open thread – May 18-19, 2018

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

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

{ 2,016 comments… read them below }

  1. OJ Mojo*

    Does it really matter what school you get your MBA from as long as it’s accredited?

    1. Chupalupe*

      I think so. An MBA is really about your class and the relationships that you’re forming with your peers, not so much the learning. It’s a unique grad degree in that sense. Who do you want to be connecting with for new jobs in 10 years?

      1. Boredatwork*

        +1 Unless you’re getting an MBA because your employer is paying for it/requires it, you should really go to the best school possible. Also, please don’t add “OJ Mojo, MBA” to your signature, it makes everyone want to gag.

        1. Susan K*

          +1 on the signature advice. My new manager has it in his signature and I cringe every time I see it.

          1. Pollygrammer*

            I had a fresh-out-of-college coworker who got some kind of certification (as in, took a test related to her undergrad degree and passed it) and insisted on putting the letters in her email signature. Sigh.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              I used to work in event planning and for every event we would get a couple of people that would add their BA (John Smith, BA) when we asked how they wanted their name to appear on their badge and in the event attendee list. We used to chuckle about that since these were events aimed at professionals in a field where it was a given that people would have a Bachelors degree, at minimum.

              1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

                Ahhhh! I work in an industry where there are a couple of fairly rigorous professional designations that are semi-common to see and are considered prestigious enough to include in your signature (think like CPA, etc.). And then this one girl, bless her heart, didn’t want to feel left out so she changed her signature to read First Name Last Name, MA. As in she had a Masters.

                Not to knock an MA, but this is an industry where MS’s or MBA’s are generally needed and nobody even cares if you have one, because everyone has at least that. Also her MA was in something completely unrelated (think an MA in Theater, but we were in finance industry).

                1. Live and Learn*

                  I used to belong to a professional association that asked about degrees and professional certifications in their membership registration form so I included my MA, thinking it was just them collecting data on the educational patterns of their membership. Until they mailed me my membership card to Jane Smith, MA. I deleted it pretty quick.

                2. circus peanuts*

                  I have a friend who does community theater and when they do the final bow and call out the actors names at the end, she insists on being called Dr. Jane Doe, PhD instead of Jane Doe like the rest of the cast. Her degree is not in theater.

                3. Julianne*

                  This is how things are where I work, too. My state requires a Master’s degree to advance from an initial to professional teaching license, and my district basically doesn’t hire teachers without Master’s degrees. Many of my colleagues in fact have more than one! So when people put M.Ed in their email signature, it’s like…yeah, duh.

              2. Foon*

                Is this okay to do with a CMP? I’ll be getting one eventually and this thread made me wonder.

                1. AMT*

                  The general rule is that if it’s professional correspondence and the credential is directly related to your qualifications to do your job (e.g. the initials give people important information about what your role is), go ahead and put it. I’m a therapist and I put my full name with post-nominal initials in my signature block above my contact info. That said, I wouldn’t put initials that don’t correspond to a relevant degree or licensable profession. So if you’re a nurse licensed in your state, you might put “RN” after your name, but it wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate to do so with minor, non-license-related titles (e.g. “MCT” for a Microsoft Certified Trainer). Not sure which of those things a CMP is considered in your field, but I’d look at the email signatures of people with that credential who have a good reputation in your field and go from there.

              3. VelociraptorAttack*

                I work at a university and when I started I did a quick clean of my new desk and found a lone business card for my predecessor. It was Name, BA. I will admit to not having a very charitable reaction to that.

                1. Not in US*

                  I work at a university and I was told to add all my credentials to my footer and business card because it’s expected here. In fact, I got a very different kind of reaction from some faculty once they realized I had an advanced degree. Is it silly – hell yes, but it’s expected here.

          2. Lucky*

            Worst are the ones that sign “Chad Chadwick, esq.” And it’s always east coast lawyers. We don’t do that on the west coast.

            1. Church Lady*

              I can understand the Esq., but just saying you have a JD? IDK, I am an Esq., but don’t sign things like that! Middle America, here!

              1. Leticia*

                Reading from the outside. I always understood that if someone signed Esquire it meant that they were jerks. I actually dated a NY lawyer and never got the point that it just means lawyer. JD means Juris Doctor, I imagine.

                In Brazil, lawyers have a Bachelor Degree, but since it was one of the first college degrees in these parts, they still want to be called “Doctors”, for “tradition” sake. I have a bachelor degree – in art, but still – and I refuse to call another BS bachelor “doutor”.

                1. Millennial Lawyer*

                  Esq. (esquire) means you’re an attorney. JD just means you graduated from law school. Esq. is a title attorneys earn, just like how doctors are Dr. So-and-So, it has no correlation with someone being a jerk or not. Plenty of lawyers are jerks who don’t refer to themselves as esq.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  I was taught that “Esq.” simply means, “your servant”. I am on the eastern side of the country and I am seeing less use of it. I thought that was because most people no longer know what it means or pay attention, etc. I can see where long ago it might have helped people to identify who they were talking with or corresponding with. And probably also had plenty of room for fraudsters.

                3. Church Lady*

                  Back when I was in law school I heard some lawyers wanted to be called “Doctor” because the degree is “Juris Doctor.” Lame! You can still get an LLM and Law Ph.D. JD is not a terminal degree, necessarily.

                4. Spring*

                  You can also get an LLM without a JD, which is common if you’re coming from a foreign country, so I don’t know that’s it’s correct to say that it’s necessarily a more advanced degree.

            2. Delta Delta*

              East coast lawyer here, and I only sign “Delta Delta, Esq.” on certain correspondence and pleadings. Not on ordinary correspondence or in anything in my personal life.

              1. RVA Cat*

                Not to get into politics, but I would bet money that a certain newly infamous New York lawyer signs everyone A—- S—–, Esq.

              2. Church Lady*

                Exactly!
                Although I am a bar admitted lawyer, I’m not practicing right now. I literally work for a church. And our previous cleaning person was also an admitted (and practicing!) lawyer. So, signing “JD” just made me laugh and laugh. Like, everyone around here is a lawyer!

              3. Elysian*

                Yeah, I use Esq when I’m signing something where it isn’t otherwise clear I’m the lawyer, as opposed to a paralegal or secretary. I think my firm requires/defaults to it in my signature block, but I don’t routinely use it when I’m signing regular emails or anything. I don’t read too much into Esq. if it is in business correspondence where the person writing it is the lawyer.

                I did have a receptionist once sign an email to me as First Last, Esq. Since I was representing her company, it was super confusing to get an email that way. She was actually a practicing lawyer, but didn’t represent the company for which she was receptionist. I imagine it was probably really confusing to outsiders – it was to me!

            3. Teapot librarian (and recovering lawyer)*

              I was getting business cards at a new job where everyone’s cards said “Jane Smith, Esq.” They did not understand why I stated that I didn’t want that. My job title said “Attorney,” that’s all I need.

              1. Decima Dewey*

                Some librarians here, particularly those who went through the trainee program to get their library degree, put MS in LS in their email signature. Dudes, everyone in this system above a certain level (and its not a particularly high one) has that degree.

                1. Toastedcheese*

                  I reluctantly added MLS to my signature line about a year back. I’m an under-compensated public librarian who does a lot of collaboration with outside departments / organizations and who occasionally works with patrons who are under the impression that I am a volunteer. But in a larger library system, nooo way.

              2. EditGirl*

                I worked at a place where they absolutely insisted on including degrees on business cards. I tried to argue that it was stupid–at the time, I just had a BA and it looked idiotic. But that wasn’t a battle I won. I cringed every time I saw it.

            4. Chaordic One*

              One of my first jobs was as an admin in an insurance agency. I would frequently “accidentally” forget to put “esq.” on the billing statements of some of our clients and they actually were upset and complain to my boss about it.

            5. batmansrobyn*

              Chicago lawyer here! I’m in kind of a weird boat because I consult for a couple of different firms because I’m too lazy to be a true solo. I often use my own Gmail account for professional correspondence in lieu of any sort of Official Firm Email. I’ll usually put “BatmansRobyn, Esq” in my signature line so that when I’m contacting clients, their immediate response isn’t “who’s this weirdo sending me files to review.”

              My involvement in all my cases is fully disclosed by the principals I’m working with, but for whatever reason it seems to make clients feel better to see that I am Actually A Lawyer when I don’t have, like, a firm’s stamp of approval.

              I should probably just suck it up and get Justice League Consulting up and running but ugh that sounds like so much work

            6. Esq debate*

              Interesting to see many people saying they refer to themselves as “Esq.” on e-mail, business cards, etc. I was always taught that you should not address yourself as esquire; it’s a marker of respect that you use for other attorneys. So, my e-mail signature and business cards said Name, Attorney, but I would direct correspondence to John Smith, Esq.

          3. Mrs. Fenris*

            Oh, people who are pushy about putting their degree in their signature make me crazy. I sign DVM after my name in medical records and such. That’s it. I don’t put it on conference badges unless they ask for it-sometimes they want to distinguish between DVMs and RVTs. That’s pretty much it. I never ever use Dr. when I’m not at work. And don’t even get me started on blowhards who say Dr. Jane Doe, DVM.

          1. Windchime*

            “Hi everyone, I’m Windchime, CHS* and I work for the University”

            (* CHS = Cxxxx High School)

        2. I think this is the job I'm hiring for*

          I’m interviewing candidates for a job and one of them emailed a thank you note. His email signature said “Dr. Fergus Featherwhistle, Ph.D.” Oh no, sweetie. Just one is bad enough; both is redundant.

          1. snowshine*

            I can kind of understand that one, to make it clear that you’re not a medical doctor?

            1. Dorothy Zbornak*

              You can just put the “Ph.D.” at the end, in that case. No need for the “Dr.” in front.

          2. AFineSpringDay*

            My boss has a PhD, in a company where that is exceedingly rare (she came from another industry entirely) and she wanted me to list her travel profile on the travel booking system as “Dr” because sometimes that gets her upgrades! To think my dad (a college professor) has been wasting himself in coach all these years!

            1. Penny Lane*

              Except it doesn’t. The airlines and hotels aren’t impressed by the mere fact that someone is a doctor enough to throw upgrades at them. That’s extremely naive.

            2. Cedrus Libani*

              I refuse to mark myself as Dr on anything travel-related, because I don’t want to risk getting called in to handle a medical emergency. Wrong kind of doctor!

              We do use degrees on email signatures, though. Mostly for the clients. If the teapot sales rep has escalated a question to the PhD-level teapot designers, they want the client to be aware of where the answer came from.

        3. Environmental Compliance*

          I had a coworker once that insisted on putting REHS….which he got 25 years ago. That was strange.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            To clarify a little – coworker had in the 27 years he’d worked there, never wanted to have the certification listed, but then out of the blue wanted new business cards with it on there. No one really cared that he wanted to list them, but it came off a little weird with the sudden change. It’s not by any means a required certification in that field.

        4. Not a Morning Person*

          I agree, but my employer wants us to put any certification or degree in our work email signature and on our business card. I gag at my own signature.

        5. Half-Caf Latte*

          I think this is org- dependent. While I personally find people who insist on using titles at all times to often be pretentious, at my academic medical center, credentials are A Thing. Every meeting sign in sheet/ minutes specifically asks you to list credentials, and everyone lists them all. So I’m H.C. Latte, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, NEA-BC, including in my email signature.

          I’d never sign a check to the mechanic with all of that, though.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            Don’t get me started on the fact that minutes themselves will refer to “Dr. Smith” when a physician is named, but my terminally-degreed peers in other disciplines are “Florence Nightengale” and “Jean Watson”.

            1. Natalie*

              Isn’t that pretty routine in the medical field? It’s a place where the difference between medical doctor and philosophical doctor matters a great deal.

              1. Half-Caf Latte*

                In meeting minutes or around the table, where you are just referring to people? Using Dr. Smith and Florence sets up a power paradigm. Either we’re okay with first names, and it’s Pat and Florence, or we’re not, and it’s Dr. Smith and Ms. Nightingale.

                I’m not talking about in patient-facing settings.

                1. Natalie*

                  Oh, I see, since you used the full name for the non-medical people I didn’t realize they were just being referred to by their first names. That is odd.

              2. DArcy*

                Yes, but the differences between a medical doctor and a pharmacy doctor or a pharmacology doctor are equally significant, yet there is *no* social norm of refusing to refer to pharmacists and pharmacologists by the title of “doctor” — only doctors of nursing.

                Moreover, this is something that medical associations have been trying to outright enshrine in law. They literally want to make it *illegal* for doctors of nursing to be referred to by the title of “Doctor”, while allowing *absolutely all other* healthcare professionals with a terminal degree to retain that distinction.

                1. WS*

                  My mum is a doctor of nursing (recently retired) and this is a very familiar struggle. It’s very, very gendered, too – the people who are most insistent on it seem to be either male doctors who insist on calling female doctors by their first names, or female doctors who are constantly trying to assert that they are not nurses.

            2. BA*

              That’s weird. The physicians I know just intro themselves first and last name and the other health care people who have a non-medical doctorate intro themselves as Dr. So and So.

              1. TL -*

                I know a whole bunch of MDs/PhDs and they are “Dr. Medicine” in medical settings – patient interactions, meetings with hospital staff, and responding to emergencies on a plane – and FirstName in non-medical settings – non-clinical research, meetings with anybody who is not hospital staff, grocery shopping…

          2. Live and Learn*

            My sister once wrote me a check signed FirstName LastName, RN. I asked her about it and she said she didn’t even know she did it. At work when she signs patient forms she has to include her credentials for legal reasons so it’s force of habit.

        6. NacSacJack*

          Thank you!! We have someone who has an MBA and several certificates and everything is listed on her signature. I feel worthless. PS Thank you to the OP and those responding stating its all about the school and the relationships, not about the degree. Makes me feel better about not pursuing one.

          1. Church Lady*

            Nac, I took a few MBA classes. Just, stultifying. *So much jargon* *Ugh*

            If someone paid me to do it, I probably would. Otherwise? Nah!

      2. Specialk9*

        It only matters if you’re getting one of those super high-paid high-pressure business jobs, and then you’d better have gone to a school like Wharton or London. If you’re in the average kind of job, I don’t think it’s worth the trouble and expense to go to a school that’s ranked 15th, or 30th, or such. Just make sure it’s accredited (or aligned with a broader university that’s accredited).

        1. OJ Mojo*

          That’s along the lines of what I was thinking. This one is aligned with LSU, I had just never heard of it/had any experience with branch schools until I was already employed and moved to NC where there’s tons of UNC branches.

          1. Jules the Third*

            If you’re in NC, check out my post below on UNC-CH / NCSU / Duke.

            Also – the different UNC schools have different levels of quality – the UNC system is set up in 3 tiers, with UNC-CH and NCSU as the top tier flagship campuses. I can’t speak to Wake Forest, but Appalachian / UNCG / UNCW / UNCC are definitely second tier business schools. Easier to get into, less challenging coursework, lower prestige. If you’re looking to use an MBA to change careers, it will be easier with a UNC-CH / NCSU degree. If you’re looking for a certification to bump you along in your current career, it’s less of an issue.

            Also – this varies by industry! For example, iirc, UNCG has a strong Health Professional focus, so a UNCG MBA is great if you’re in the health care field.

            1. OJ Mojo*

              I was looking at ECU and never heard of UNCG. I’ll check that out being in the biotech/pharma industry.

      3. Poniez R Us*

        Please do not rush into getting an MBA! You are still young in your career:
        1. If you get an MBA now, you are taking a pay bump now (assuming you will get this upon graduating) vs in the future when you have a higher title and are moving into management roles AND can get more money.
        2. You DO NOT need an MBA to be a financial analyst. I have been an FA for 5 years on track to make senior this year. I have amazing experience without an MBA. I will get one when I can afford it and am ready to move into management. I have worked for F500 companies without one in high level capacity and exposure roles without an MBA.
        3. Consider your job market. I am from Chicago where there are a lot of MBAs. Some are from great schools like Booth and Kellog, some are from mid tier schools like DePaul, and then some from UIC. All good and accredited schools BUT what sets them apart is the networking opportunities. This is what opens the door in a competitive market where everyone is smart, qualified, and has an MBA.
        4. Many have mentioned that an MBA is a networking opportunity. As much as you will want to get out of relationships in your program, what will you bring to the table? What value will you add with your short experience relative to those who are already in senior and management roles? The worst is being on a team project with someone who does not yet have the experience and intuition to get a project organized and executed. I am not saying you are incapable of adding value but do consider the level of experience your peers will have vs you.

        Again, please do not rush. MBAs are expensive and take up a ton of time. Look into a blue big box store headquartered in Mooresville, NC. They are hiring like crazy in their Finance organization right now. Get the experience and exposure right now to make you qualified to get into a top tier school. Of course, it all depends on what you want. Not everyone wants/needs to be in the best program because some just need to check a box. Consider what level you want to get to in Finance and what successful people did to get there. Do not rush it!

        1. BlueberryHill*

          Counterpoint: time. If you have plenty of time outside of work for extra activities, now might be good. If you wait until later in your career, you may also find other demands on your time outside of work, or other drawbacks(my co-worker did not renew lease in order to find apartment that was mid-way between college and job. if further along, that moving might not be an option (more stuff, spouse, house).

          1. OJ Mojo*

            That’s where I’m at. I have time, can pay for it without loans, and my boss suggested it. I’ve thought about it for a year and a half now.

            1. dillydally*

              The industry you work in, the company you work for, the type of work you are doing, the prestige of the college the mba will come from. Tuition reimbursement, loans, support of company, support of family, amount of free time, dependents, family planning.

              Consider it all

        2. Spreadsheets and Books*

          Seconding this. I’m a SFA for a F500 and I don’t have an MBA, nor do I feel like I necessarily need one in the near future.

          An MBA is an investment, not a decision to be made on a whim.

      4. Jules the Third*

        My experience is that it matters in some industries and geographies, but not in most, and bus school concentrations matter more. I have not found the networking effect to be very strong.

        I live in NC, USA. The three top MBA program options here are Duke, UNC-CH and NCSU, all within about 40 miles from each other, so I looked at each of them carefully. Duke was heavily finance oriented. UNC-CH was generalist, NCSU was tech and supply chain oriented. They are all of similar enough quality that a good student would get a good, usable degree.

        If I wanted to leave NC, then Duke was the best choice – it had the most name recognition outside the state. Inside NC, Duke or UNC-CH would be fine in Charlotte Finance. For anything other than Finance inside NC, Duke was a waste of money. UNC-CH and NCSU had a stronger focus on Entrepreneurship. UNC-CH had joint classes with some of their Comp Sci masters students; NCSU had a *lot* of joint classes with their Engineering, Comp Sci and Design students. NCSU the strongest Supply Chain program, with summer internships and study projects with multiple car / heavy equipment manufacturers.

        At top-tier schools, you are in class with a higher percentage of smart, driven people, so the networking effect may be stronger. I think, though, that Finance is the only area where a top-tier school gets you significant advantage over 2nd tier schools. I know it does not in manufacturing / supply chain.

        What you want to *do* with the MBA should be your guide to which MBA you choose.

      5. Artemesia*

        MBAs are a dime a dozen. IMHO never get one until you have some experience in the workplace preferably in a management possible track. Never get one except from a top school if you expect them to be a ticket to a fabulous job. Yeah. Harvard MBAs have opportunities; no graduates of third rate but accredited schools generally don’t have many. If you have a good career but an MBA is supported by your office or is seen as a route to advancement in that organization then the school matters less and it may be worth doing and once you get that promotion and more management experience, the degree may be useful along with that experience when you want to take the next step. The worst is an MBA from a less well known or regarded school right out of undergraduate. This person is considered over-qualified and under-qualified simultaneously. A masters degree is rarely a ticket for someone without experience in a field unless it is a minimal credential for entry.

    2. KL*

      It can. An MBA helps, but different companies know how rigorous or what philosophies institutions teach.

    3. Temperance*

      It definitely does. Just look for the old post from the angry person with the MBA from the U of Phoenix.

      1. OJ Mojo*

        Definitely wasn’t going that route. They are not accredited by AACSB, where this program is. It’s a sister school of LSU from my understanding but I’m from VA where branch colleges are not common at all so I wasn’t sure how this worked.

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah UoP and schools like that are to be avoided, but unless you are going into huge X corporate work at super high level elite master God level, then a mid-level accredited University will be fine. Just do some research on their general reputation and what not.

    4. fposte*

      First, keep in mind that not all accreditation is created equal.

      Second, the answer depends on what you’re doing with the MBA. Are you already on a track and just need a credential to box-check? Are you staying in the area where the school is well known? Or are you looking to take the degree across country and make it in Manhattan?

      1. OJ Mojo*

        I’m a new college grad (May 2016) and my boss highly suggested I get my MBA for future opportunities. I looked at job postings for a financial analyst because that’s what I really want to be doing, and 85% had the requirement of an MBA listed. The school I’m considering is a branch of LSU, online, where I’m currently in NC. I hope to stay in NC but the local university admission requirements are very rigorous and I simply don’t qualify. Other local online options would take me close to 3 years where this option would only take me 18 months. All hold AACSB accreditations and are non-profits.

        1. TheAssistant*

          I would say talk to financial analysts to get a sense of how rigorous your degree needs to be.

          I briefly considered (okay, took the GMAT twice, attended a boot camp, threw money at a consultant, applied, and interviewed) MBA programs – the field I was trying to enter with one really required a Top 10-15 school. Most fields don’t, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the best school you can. Talking to other successful analysts in the field – and people who hire analysts – will give you a better sense of what you really need. If you need a “better” degree than the LSU program, then saving 18 months won’t do you much good.

        2. Anon Today*

          I’d encourage some extra digging with the programming. Sadly, there are many state and local colleges that have, otherwise, solid academic reputations, that use curriculum developed by the for-profit world (most notably the Apollo group, that also develops all the University of Phoenix’s programming) because it’s cheap, and MBA programs are cash cows to many smaller colleges. And the colleges that do that end up gaining a reputation (especially in the local community) of offering a subpar program.

          This may not be the case with the programs that you are investigating, but I think it’s worthwhile digging further. Good quality programs tend to have tough admission standards..

          1. Specialk9*

            My university-working friends/family explained that all masters degrees are cash cows, and expecting them to give two spits about you is unrealistic. They care about undergrads and PhDs, because both impact their ratings and reputation, but grad students are just $$$. I found that to be true.

            1. Jesca*

              I agree. Just look at how many universities big and small offer them online now. Its mostly a money making thing.

            2. Anon Today*

              I wouldn’t say that all master’s degree’s are cash cows. My theory is if you can get funding for your master’s degree then it’s not a cash cow, if you can’t then it is.

              1. Specialk9*

                I meant from the college’s point of view. They view masters students as income generators, without impact on reputation.

            3. P*

              PhD’s are cash cows, too. When my sister was trying to get hers in Hawaii, TPB kept disallowing (is that the right word?) her research and rejecting her dissertation. After seven years, she finally gave up.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                At my highly elite university, PhD students cost us money. Most master’s programs are cash cows here.

                1. Lora*

                  PhD students are nevertheless cheaper than hiring adjuncts to cover the classes they teach. At least in my Monster Research I grad school. Most of the people in my department whose dissertations and publications were mysteriously never quite sufficient were teaching all the big Pre-Med Requirement courses nobody else wanted to teach.

                2. Lily Rowan*

                  Hilariously, later on Friday, I was in a meeting where a dean called a particular master’s program “not a cash cow.”

              2. Artemesia*

                At top universities PhD students never pay tuition. they either admit you with a ride or they reject you.

                Masters degrees are cash cows everywhere and there is little financial aid except debt. They also have much lower standards for admission than elite undergrad schools or PhDs (at the same institutions).

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Is there a job that is just below or adjacent to financial analyst that you could aim for? And segue to financial analyst from that? (This might mix with some further education/credentialing, but you would be stepping there with a lot more knowledge–like you had completed steps 1-8, step 9 was this credential, these awarders of the credential were viewed favorably in your local subfield and so worth the investment.)

          I am a little leery of the online aspect meaning you get much less networking out of the degree. A fposte says, it’s one thing if you’re on a track and your employer has clearly laid out that to move up from job A to job B one needs a certification and so you need a training course that lets you check off that box. It’s another if you’re hoping people seeing MBA on a resume will figure you must be qualified as a financial analyst. Not qualifying for the local schools is a point against this working. The quicker program might be a plus (concentrated for busy professionals) or might be a negative (slapdash to trap those who don’t know the right questions to ask). The person I know who just got an MBA going to school full-time went for two years, and a quick online search says that’s the norm for full-time MBA programs–so a part time program that takes only 18 months would raise some serious side-eye if anyone was asking me to write a check for this program in the hopes it paid off down the road.

          This might be a place for a couple of informational interviews with people who have the job you want.

          1. OJ Mojo*

            They have a structured program of 7 week condensed classes vs the regular 15 week class structure. So taking back to back classes would allow me to take 2 classes a semester where I would only take one in the standard structure. The LSU college only requires 10 classes and the NC college requires 13 classes. Just curious if you think that’s still odd? I have taken 5 week classes before because they were geared towards busy professionals and there is a professional MBA offered at a local highly respected college that only takes 1 year because it somewhat follows that structure as well.

            1. Grits McGee*

              If you don’t mind sharing, which LSU college/branch is the program you’re interested in associated with? As a former LSU student and employee, I can definitely say that not all LSU system programs are… created equally. I know that you don’t qualify for anything local right now, but if you’re paying for the MBA yourself, it may be worth it to wait 4 years and invest in a better program.

              1. Grits McGee*

                Oops, I see downthread that it’s through Shreveport. Honestly, not to knock my former home state, but I wouldn’t spend the time and money for an online MBA from a small Louisiana regional university unless a) your employer is footing the bill or 2) this is literally just a rubber stamp that you need for a promotion.

                Given that you’re still so new out of college, I would highly recommend being patient and waiting a few years to see how your career develops. I worked for 4-5 years before going back to grad school, and I was so much better prepared to make the most out the program than the rest of my cohort.

                1. prettyshinythings*

                  I wouldn’t spend time or money on *any* online MBA program, but maybe that’s just me. My top 20-program was big on case studies and other group projects, and how do you do all of this virtually? It’s near impossible. And you don’t build the same connections with others that do you in person.

                2. Library Land*

                  I’m not sure why I can’t directly reply to prettyshinythings, but in terms of online programs with group projects, it works just as well as in-person group projects (that is to say, sometimes it’s fabulous and sometimes it’s terrible). I did my entire MLIS (part-time) online through a top school and basically had three years of group projects. I am also many states away from most of my classmates which added another element of when can we meet – but we always managed. There’s lots of emails, skype meetings, and a ton of Google docs.

                  I also know many of the local online students who would try to take as many in-person classes as possible because they were much easier than the online ones. The whole stereotype of online classes being a joke is perpetuated by the same people who would treat the in-person classes as a joke. And much in the same way that you can’t compare in-person classes from a top tier school and one from a bargain school, you can’t compare an in-person class from a top tier school and and online one from a bargain school.

                  I made many life-long friends/connections and I can’t see that fading just because we live more than 20 minutes apart. I also know that some people didn’t – once again exactly the same as it would be in person.

            2. Awkward Interviewee*

              I don’t know much about MBAs, but I do work in higher ed. If condensed courses are legit, you are doing the same amount of work, just in a shorter time period. So taking two 7 week courses one after the other in a semester should be about the same amount of time commitment / work as taking two 15 week courses at the same time. Unless a degree is highly sequential (so that course 1 is a pre-req for course 2, etc. all the way up – and I didn’t think MBAs were all that sequential?) 7 week vs. 15 week courses shouldn’t necessarily affect time to degree all that much. I also would be a little leery about doing an MBA from a branch campus that’s so far away. If I were you I would check rankings – if the LSU branch school is lower than mid-tier, and the NC college is mid-tier-ish, I think the NC school would probably be worth it.

        4. gbca*

          I’m a manager in finance (FP&A in a very large company), and an MBA is definitely not a requirement for an analyst role. Yes, we have plenty of MBAs around, but at the analyst level we don’t require it. I would still apply for those jobs you’re seeing if they look like a good fit otherwise. On the employer side, we’ve actually had a slightly tougher time attracting talent lately because unemployment is so low, so it’s a good time to get into the field.

          1. OJ Mojo*

            I sadly don’t meet the requirements otherwise… They ask for 5+ years experience in my area, and when I apply outside of my area for 0-2 years experience, I’m not considered when I meet 80% of the requirements even though I’m very much open to relocating. I mainly looked at the postings to see what it would take to be considered for that kind of position since I don’t know anyone who is one or manages one.

            1. Spreadsheets and Books*

              I’m one.

              If you’re seeing FA roles that want 5+ years of experience, those sound like senior roles. There are plenty of entry level analyst roles out there. If you’re not getting hits with a related degree and a little experience, I almost guarantee that your resume is the issue, not your lack of MBA. If you go over to r/financialcareers on reddit, there are lots of people with the right background who can help you review your (edited, anonymized) resume.

              An MBA this early in your career will only hurt you, especially if you do it at a no-name school. Good MBA programs like to see ~5 years of experience for a reason.

        5. Not in US*

          As a new grad, I would strongly recommend that you wait another year or two before doing an MBA. You will get MUCH more out of it if you have more experience working in the real world before you do it.

          In terms of school – while I agree you should go to the best school you can, what that means in practice can be very different depending on what you want to do. I did my MBA in order to facilitate a fairly significant career change. I did not need to go to the “best” school. I went to a local university with a solid reputation but it cost less than some of the other schools I could get into and at the time it enabled me to bypass the first year requirements to get my CPA which is where I was headed. I didn’t need to go to the equivalent of our ivy league – I wasn’t doing to work in high Finance or in anything that would require those kinds of connections. I have connections in the community I want to live in and it’s served me well.

          I would also strongly suggest that an online MBA of any kind is not a great idea. If it’s one class, fine. But the whole degree – or even half the degree – no.

          1. OJ Mojo*

            Are you against the online degree because of the networking? That’s really my only option if I stay in this area. I’m not able to qualify for the local school.

            1. Natalie*

              I don’t mean this in a rude way, but if you can’t get into the local, more reputable school that might be feedback worth paying attention to. Obviously it depends on the reason, but if it’s something like needing more work experience, maybe you should consider that there’s a good basis for that requirement.

            2. Not in US*

              I don’t think your learning in an online setting will be great. A big part of the educational value of the MBA is the group work and the case studies. You’re young, I did my MBA with a few students who were really green, and it really showed in their answers and in group discussions. You really do get more out of it all – and make a better impression on the people you want to network later with if you wait a few years to do it.

              Honestly, I think unless you go to a tier one school, the networking value is over rated. There’s benefit, yes, but you also get similar benefits in most careers by working a few places, doing a good job and staying in contact with those former colleagues. I switched careers and still ended up providing background and connections for great former co-workers in my old industry for the first few years. I’m still occasionally asked for recommendations – although a lot less than before since I switched careers since I’ve been out for almost 10 years.

            3. Genny*

              I’m currently finishing up an online degree in IR. The online platform is wonderful, and I highly recommend it to people who need more flexibility (I was able to continue working, which required lengthy international travel, and doing school). The caveat though is I’m going to top-ten ranked school in IR.

              If you choose to go the online route, do your homework. Ask the admissions person a lot of questions. Visit the campus and see what kind of support they have for online students and talk to an academic advisor. Sit in on at least one virtual class to make sure that method of learning works for you (and if there is no class, if it’s just work you complete on your own and then submit to a prof, do not go to that school).

        6. Wehaf*

          If you want to be a financial analyst you are better off studying for and taking the CFA exams; that’s worth way more to investment banks than an MBA is.

          1. AliceW*

            Agreed. Get your CFA. I work in finance and make very good money with just a BA. Never needed an MBA and I’m in management. If you get your toe in the door, do excellent work, you can get promoted and make good money as a financial analyst without ever spending the money or your time on an MBA. Gain experience first- even if it’s at the bottom. Smart folks can move up very quickly in a good organization.

          2. AnonAnalyst*

            I also would suggest this (or at least, taking a closer look at whether the CFA will get you where you want to go or if you’ll actually need an MBA). Several of my classmates ended up having to take the CFA exams within a year or two of finishing the MBA program, and I remember one being frustrated that she couldn’t get the jobs she wanted with just the MBA. She started studying for the CFA during the second half of the program so she didn’t have to wait even longer to get into the role she wanted. I think she found the MBA program valuable overall, but had she known, I suspect she would have just gotten her CFA and seen what career paths that opened up rather than starting with an MBA.

        7. Jules the Third*

          2016 grad? Continuing in your current Finance career?

          Don’t do it yet. Wait a few 2 – 3 years. Save up for it, and see if there’s any way to improve your chances at a top tier like Duke or UNC-CH. When I applied, NCSU told me the GMAT / GRE scores were their best predictor of success. This helped a lot – my undergrad GPA was only 3.2, but my GRE scores were 98th percentile.

          Consider trying to take some of the free classes being offered by Harvard / MIT. They’ll help *you* figure out if distance learning this stuff works for you.

          If you go ahead now to just punch the credential, Wake Forest looks really good, or ECU, and distance learning is probably ok. But if you ever want to leave NC, wait and try for Duke, and go in person – the name recognition and networking will make a difference.

          (I’m an NCSU MBA, 2002, supply chain concentration gpa 3.95; under grad UNC-CH Econ / Poli Sci; dated a Duke Econ major for 6 years, so we used to study together – Duke / CH have really similar quality, but Duke has more name recognition out of state.)

          Link to a good list of NC school in my name. They show some that offer distance learning.

          1. OJ Mojo*

            ECU was the school I was looking at doing aside from LSU-S. I’m currently not in a finance career path. I’m a tax associate in the accounting department with a growing biotech/pharma company and I’m looking for avenues to branch into the finance analyst path where I could be budget focused. Taxes were the exact reason I didn’t pursue an accounting degree ironically…..

        8. Financial Analyst*

          Hi – financial analyst in the SF Bay Area here. I have a BA and I passed the CPA exam but am not licensed. In my area/industry (wine, north bay) I’m always being hit up by recruiters for new FA opportunities and there are always FA jobs posted. Very rarely do I see one that lists MBA as a requirement.

          Eventually I want an MBA too but that’ll be more like when I’m moving into upper management/VP level work.

          If your field/area requires MBAs 85% of the time and that’s the field/area you want to commit to, then yes you’d better get yours too. But do make sure you’re really comfortable staying there for the long run before committing to the MBA as you might find less stringent requirements elsewhere.

    5. Alternative Person*

      The prestige of the institution can make quite a bit of difference as well as the exact content of the programme. It might be accredited sure, but if the content/choice/structure doesn’t work for you, it might be better to save your money until something you really want comes along.

      I’d say it’s worth doing some research to make sure the MBA you chose gets you skills that are valuable to you, or has networking opportunities that could be useful to you, or the department has sub-specialties that are relevant to you. You could also reach out to your current network and see where they got their MBAs.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, some MBA programs aren’t great, but the broader school is really impressive to the general public. That’s not a bad investment, in my mind.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      I say no. Then again most people I know with an MBA are irritated that they are still in the same job making the same money as before.

      1. Seriously?*

        I think it depends. Some MBA programs have a strong networking component, which can help. It isn’t the name of the school so much as the connections you make.

        1. Anna*

          I’ve seen the comment about the networking a couple of times on this thread and I have to wonder…Are you essentially saying going into debt for several thousands of dollars is really worth the MBA because you might meet someone who might be able to help you later? I mean, couldn’t you just accomplish that by just networking, getting to know your coworkers, thereby saving you the time and money?

          1. Specialk9*

            Did you say *several thousand* dollars? Like, $5,000 to get an MBA?

            Oh my, I wish. My student debt was $50,00 and that was after my company paid a ton.

          2. Natalie*

            I don’t think it refers to your classmates as much as the alumni network, which can potentially be an enormous boost.

          3. Jules the Third*

            It *really* depends on the industry and the purpose of your MBA.
            Finance – networking / prestige matter if you’re trying to get to one of the NYC firms.
            Entrepreneurship – networking matters a *lot*, prestige less so. Investors love to see things coming out of universities. Some universities are better than others at licensing their tech for commercialization. If you are looking for an MBA to help you start companies, check how many people are in their tech licensing dept, and the $$s of the deals they’ve made.
            Supply chain – it matters to start, but not so much after 10 years.

            MBAs (and any degree, really) are mostly shortcuts to the same results you get by doing a variety of jobs and networking with others in your industry. Coworkers isn’t enough, you really need to be in an industry org of some kind.

            You do get some tools that help you look at the Big Picture for your company or industry that sometimes you wouldn’t figure out for yourself. I’m not convinced that the MBA version of those tools is all that much more than the BA version, but I am sure it’s stuff I wouldn’t have figured out for myself without a lot of trial and error.

            To cash in on an MBA, you have to make some kind of change. Either your company pays for it, OR you switch companies after you get it, OR you use it to switch careers. I used an MBA to go from tech support / web dev / non-profits to supply chain at NCSU. The additional pay I got from the new industry paid for the whole degree and 18mo I took off work within 4 years. But I also know students with decent grades from my class who have never been able to use their MBA. It was a bad hiring year.

          4. Penny Lane*

            Anna, it’s networking with people OUTSIDE your current network. Not schmoozing with your coworkers which you can do for free.

            You don’t think Harvard or Kellogg has a tremendous network?

          5. gbca*

            So, networking is definitely not the biggest reason you get an MBA. If that’s all you’re looking for, you’re absolutely right – you can do that in a far cheaper and less time-intensive way. The number one reason I went was for the recruiting program. Having companies come to you is huge. I was a career-changer, so no one would have looked at my resume before for a financial planning & analysis job. But I ended up with multiple internship and full-time offers at great companies through my MBA program. Now that I’m a few years out, the network comes in handy more. But it certainly isn’t the primary reason I went back to school.

          6. EBITDA*

            I have to chuckle at this. I went to a top-tier business school with almost a thousand students per class. Regardless of whether I built deep relationships with any of those people over two years, I am astounded by the reliability with which I can email my classmates with various requests (an email intro, a 15-minute crash course on an industry, etc.) and get a response within the day. And that’s only a single class – in my experience reaching out to the broader alumni network, it’s still been the case that you’ll get a response almost every single time. I hear this logic a lot (you can just network on your own time!) but I would literally have to live many more lifetimes to match the networking potential of a 100k-member, highly-engaged alumni network.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Yes and No. I have heard from some professionals that the degree granting institution matters mostly for the first or second job after graduation. After that it is really a matter of track record at those jobs. For example a rock star candidate with a MBA from a Tier 2 institution will look better than a mediocre candidate from a Tier 1 institution. But on the other hand with two equally rock star candidates the tie breaker could be the institution that the degree was obtained from. Also a big think is the alumni network. I graduated from a state school in western NY, it is well known in the area with lots of alumni, but where I am currently working in a big Midwestern city the network is small to non-existent.

      3. Specialk9*

        I make twice as much as I did pre-MBA. That said, I was wildly underpaid, and changed jobs a few times.

        1. OJ Mojo*

          Being underpaid was one of my motivators too. Where did you get your MBA? …if you don’t mind me asking

    7. Denise*

      It depends on what your goals are. For certain jobs and companies (namely management consulting), absolutely. To get a promotion with your current employer into management, not so much.

      Basically, school reputation determines recruitment partnerships, which in turn provides employment options. Look carefully at the companies that recruit at prospective schools to see how they align with your goals. Alternatively, look at your target companies to see where they recruit most heavily.

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      Absolutely. There are many, many different kinds of accreditation. Accreditation in and of itself is not a measure of quality. Just look at for-profits like DeVry and the University of Phoenix. My relative got his MBA from UPhoenix and it isn’t recognized by any employers outside of his current company as a good thing.

      1. OJ Mojo*

        I misspoke in my original comment in that regard. The two schools I’m looking at are non-profits and AACSB accredited. One is a branch of LSU I haven’t heard of being from VA and located in NC, the other is a local option but would take me 3x as long to complete and $7k more. Both would be online, part time in order to keep my full time job

        1. brightstar*

          Do you mind if I ask the name of the branch? I’m from Baton Rouge, an LSU alumni, and may be able to give some information about it, though I’m no expert about MBA’s.

    9. Penny Lane*

      Of course. The top business schools (Wharton, Kellogg, Harvard, etc) offer opportunities that others don’t. They aren’t interchangeable at all.

    10. gbca*

      Depends on why you are getting it. If your company just requires one to move ahead and you’re not looking to move, probably not. If you’re trying to get a new/better job, absolutely. I went to a top 15 program specifically for the recruiting. We had top companies coming to us for on-campus recruiting. I also developed a great network of classmates who I can reach out to.

      1. OJ Mojo*

        Honestly my reason is a little bit of both. I wouldn’t mind moving up in my company but I will eventually want a new/better job. I would have to do this online because I don’t qualify for the local option that would allow me to go on campus so I’m not sure networking will even be the biggest component for me.

        1. Safetykats*

          I’m a little worried about your description of the degree as a lot less work. Less money is fine; less work is not. I would really ask around to see what the people who matter in your thought process (for example, managers in the department for which the MBA is a requirement) think of this degree. I’ve worked with several professionals who sank significant time and money into degrees that turned out to be not acceptable to our org, which is actually kind of tragic – because for the same time and money they could have been 2/3 done with a degree that would have been accepted.

    11. Argh!*

      It depends on whether it matters what type of company you want to work for and what kind of position you hope to get.

    12. HRM*

      Agree with everyone else here… depends on why you’re getting it and what you intend to do with it.

      For my purposes, I picked a good school – not a great one. It was recently listed as being in the top 75 out of 500 MBA programs. No, it’s not Harvard – but it’s a decent school with a good reputation so it serves the purpose I need it to.

    13. Jules the Third*

      Hey Alison – can you pass my email to OJ Mojo?

      OJ, if you want to talk through NC options, I have some familiarity there, if you want to tap it. :D

      1. OJ Mojo*

        Yes I would, please! I just feel stuck and I would greatly appreciate talking it through with someone who is knowledgeable but objective.

    14. EBITDA*

      Ok, after reading through all the responses and your follow-ups, I have to strongly recommend that you do not do this. You sound like you’re looking to escape your current job/function/industry or some combination of the three, and that’s a terrible reason to pay for an MBA. My classmates and I referred to our MBA program as a reset button, and you only get one. If you go for poorly-thought-out reasons, and you don’t bust your a$$ to go to the best institution you can possibly get into, you’ve wasted your reset button and are now stuck with a mediocre degree and the likely-mediocre job you’ll have gotten as a result, as well as debt (or lost savings/capital appreciation, if you pay cash). Based on your follow-up, you are hearing what you want to hear/soliciting approval because you really want that escape hatch. Stick it out for a couple of years, study hard for your GMATs, and craft a really strong application and then see if you can’t get into a top 30 school. The difference in outcomes will be well worth it.

      1. OJ Mojo*

        Thank you for taking the time to look through everything. In a way, I believe you are right. This is my first full-time job and with my boss encouraging me to get one, I just felt like it was necessary if I was going to stay here. I don’t like what I’m doing and the real eye opener was to think about if I would still get my MBA if I got a different job. I wouldn’t – at least this fall, when I was planning on it. So I appreciate your candid advice and insight because I am now looking at this differently, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

    15. MissDissplaced*

      I think it matters somewhat, but it’s not the be all-end all. Generally, you want to pick a grad school based on their reputation for YOUR major. Some expensive Ivy schools might not offer the best grad program in some majors, and vice versa. All I can say is you’ve got to shop for your grad school as you would buy a home or other large investment.

  2. Friday and Bored Again*

    Genuinely curious what people do at work when they have nothing to actually work on. I don’t mean ‘suddenly have a free ten minutes between meetings’, I mean literally have nothing to work on for a few hours.

    My position is a support position so I rely on my supervisors giving me work to do. Usually it’s very steady, always something to keep me busy. The last couple weeks, I keep finding myself with more and more downtime. I often get all my work done by lunch and then have nothing else to do for the afternoon. Of course, stuff pops up around the office for me to do, but there’s still been a lot of downtime recently. I try to fill the time with organizing my files, cleaning up my email, update the calendar, prep notes/agendas for upcoming meetings, little stuff like that. But when all that busy work is done, I’m still left with nothing do to. My team knows they can send me things at any point, there’s just not much for me to do.

    I think this is stemming from a temporary lull between projects but I’m still not sure what I should do with this sudden and random downtime. Of course, I’d love to grab my book and read, or take a brief nap in my car. But what should I actually be doing during this time?

    1. soupmonger*

      Do your team know you have these periods of downtime? If not, why not flag it up to them? Tell them you have free time that afternoon, and do any of them have work you can help with?

      1. mark132*

        This is excellent advice. One of the more aggravating things at work is to watch a coworker screwing off day after day while you have too much to do. And one of the more satisfying things at work is a coworker with spare cycles offloading some work from you when you are overloaded.

      2. Chilleh*

        This is such a great idea. I have a colleague in a different job classification then me who has had free time lately some afternoons. We are full on her classification and short staffed on mine, so she has been asking to help me with some of my duties that cross over with hers. It’s been such a great QoL change for me to more fully bfocus on other aspects of my job and she is happy to have projects to work on, so it’s been great.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Can you find some online trainings or help pages for things you’d like to do? Like learn pivot tables, or SQL, or something like that? (I can only think of tech tasks, and I know that free tutorials on those are plentiful, but I’m sure they’re out there on almost any subject.)

      1. Jesca*

        This is what I do. Plus my company has a huge sharepoint with tons of company information and what not.

        Also, I know people above recommended letting your team know, but I can say from experience that this can end badly – like when you have to start saying no. I would actually broach it with your boss first to make sure she is OK with it. I did this a couple months ago and then ended up being told by my boss that she does not want me to get caught up in the other team member’s work (vastly different from mine) so that I always available for the things she needs me for.

        And yeah people will grumble, but they grumble about a lot. They never learned the whole “don’t worry about what that person’s job is” motto.

        1. GlitsyGus*

          I am also in the boat of if you want to flag it up be very clear that this is possibly a temporary lull and as Jesca suggested go to your direct manager only and let her know the score.

          You don’t want Mitsy thinking you have time to rearrange her meeting schedule so it’s color coordinated every single week for the next year when really you only had time to do it for three weeks while you were waiting for Fergus’s XYZ project to get out of the planning stage.

          I also second the trainings or learning tools if they are available. Not only will it give you options and potentially make your job better and easier, when review time rolls around you have several new skills to add to your yearly accomplishments.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I will ever be grateful to the dude who posted a YouTube video of how to find the recharging connection for the new-design Yankee Flipper bird feeder, because one charge lasts just long enough for me to completely forget which thing you move which way. Every time.

    3. Camellia*

      Sounds like you need what my company calls an IDP – individual development plan. Something you could come up with and get approval for, such as on-line courses to take or materials to read. Stuff that either pertains to your job (obvious examples are Excel or Word), or that might help prepare you for advancement or other positions.

      1. Camellia*

        And as Cosmic Avenger said, a lot of these are free. You could even get digital library books of ‘approved’ subject matter – check them out.

        1. Mistressfluffybutt*

          And a lot of companies will pay for some professional development if you ask. My company will reimburse you for approved udemy courses (it’s not hard to get approval you just have to show that it has some use for your job) or I worked for a place that would give you a lynda log in for any professional type course. It didn’t even have to directly apply to your job, just anything that you could spin to be useful. I’ve worked in a lot of call centers and a lot really approved of me using code academy or looking at Chinese flash cards or whatever my interest du jour was in my down time.

    4. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      Are there professional development opportunities in your field that you can do in the office? Online courses, etc.?

    5. anyone out there but me*

      Can you help someone else with a project? Is there a manager you can ask for extra assignments? I feel for you, having worked for a boss whose mantra was “There is always work that can be done….” when honestly, there were times when there just wasn’t.

      Can you just look busy and if someone asks, answer that you are “doing research”?? :P

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Another is to come up with process improvements and propose doing them in your down time, like cross-referencing or reorganizing a filing system, or creating document templates for commonly used documents if you don’t have them. (You can create a Word template where it prompts you specifically for certain information, which would keep it more consistent instead of people creating their own each time.)

      1. animaniactoo*

        Yes, I created product templates for all our product and packaging and now one of my “downtime” things to do is update them, create new ones for new products that showed up but we never created an official template for them, etc.

        New project is creating a “using our templates” doc since my company has started sending them to other companies for some outsource stuff, and things we know about or how to do here get lost in translation there.

      2. OtterB*

        I was thinking about along these lines too. Is there something that would make your life or the team members’ lives easier when things are busy, that you could propose to develop now? A spreadsheet to keep track of something, a central repository for information that people sometimes have to scramble to find, something like that.

      3. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

        Yes! I created and optimized deploy scripts during downtime, and people loved it.

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        And if you haven’t done this before, mock one up (or actually complete one if you can do it in an hour or less), then show it to the person who uses it and point out how it saves them time and effort. Don’t just spend 8 or 20 hours getting everything right and assume that they’ll use it. If you just describe what you want to do, sometimes the “client” can’t picture what you have in mind, and from that point on will be more resistant. If it’s the kind of thing that will take you many hours even to mock up, then you can try pitching it, but you may really have to sell your idea, even if it makes their job many times easier.

      1. Buffy*

        Hey, you could take time to read Alison’s new book! (I did this week during a slow work time.) :)

      2. Specialk9*

        Haha I was thinking, uhhh…

        But seriously, it’s wise to limit that.

        Other things I recommend:
        -Take training in a tool that’s widely used in the industry.
        -Work on certifications.
        -Read industry blogs.
        -Do tutorials on how to do things in Excel (if you don’t already know how to do formulas and pivot tables and charts, those are good ones to know) and Word (auto-headings, formatting, page vs section breaks).
        -Listen to free audiobooks from the library on a discreet earbud, while paging through a work doc.

    7. animaniactoo*

      My go-tos now are research and watching lynda.com videos of applications I know to be better at them (there’s alot that’s been added to some of them since I first started and I haven’t actually learned all of it), or looking into new ones that could be useful.

      Also approved stuff: checking product reviews of my company’s products (particularly the ones I’ve worked on), and doing comparison research.

      1. Squeeble*

        Ha! I did this when I worked on a college campus and needed a break–grab a clipboard, take a walk around the quad.

      2. Dasein9*

        I once worked for a family business owned by very religious folks. I was given a Bible and may have opened it and bowed my head when in need of a na-ahem!-“quiet time.”

    8. KL*

      I’m going through this right now. I have a newer boss and he’s too busy to give me anything. ><

      I've been keeping up with the news, looking at training opportunities and taking courses. I've also been asking if anyone else needs help.

      1. Specialk9*

        One thing you could try, if it seems ok for your office… instead of just asking to help, is to ask someone (who’s not totally slammed) if they would take a half-hour and explain what they do, so you can learn the larger business. Then when you ask to help, you have context. Take notes, run it past them, and then keep it as a cheat-sheet on the org. I’ll bet your boss would appreciate it, if they’re that slammed.

        There are few people who understand a business sideways – most people know their own drilled-hole of knowledge. Being that person is powerful – you can connect people in an informal way (oh hey, did you know Barbara’s working on something similar?).

    9. Secretary*

      I usually have a long term project that I make up for slow periods. A few of mine include deleting old data that’s over 7 years old, creating a binder with training questions on how to do my job (in case I get hit by a bus or something), reorganizing files, desk cleanup/organization, etc.

    10. epi*

      I’m a grad student. So I may take the opportunity to work on my own stuff, take a break or even go home for the day, or find my boss/go through my email to look for more work.

      If we’ve been super busy lately, I’m likely to take back some of the time to catch up on my own projects, which is expected for me. If I know my boss is busy (or she knows that I’m not), I’ll of course go find her and see if she needs help.

    11. MuseumChick*

      Work on my “Hit-By-A-Bus” documents. Basically, writing down the processes for everything I do so if I get hit by a bus tomorrow someone else would be able to do my job.

    12. Susan Sto Helit*

      It really depends on the industry. Mine is creative, so I can spend down time coming up with/investigating new concepts (even if that’s a whole lot of scrolling through Pinterest), following relevant twitter feeds etc. I guess in other industries that sort of thing is harder to sell though.

      As long as your workplace isn’t super weird about internet usage, you could probably get away with reading industry-specific websites and news feeds, and maybe creating a twitter list of industry-relevant influencers etc. If they don’t like internet usage, see if they’re subscribed to any industry periodicals/magazines that you might be able to read.

      If all else fails, I’d be very tempted to smuggle in an ereader (or even ask my boss if that would be ok – assuming my boss wasn’t someone who might be tempted to think that if I didn’t have enough work to do they should cut my hours).

    13. selina kyle*

      I know a lot of people are going to say super productive things, but sometimes I just watch videos on YouTube/listen to podcasts and wait for something to show up. I rely a lo ton people emailing me back, so I have some down time at times. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with spending a few minutes here and there for yourself if you’re caught up on work.

    14. Jane of all Trades*

      I think once you’ve identified any sources of work, by reaching out to others, creating templates, or whatever makes sense, and there aren’t relevant trainings that you can go through (and from the thread it looks like you have already done that and are very proactive about it) I would see no problem in reading a book. Unless your job is one where, if things get busy you work ridiculously long hours, and therefore it makes sense to reclaim personal time when the opportunity arises, I probably would not leave the office, even to nap in the car. Especially because it sounds like a support ticket could come in at all times, so you want to be available should that happen!

      1. Penny Lane*

        I would be unimpressed by someone who can’t figure out something to do. Improve a process. Be a leader.

        1. Jane of all Trades*

          Eh, I think it depends on your role. If you are the it support person, and you have already offered help to anybody who might need it, have cleared out all your emails, have written process manuals, and so on, there may genuinely be some days where you don’t have work for 8 hrs.
          On the other hand, I have had a person on my team who pulled out a magazine and read through it when there was stuff to be done, without asking for work, and not wanting to get training on a new project – that’s a HUGE deal and in my eyes would need to get a person fired.
          TLDR – totally depends on your job and how much you’ve tried to find work.
          Our team admin assistant sometimes doesn’t have work to do, because we are overstaffed on admins as the intensity of our work fluctuates – better slightly overstaffed than understaffed. Sometimes she has done all there is to do, and identified any organizing that needed to be done etc, and genuinely has no work left to do. No problem at all that she then reads or plays solitaire – when things get busy she gives 110% and stays late when needed.

    15. Is It Spring Yet?*

      Step 1: ask people if they need a hand. Done be that vague or you WILL find yourself filing or other base office stuff.

      Step 2: take a moment to tidy your area. Physically and electronically.

      Step 3: learn something! Something simply justifiable to your boss of course. Theres nothing better than getting paid to learn and then being able to add it to your status report. “Learned More about X, which has beena weak point/cause of Y issue/frequent question for myself or others.

      I love step 3. Its how ive learned most of my Excel knowledge and let me explore some concepts in depth that more experienced people just dont have the time/interest/ability to teach.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Step 4. Document your job. You won’t be in your job forever and the next person will appreciate any notes you have on how to do your job. I know I appreciated the notes my predecessor provided!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          HELL YES.
          Plus it’s good practice in procedure writing. I was required to do this at Exjob and also to keep them updated as procedures changed . But I’ve done it for every job I’ve had since I worked in a materials testing lab, where the previous clerk left a whole folder of notes for her successor. I was so grateful. That was a very persnickety job because of environmental regulations regarding files, chain of custody for samples, etc.

          Not only does it help me learn how to do stuff, but if anyone should have to do my work while I’m on holiday or if I get hit by a bus, they have all the instructions right there. I also wrote one at OldExjob for temps covering the front desk while we were in our all-company meetings.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      If a component of the job is “be available to help people when they appear needing help” then I think grabbing your book and reading is absolutely okay. Possibly it should be a serious work related to your field if people walking by would judge your having time to read romances poorly; possibly people would be absolutely thrilled to find you sitting at your desk, reading a romance novel, because it meant you were easy to find when they needed you. (I loathe the standard that people sitting and waiting for calls or visitors to come in should gaze into the middle distance in a thoughtful manner, rather than read a book, because only the former looks professional.)

      More broadly, after finishing the busy work (might as well be uber prepared for the regular parts of your job) some sort of education that goes at your own pace. I know there are online self-guided courses, and you could literally choose a topic, pull up Britannica, and research. (Also like Soupmonger’s suggestion to flag that you are available, though the acceptable frequency of flagging is very office dependent. But some people might think “Oh! I could give this to Friday!” and it would solve your boredom and earn you Friday-is-so-reliable points.)

    17. Environmental Compliance*

      Well, at one of my previous jobs, the process was that if any of us ran out of work, we’d ask the supervisor for more. Supervisor ran out of stuff for me to do, and none of my coworkers had anything that they could pass to me. Supervisor gave me permission to work on my grad school stuff and/or knit with the obvious caveat that when I got work finally to move onto that promptly.

      At current job I look up relevant industry news, regulation publications/news, and slowly reorganize my portion of the shared drive.

    18. essEss*

      If my coworkers don’t have overflow work to give to me, then I take online courses at coursera.org or udemy.com, especially for technical topics related to my job.

    19. DivineMissL*

      This happens to me a lot. I have a couple of long-term projects that I work on when I have time – informational brochures for the public, research on finding available grants, etc. That way I can keep busy on slow days.

    20. EgbertM*

      Sudoku, Tetris, personal programming projects, Solitaire, research interesting topics online, find podcasts to listen to while doing the above…

      I also spend some time helping others with their work if they need it or want it.

      *NOTE: I’m completely serious, and you need to understand that the disorganization of where I work leads to large quantities of time where I literally have nothing to work but they expect me to be in my seat. I’ve tried asking for more work, I’ve explained the problem, but there seems to be little will to do things differently. So, I play games.

      1. Batshua*

        I am trying to find things to do that don’t qualify as “playing games” or “surfing the web”, two things which I’m sure would get me in the hottest of water.

        So far, I’ve got use the subpar social networking site that’s work-specific, do terribly produced cringeworthy optional trainings, and read journal articles through work’s “knowledge base” (basically an online library).

        I’m reading a LOT of journal articles right now.

        1. Batshua*

          (They keep telling me not to surf the web, but they also won’t give me anything to DO during my downtime. This is terrible, because I have ADHD, and the boredom, man, the boredom. AAM is my sekrit thing that I pop into on my downtime or between tasks when I’m trying to spread out my work.)

    21. SFL*

      Can you find some side-projects that will help out the office/colleagues? I suddenly have a week off downtime right now because a client put a project on hold, so I’ve been making checklists and templates for people in the office to reference, cleaning up our resources drive (it’s a total mess, people just save stuff randomly in there without any organization), and spending more time teaching the interns.

    22. Becky*

      If you’re running into this, then there is a chance that others are too at different points. Is there a list of tasks and things that need to be done that always get pushed to the back burner? Maybe as a team you can brainstorm some items and use those as things to do when you have down time.

    23. nep*

      Are there any continuing education or development courses you could do while at work?

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    Inspired by this morning’s post #2:

    Does anyone here have good things to say about a company who outsourced their IT support? Every advertising holding company seems to have decided to do this in the last 3-5 years to save money, and at every agency I’ve been at, it’s been a hot mess for us actual working stiffs — it takes days to resolve a problem that used to take hours or even minutes, and the only way it seems to be possible to get an issue resolved in a timely fashion is to circumvent the system (by calling or showing up at the desk of the only in-house IT person who hasn’t been laid off instead of putting in a ticket like you’re supposed to).

    I guess it’s saving the higher-ups enough money that they don’t give a crap whether or not the system is actually working well for the boots-on-the-ground people. But I’m curious as to whether outsourcing works well for other companies and if so, what do you do that MAKES it work?

    (Also, tell your outsourced IT horror stories! A recent one of mine: I was moved to a new location in the office, but my phone wasn’t moved with me. I put in a ticket to have my phone connected at my new desk, which languished for about 10 days before I was finally contacted by email. They asked me what the best phone number and time was to reach me at. HELLO, MY PROBLEM IS THAT YOU HAVEN’T SET UP MY PHONE! And I really didn’t feel like giving them my personal cell. Sigh.)

    1. Temperance*

      Nope. I don’t know anyone who has good experience with outsourced IT support. I once was asked by an outsourced IT person whether “my little sister might have spilled a drink on my computer” because of a known issue with the laptop. My response was less than pleasant, and was along the lines of “why would a grown The same person then said that they were “installing a driver” and then installed a computer program that disabled the mouse while I was typing. It didn’t fix the known issue with my keyboard, though.

        1. Temperance*

          LOL I apparently deleted an entire sentence. “Why would a grown woman calling from her place of work have a little sister around to spill drinks?”

          1. GlitsyGus*

            Oh man, now I kinda want someone to ask me that. I really want to say, “I’m pretty sure my 40-year-old little sister didn’t drive 60 miles just to walk into my office this morning and spill her drink on my keyboard.”

            I know part of being an IT person is ruling out the obvious but come on.

          2. Anonymous Ampersand*

            Wow I presumed the sister thing was relevant to something. They just made up a story?! Why sister not brother/cat/dog?!

    2. Alternative Person*

      An old company of mine had out-sourced the system to someone on the other side of the world. It was a pain in the butt to deal with recurring issues that the IT guy couldn’t replicate/see in the system.

    3. Really?*

      At my old company it was so bad people didn’t bother calling IT they’d figure out any propable workaround they could before they tried. Also the company estimated the change might not save money until 5 years or so down the line, and even then it might not do so. CEO said this in an upbeat way – meanwhile people had lost their jobs/become contractors with less job security/pay while the company’s fundamental day to day business was dependent on IT – I mean this included our printers and photocopiers not just stuff that could be dealt with remotely. I’m sure it might have saved some sort of money in one column but it definitely decreased productivity and morale.

    4. Yams*

      Oh, I used to work at a massive worldwide company that outsourced their IT to different places. But they made sure to always have support. For common issues (printers, email issues, etc) you’d get an answer within like half an hour but for the more complex ones (propietary software) you’d have to wait for a specialist to be avaible which could take a couple days. Otherwise it worked pretty well, I don’t really have complaints.
      My current employer has in house IT… I have no idea where they are and I still can’t get them to fix my email after a year.

    5. Qmatilda*

      Outsourced IT at my office and let me tell you my most recent horror story. I have a client that does skype conference calls. My system was not letting me connect and the local guy’s answer was, “submit a ticket” so i do and the initial answer was , “you cannot externally skype” my response (via ticket update) was – this is a client requirement, how can this be fixed? 6 months later and several IT chats later including screen share, etc. i get, “you cannot skype externally.” I give up.

        1. Darury*

          It depends on how Skype is setup. I’ve worked in places where it was strictly in-house and others where it was federated with the general public. What I haven’t seen is where you can limit Skype to companies X, Y, and Q but not allow the whole world to use it. It’s probably possible, but while I’m an IT guy, I’m not any sort of Skype specialist.

    6. Really?*

      The first people they put you through to on the call don’t actually know what they’re doing and are just following a script and can be incredibly patronizing. I actually knew what an issue was with my computer, but couldn’t fix it myself (I had it happen multiple times before.) I had to plea with this woman not to make the changes and to leave it alone, she repeatedly wouldn’t believe me and acted like I was stupid – although I knew the suggestions she made would completely corrrupt my system and make everything worse (because this had been done multiple times before.) Finally I convinced her to stop trying to ‘help me’ and to leave it. Moments later I’m called by a supervisor, who understands what I’m talking about and fixes it in about two minutes. But if I hadn’t known what I was talking about the first person would have totally screwed everything up because supposedly they’re meant to know what they’re doing.

    7. Not Maeby But Surely*

      My employer outsources its IT work to another company local to the same state we’re headquartered in. I’d say it works pretty well for us. We have decent response times and have built up a good rapport with the IT crew over the 10+ years we’ve worked with them. My only complaint is they seem to relegate us all to the status of “idiots who don’t know anything about computers” when in reality, only 95% of us are “idiots” like that. :)

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Nope, my experience at OldJob was horrible. Tickets basically went into a black hole and you were on your own to fix it. We technically still had an onsite team, but they could only receive requests through the ticketing system.

    9. Susan Sto Helit*

      Our current IT security system is set up so that almost every time someone sends me a file with a substantial attachment (which is…all the time) the security software blocks it and I then have to raise a ticket and get someone to release it. Which could take an hour or more sometimes. And when something is going back and forth a lot, this can happen several times a day.

      Unsurprisingly, this means that when something is on an urgent deadline I usually have to give up and get company stuff sent to my personal email address instead because /we do not have time to deal with this/. It’s maddening.

      (Things our company software blocks include: any mention of blue tits, great tits, shags and multiple other birds, and also anything involving the UK town of Scunthorpe).

      1. Is It Spring Yet?*

        How about the Blue Footed Boobie?

        Please say you work with environmental stuff and titsare frequently mentioned

      2. Nashira*

        Your company is not setting y’all up for success. If you have a need to share large files and there’s a limitation on email, then they should provide you with a secure file sharing method. I’m judging them.

      3. GlitsyGus*

        Your system would probably explode if you ever sent an email regarding the copulation and scat contents of the tomtits and banded coots within the town of Intercourse Pennsylvania and whether Randy Johnson killing a dove with a fastball contributed to any changes.

    10. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Nope, outsourced IT was a nightmare for my company.
      This was several years ago and our (then) parent company outsourced our IT support, leaving our two on-site IT support (one due to retire, one just generally useless) to handle things that just can’t be dealt with off-site (printer jams, loose cabling, that sort of thing).
      They were rubbish! We went from having our IT issues resolved (even by Mr Generally Useless) within a few hours, to system-wide down time for DAYS. Staff were left unable to login to systems that were the entire basis for their working day – we even got locked out of Microsoft Office at one point! The whole company was unable to send emails or use spreadsheets for over half a day – but all our paperwork was filed or shredded, so that’s something! This was also while our parent company bled us dry with other cost cutting measures. By the time we were sold we were a shell of our former glory (but paperless!).
      New parent company has invested HUGELY in most departments, primarily IT, bringing it all back in house. Our IT support is now far better, and expanded (Mr Generally Useless was let go, and replaced by two Very Capable guys who are a pleasure to work with), and we’re back to having almost all issues resolved within hours, except where it’s an external issue (our IT guys are great, but even they can’t do anything about a county-wide telecoms outage!)

    11. Didi*

      At my current and past company (for 13 years total) outsourced IT support from India has been excellent – issues have been resolved quickly and competently.

      Just as how there are competent and incompetent employees, there are competent and incompetent IT service providers.

      1. Samiratou*

        Indeed. I suspect our outourced IT company outsources in turn, and the first company they contracted with was really bad. After leadserhip stepped in, they got uniformally better in a way that makes me think they changed companies.

      2. Menacia*

        I happen to do internal IT support for a company, but have had to use the outsourced support of other companies most without much luck. I think it’s extremely difficult for an outsourced company, that has no intimate knowledge of the infrastructure, devices, applications, etc. to provide competent support. If they can remote into the computer, they have a leg up, but still would not know if there are gateways, firewalls, policies, etc., causing issues unless they were constantly being made aware of the existing environment and apprised of any changes. I even have a difficult time when encountering an issue which turns out to be caused by a change to the environment because the Help Desk was not made aware, and the infrastructure team sits not 10 feet away. The only thing we outsource is development and support of our ERP and other specific applications for which we could not hire anyone to support in-house. That is the *smart* way of doing support, knowing what capabilities can and should be outsourced and which ones cannot.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve seen “in-house” outsourcing be OK – that is, the people who do some specialized function (maintain the servers, etc) work for the company, but they live in India. The time delay is a minor nuisance, because they’re asleep when you’re working, and vice versa. But at least here, there are local people empowered to step in if things really go to heck, and the 99% of routine tickets can wait half a day.

      On the other side, I worked for a startup that had outsourced their IT to a contractor. This contractor sent an IT tech to the office once every two weeks, for half a day. All maintenance issues were to be saved for that time. The more obnoxious part was, the IT contractor locked down our computers so tightly, we couldn’t do our jobs unless the tech was there. We brought in our own computers, but were quickly “caught” connecting them to the network, which they locked down even further in response. So…after trying, and failing, to hack into my own work computer so I could do my bleeping job…I intentionally messed with it in a way that would require the IT tech to log on as the master account to fix, then shoulder-surfed the password. The software team could suddenly do its job again.

      1. Serin*

        My company has this, and I have 99% good feelings about it (the 1% being that I’m a little hard of hearing and accents are difficult for me, so if for some reason the chat function isn’t available, it’s a bit of a trial for both me and the help desk agent).

    13. Specialk9*

      We’ve had some rough spots, but by now generally our outsourced IT support is pretty good.

    14. Samiratou*

      Yes, though ours is getting better. When they first outsourced it it was really bad. We called them the No-Help desk because they couldn’t even reach the basic level of competence of Googling the problem first (as if any of us would have contacted them if we could find the solution on the web!). Tickets would either get ignored or closed and even if you called they’d be “escalated” then ignored.

      Leadership got so many complaints they had to actually do something about it, though, so things are better now.

    15. Juli G.*

      Eh, I haven’t seen much of a difference (although maybe that speaks more of our old internal IT group).

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Every time a company has outsourced the help desk, it’s sucked. I have a hard time with accents, and the Asian and surrounding area languages are really hard for me. The interesting part is when it backfires, because it will eventually. I didn’t work there, my friend did and I heard about it from her, so for your enjoyment, a fairly extreme version of what can go wrong:

      The company outsourced to wherever. A disproportionate amount of the profits came from a service that was dependent on a very specific, and somewhat outdated, software. There were no easy replacements. Pre outsourcing, they had a team of 3-5 people who knew the system inside and out, could fix it, improve it, etc. Post outsourcing, they laid off that team. Cue problems with the system, since it wasn’t being maintained properly, which had a direct impact on profits. About a year later, the outsourced IT tried to update something around the system (like Windows updates, but more obscure). This incredibly important system flat out died. Could NOT work with the updates. IT panicked, tried to fix it, etc. Eventually they undid the update, but they’d messed with the system enough that it still wouldn’t work. We’re talking at least 50% of the revenue just ground to a halt overnight, and there was a domino effect financially. Company is now out of business. My friend landed on her feet somewhere else and is doing just fine.

    17. SarahKay*

      Nope, our outsourced IT is a disaster.

      Horror story: we had a new attendance tracking system installed, and I’m the local expert, so would usually submit the tickets if there was a problem. For about three weeks every time I submitted a ticket it would be assigned to…. me! Emails telling them to stop assigning my tickets to me got me nowhere; in the end I had to submit a new ticket to get my name removed from the list of people who could resolve tickets.

      This was all made more infuriating by the fact that I would escalate the tickets and would get a supremely unhelpful email from the escalation team telling me how my ticket was important to them and was being worked, and finishing with “Have a great day!” That last exclamation mark at the end of their meaningless and unhelpful email would get my blood pressure rising every time.

    18. Bea W*

      No. Not ever. My worst experience was working remotely and not being able to access the network after the company moved all us folks from Aquired Teapots from our former company’s image to the Global Teapots company image that was heavily locked down. In order to access vpn I needed to install a program that was not included in the new image.

      I called GT’s outsourced tech support to have this fixed. The support tech was actually on top of her stuff, but she could not fix the issue. No one had given the support staff the admin account password for the new image. She tried every password she had on file, and nothing! She had to open a ticket for desk side support at the office location. I had to physically be at the office to have this fixed. So much for working remotely! If I had been on a business trip I would have been even more livid than I already was.

    19. Coalea*

      This is so timely, as I’m in the midst of yet another IT debacle! I submitted a ticket as required, which was almost immediately closed, with the “resolution” being a request from the tech to call him to discuss. Well, 2 weeks of phone tag later, I’ve had enough and emailed his boss to ask that she either make him actually schedule a call with me, or assign the issue to someone else who will actually help me. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened – our IT department is judged on how many tickets they close and how quickly they close them, so they are prone to closing them even when issues haven’t really been resolved. So frustrating!!!

    20. Lora*

      They can do simple things like map a printer that’s not popping up on your list, fix MS Office things, fix your Skype. Anything else…well, I’ve had a ticket in to fix the license mapping on specialty software that I require to do my job since December. It’s basically never going to get done, so I do stuff on my home desktop or kludge or have a contractor who has the software correctly installed by *his* employer on their laptop. This has been my experience at every job I’ve ever had except one, which was a startup that didn’t last. Simple standard stuff will be okay-ish, anything more complicated forget it.

    21. Turquoisecow*

      Nope. My company does this (they’re woefully behind on technology, and this is just one example) and it takes forever to get anything accomplished. Most of it is remote, and the one guy we have on site (once or twice a week) is the laziest guy who will leave things half unfinished. I guess someone figured it saved money, but it’s such a hassle.

    22. IT Support Marketer*

      Oof. As the marketing manager for an outsourced IT company, this thread hurts a little bit. There are some good IT companies out there, I promise! But yeah, that does sound like an incredibly frustrating experience.

      It’s very much a get what you pay for industry. That doesn’t mean there are no good, cheap IT companies but they’re typically small and can’t handle a ton of customers (or large customers). There are, of course, bad employees at more expensive shops, too.

      Every IT company should have service level agreements (SLAs) documenting how quickly they will respond to an issue (if they don’t, don’t work with them) based on severity. If can’t consistently meet SLAs, that’s a problem.

      If you’re looking for an IT company, a good question to ask is how they measure their techs. You’ll probably have a better experience with companies that measure based on customer satisfaction and meeting SLAs then you will with a company who measures based on how many tickets are closed in a day.

      The keys to making it work well are:
      -Overcommunication: Let your IT company know when something changes or is going to change if it’s even tangentially related to computers (this is more for whoever your main point of contact is at your organization). At the individual level, give as many details as possible (the issue, what you were doing when it happened, information about your computer, what you’ve already tried to do fix it) when you first put in a ticket, including the best way to reach you and when. This goes both ways. Your IT company should be communicating with you about what they’re doing, and when they will work on your ticket.

      -Proactively managing the network to reduce break/fix tickets: This is another one that is typically going to fall on the decision makers. An example of this is upgrading your firewall if you are hiring a bunch of new people. Your firewall can affect your internet speed, and if there is more traffic than it can handle, it’s going to slow things down. Upgrading before that happens will prevent issues from coming up.

      -Setting expectations: This is more on the IT company side. We don’t work on tickets on a first come, first serve basis. A server down at one company is going to take priority over a single user having issues on the desktop version of Outlook (but can still use the web version). But if that Outlook user doesn’t know that, it’s not going to be a great experience for them, even if we’re meeting our SLA. IT companies and customers need to work together to manage those expectations for everyone. But if the IT company isn’t meeting those expectations, that’s an issue–which is why SLAs are important.

      I hope this helps some and that you have better experiences with your IT company! Sorry this is a basically a novel!

      1. IT Support Marketer*

        Oh I forgot to mention! If you have an internal IT person and an outsourced IT company, setting expectations about who handles what is a huge key to success, too. No clear delineation around that is how a lot of tickets fall through the cracks.

    23. Minocho*

      I am IT, and I’ve been in departments that were gutted while the company switched to outsourcing, and been part of the team rebuilding from switching from outsourced to in house it. One company in particular was ramping up from being outsourced to in house, I lost my job three years later due to an outsourcing switch, and I received word from former coworkers a few years later that it was going back to in house IT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, really.

      In house support feels more like part of the team, and if well managed, is more likely to understand business needs and relative priority of issues. They have a direct stake not only in doing their job, but in helping the company succeed. But managing, hiring and maintaining a team of IT professionals in a company where IT doesn’t drive revenue is usually seen as overhead, and it is expensive.

      Outsourcing is almost always less expensive on a budget sheet, even when the sources are in the same country, because every company is focusing on a core competency. Buuuuut…they don’t understand your business, they have much less of a stake in your success, and communication across competencies can become very painful very quickly. Add increased turnaround times due to remote support, language or time zone issues, and more remote communications and relationships, and it only gets worse from there.

    24. Dear liza dear liza*

      Our Learning Management System help line was superb…and then it was outsourced. First, any time I called, it took 10-15 minutes for the rep to take down all my info before I was allowed to ask my question. Half the time, they couldn’t answer it, straight up. So glad I wasted that 10-15 minutes upfront ! One time, as an instructor, I uploaded a file bit for some reason my students couldn’t see it. I called, gave all my data, asked my question, was put on hold, got transferred, explained everything again, was put on hold.. TWO hours later, the rep said the problem was on the instructors end and I should talk to him. “I’M THE INSTRUCTOR!” I yelled, and hung up.

    25. Iben*

      I’ve seen it work once, with a large finance company I worked at that outsourced daily support and maintenance but kept development in-house. What they did was create a joint venture with IBM, re-hire their own employees through the joint venture and outsource the it support to this company. Worked fine, but not sure what the benefit was as it employed the same people and paid them the same.

    26. a*

      Since I work for a state, some of our IT is outsourced and some is performed by a state agency. If you call the state agency, they will invariably tell you that since you work for Department X, you need to call Department X’s IT, but they do not know what that number is. Plus, they have camouflaged who handles different things such as the VOIP phones, the networks, hardware issues, software issues, updates, equipment replacement. In fact,the only thing you can reliably get the in-house IT to do is unlock your account if you’ve tried to sign in with the wrong password too many times. Our outsourced IT deals with only one aspect of my job, and they are FANTASTIC…as long as you are the slightest bit computer literate and can tell them what your specific problem is. They handle equipment problems, and try to deal with network issues (that aren’t even their problem). They’re very responsive, and frequently check in with the contacts at the different locations to make sure we’re all happy. (It’s kind of a strange set-up, though. We need them for one program that they provide, but they also supplied computers, cameras, printers, and Photoshop as part of the package. Thus, they can provide a good portion of our troubleshooting. And it’s rare when they say “It’s your network/software/issue and we can’t help.”)

  4. Fallen and Can't Get Up!*

    My grandmother recently fell and hurt herself to the point that she will not be able to live by herself in her home for the foreseeable future. At least six months, maybe to a year, and maybe not ever again. My family is pondering what to do with her for the next few months, until we figure out if this will be a permanent thing for my grandma or not, and I’m wondering about offering myself as an option while I go through a career shift.

    I am in my late 20’s and have been doing office secretary/administrative work for the past five years (retail between my college and full-time work). I’ve recently been thinking that I’d like to switch to a different career path, potentially marketing or editing/copywriting. My potential career paths both want experience that I don’t have that is very difficult to get with working a full-time job already. But if I was taking care of my grandmother (who doesn’t need around the clock care, just more someone to cook and clean for her, drive her to doctor’s appointments, and be able to check on her on a daily basis), that would leave me time to take a class or do an internship/part-time job. And since I’d be taking care of my grandma, I know my family would support me financially, rather than if I just quit my job and started down a new career path with only my savings to get me by.

    Family-wise, it also makes the most sense as my parents and aunts and uncles either have full-time jobs with a long career history that doesn’t allow the flexibility to not work or are taking care of little kids. I’m the eldest grandchild, the only one not in school, and early in my career path, especially with wanting to switch, that I don’t think taking a six-month to one-year break with volunteer/intern/part-time/classes to keep me going while also caring for my grandmother would be weird on my resume.

    Before I even offer this thought to my family, I wanted to get your opinions from the job perspective, not the family-welfare perspective. Would this move make sense? Would ‘caring for an elderly family member’ be a good reason for leaving my job and allowing me to try a new path?

    1. Rookie Manager*

      If I saw that on an application alongside classes/volunteering/internship I certainly wouln’t look at it unfavourably.

    2. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t do this. Granted, my take is going to be way more negative than you’re looking for, but here’s the truth: if you step up to act as a caregiver, you will be taking a step back in your career. It might be for years, and you might never, ever be able to get back up.

      You aren’t going to be able to be a caregiver while throwing yourself fully into a new career, especially editing or marketing. Editing is very, very hard to break into, and marketing is demanding.

      My MIL decided to take care of her parents a few years ago, and actively chose not to move closer to her children (where there are more jobs, and better paying jobs). It’s cost her so much, both personally and in her career, because once she took that on, it became her job to provide care, unpaid. I could rant on much more, but don’t do it. It’s not a good way to start a career.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agree times ten. Do not give up your income stream. This works into way more than you could ever dream of. A doctor’s appointment begets TEN more appointments, plus tests, plus scripts, medical items. Cleaning house works into waiting for the appliance repair person to come, or the furnace person or the plumber, there is always someone coming. “Just” cooking works into running to the store, hauling the food into the house and putting the food away. Notice you still have not cooked it yet. Checking in on her means finding out that she is messing up her meds some how, or my fav, figuring out she is out of a med at 8 pm, on a dark and snowy night. (That one worked into the pharmacist noticing I was alone, asked me if I was packing…. fun times.)
        Wait, we have not covered mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, winding he clock and emptying the pencil sharpener. (I can’t make this stuff up I am not that creative.) Meanwhile everyone else goes back to life, they get their degrees and their promotions and so on. And you’re stuck.
        At most, tell them you will work with someone else and share the responsibility. Preferably you would be working with several people.
        Reality is that grandmom needs help now, not in three months or however long it takes to make a decision.

    3. gbca*

      I think it depends a bit on what exactly you are doing with your time. Going back to school, interning, and working part-time are tangible things you can put on your resume. Other activities may not be resume-worthy, and thus would make a gap tougher to explain.

      How is your network and references? How employable do you think you are as an admin if this career shift doesn’t work out? I would factor that in as well.

    4. miyeritari*

      I wouldn’t look at your caretaking unfavorably, but I’m a pretty skeptical at one specific part of your plan.

      Let’s say you do take care of your grandmother, and you do get this internship/part-time job, and then you DO have the skills to start your new career path…

      ….. what happens to your grandmother when you start your full time job? You’re starting out at the bottom, so it’s not likely you’ll have the funds to hire a care-person to do what you do, and the sort of jobs you’re talking about can have long and/or unreliable hours. Will you and your family be eligible for some other kind of care you’re not eligible now? Will there be resentment towards you from your family (inc. your grandma) when you say ‘I’m going to stop being a caretaker now”?

      I’m worried you’ll be trapped in caretaking for the forseeable future.

      1. Shelly574*

        Yeah, I don’t see a way out of this either. Your Grandmother may live for a long time yet and you’re putting yourself in the position of being her caretaker. That’s find if you WANT that responsibility and are willing to sacrifice your own career to do it, but please know that you would be making a sacrifice.

        Your in your late 20s and this is when you need to start saving for retirement and thinking about your financial future. You say your family can help you financially now, but can they help you in ten years? Or fifteen? You’re losing out on really critical professional development experience that you might not be able to recover from.

        1. Temperance*

          Yep. People in ill health often live for years longer than you would expect, and once you are identified as the caregiver, you’re it.

      2. Temperance*

        This is a very eloquent, and very well-thought-out comment. I tried to express something similar and failed. Basically, OP, once you are identified as the family caregiver, you’re going to be stuck.

        Not to mention if you want to have a family of your own or if you might meet someone and want to build a life with him or her.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Ideally, it’s something like OP gives everyone a 6 month or 1 year deadline that they can use for planning purposes. Midway through this period is when Grandma’s health prognosis is clearer and the family know if they need to look at hiring live-in help, or drop-in help, or a nursing home, or she can be independent again, or what. For a family member looking for a chance to gather themselves and launch off in a new direction, this recovery and evaluation period can be a good match for everyone. But it’s important that it not be indefinite, like extending as long as needed (can be literal decades) or all parts will suddenly neatly tie themselves off the moment something turns up (so not while OP applies to jobs that would start in a week and make her unable to do this one).

        I have no idea how hard it is to move from admin to marketing or editing intern, and that side of the plan gives me more pause. I would guess that this works better for far-flung and obscure internships (sheepherding), rather than fields that lots of people want to break into (publishing).

        1. Temperance*

          The reason I think I’m so opposed to this idea is that I’ve seen it backfire on the “temporary” caregiver so many times that I can’t ever support it. You can set out with an agreement to do it for a limited time, and then once you’re in place, it’s like the conversation about someone else taking over never happened, and you’re in a tough spot because you’re already there and it’s not like you’re going to leave Grandma alone while someone else takes a turn.

          Plus, if you want a family of your own, or to have a successful relationship, being a caregiver will impede that.

          1. Washi*

            This is unfortunately often very true. I work with the elderly, and “how do we take care of grandma” can end up being incredibly divisive, even in a close family. And also harder on the caregiver than most people realize. Your grandmother could have many years left, or on the other hand, she could fall again and break a hip or develop dementia, and require much more care than you realized.

            If you want to do this, I would recommend
            1) Taking a hard look at your family and how they negotiate responsibilities. Who do you think will step up? Who will criticize but never help? Who will offer help but never come through?
            2) Reading some books about caregiving. It’s a big commitment, even if it’s only for a limited period.
            3) If it seems like your family is just dithering about what to do and your deadline is approaching, hire a geriatric care manager who can talk through the options and help your family make a plan. Paying for someone can be the kick in the butt to actually do the thing.

            Good luck!

          2. Lora*

            THIS. And this is a very nicey-nice way of putting it.

            I have not ever seen anyone take over caretaking duties that didn’t end with Grandma either going to the real nursing home or dying. If you take this on, assume it will be until Grandma dies or goes to the nursing home with double pneumonia and is unlikely to ever come home, sort of thing.

            And even a very very sickly Grandma can hang on for YEARS longer than anyone believes. Elderly relatives in my family who were active and ate vegetables went downhill fast and died within months of entering a nursing home while people who were completely bedridden and at death’s door managed to hang on for several years.

            Also, FYI? Caretaking SUCKS. It’s doing the Lord’s work for sure, but OMG scrubbing an adult human’s poop and other bodily fluids out of carpets, helping them with the bathroom, cleaning up the days-old dirty diapers they mysteriously stashed in inexplicable places, cooking whatever food their fussy tastes will tolerate *today* and watching them eat one bite and decide they aren’t hungry, etc. gets miserable fast. If they don’t go out (read: you don’t MAKE them turn off the teevee and go out to a social club) and do social things, they will be thirsty for any interaction and you’ll have to listen for hours about what was on daytime teevee and things that happened 50 years ago and their bowel movements and just…everything. If you haven’t seen the SNL skit for Alexa Silver, it’s pretty much that. While you’re cleaning up the dirty diaper that has been under their bed, stinking, for a whole week, and then they scream about how it must be a dead mouse in the wall making the smell because you’re such a lousy housekeeper. You’ll cook them meals they don’t eat, and when you go to the store for an hour they will call 911 and get rushed to the emergency room for hypoglycemia and dehydration….because they didn’t want to eat the sandwich and “forgot” to drink the water bottle you put right in front of them, and then you have to explain to the nice social worker that no Grandma is NOT being neglected what the heck?!? Then you get home and Grandma acts like nothing happened and could you please help her find (thing she hasn’t owned since 1972).

            Seriously do not underestimate how bad elder care sucks out loud.

            1. Workerbee*

              It is an unfortunate part of human life. I have been meaning to write myself a note that says, “If I ever get to THIS stage, LET someone get me into assisted care” –or whatever is needed for whatever ‘THIS stage” is –because damn. Family caregivers get all the burden without the benefit of training or immediate emotional distance. Add in guilt, anger, and changed feelings toward your loved one. I don’t know if one can still feel romantic love, for example, toward one’s spouse when you are doing nearly or entirely 24/7 caregiving. Some kind of love, sure, but there comes a difference.

              And it’s just like others have said, once you’re seen as the person taking care of things, offers to help out get mightily scarce. Or people applaud themselves for calling up one nursing home one time to see if there’s a spot for dear old dad.

              Caregivers, you all really are heroes–and I wish that being a hero didn’t mean that you’re expected to be strong and work alone.

            2. Temperance*

              This comment nails it, 100%. My MIL has been the caregiver for her parents for many years at this point, and I honestly think it’s going to kill her sooner or later. Her parents refuse to ask their son (her brother) for help, they refused non-family care up until very, very recently, and it’s a thankless job that has kneecapped her earning capacity and probably set her up to die sooner, too.

              There’s a reason that people get paid to do this work, and it’s because it succcccccccks.

            3. puzzld*

              Have you been peeking into my window? Seriously. I’ve been taking care of Mom for the last 10 years. 8 years ago she wasn’t going to make it till the weekend. But here we are. Fortunately mom has sufficient money to pay care givers for 50 or so hours a week so I can go to work and rest, grocery shop, etc. I have the night shift and most of the time it’s not bad, when she gets a good nights sleep, I can rest too. When she doesn’t, we’re all miserable.
              In the last 8 years, I’ve managed one 1 week vacation (which went to hell for other reasons) and a few weekends a year. My life is not my own. So yeah. Think 3 times before you step up to be a care giver.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          A red flag when up in my mind when I read the first line of 6 months to a year. OP, if it takes them 6 months to figure out what to do then they are NOT working on it. They are ignoring the situation. It should be a matter of a few weeks, maybe LESS.
          You go out look at a few places and talk to people and make a decision. That’s it. This is not on the level of curing cancer or finding world peace. And there are not 10k options to chose from. The first thing is to look at how grandma will pay for it. This narrows down the options very quickly once they know what resources are available. The long part is emptying the house, which does not require you to be there daily.

    5. Mr. Rogers*

      I think it would be fine if you’re filling your time with things that will make you more employable in those fields (like an internship), which assumes your grandmother is near enough to places with those opportunities. But past a year is probably going to get rough, so be sure your family knows your offer is limited in scope—and that you have a backup if you need to hop on a stellar full time opportunity. I would start applying to entry level spots in those industries ASAP just in case, because it might take a while to actually land something.

    6. Val*

      I don’t have any terribly useful advice, but I’m in a similar position with regards to my mom, who’s in the very early stages of Alzheimers. She doesn’t need constant care so much as someone to remind her what day it is, and help her keep a consistent routine. I’m living in a very expensive part of the country, working a job I love that doesn’t pay enough to be sustainable long-term, so I need to make some kind of move anyway. It’s such a hard thing to figure out, without really being able to see the long-term results :/ I’m glad someone else is asking similar questions.

    7. Specialk9*

      I think you’re seeing yourself up for long term financial hardship. Especially if you’re female, dealing with male family members. Families have a tendency to take for granted a family member, especially a female in a caregiving role. They might pay now, but in the future they may have financial issues and pull the rug out from under you (and you’re family so just deal, guilt trip) in a way they wouldn’t with a professional (bc then grandma might move in with them). It’s really gambling with your future.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s made my life a lot harder. And OP, do NOT expect your family to be eternally grateful. It’s more like, “Oh, you helped with mom? What were you working on?”

        1. Temperance*

          Yep. If they aren’t contributing, and by that I mean taking a fair share, they have no freaking idea what it entails.

    8. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I think if your family will support you and you can pursue classes, part-time work or internships in your chosen field, there is no reason to think that this will significantly set you back, careerwise. I also think that from a completely non-career perspective, you will never regret spending this time caring for your grandma and getting to know her better. I do think that it would be good to have a plan in place in case your grandma needs more continuous care than the year or so you plan to help out, but I’m sure you and your family are already thinking about that.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My take on it: go ahead, as long as you’re very clear with everyone in the family (in writing clear) that there is a end date to your availability, so you can devote x amount of time to this then alternative arrangements will have to be found. The thing is, if you can devote 6-12 months while doing classes, etc, at that point doctors will have a better idea of long term outlook for your grandmother. With that information, your family can make appropriate plans. Maybe assisted living will be needed. Maybe a personal aide will come in daily. Maybe she’s fully independent again. You could give everyone some time to get to that point.

      However, this only will work if your family will respect that timeframe, actually plan to fill the gap when you get a job, not give you crap, etc. If you don’t think they’ll do that, then no. You will want to get EVERYTHING in writing, including financial support from your family. A written agreement that you will be paid $x a month.

      1. sunshyne84*

        Yea I think having a good clear plan set with the rest of the family would be the best way to go. I think it’ll be fine and you both will get the support you need.

    10. Llellayena*

      I see no career related issues with this arrangement (my family had a tag team set-up when my grandma fell), but I have some advice on how to present it to the family. Put all of the following items in writing, basically a “family care contract.” Set a time limit, 6 months or a year or whatever you are willing to devote. Indicate IMMEDIATELY that other arrangements need to be made after that date, even if that is an assisted living facility (and continue to bring the subject up regularly). Set a compensation level and/or budget. You are performing a job (in addition to helping out family) and need to be compensated for your time, especially since you will not have another source of income. You can certainly set your rate lower than other home care services, but you need money for food and gas at a minimum. Set conditions that you will have days off where other family takes over so you can go out or away, caretaking is stressful, you don’t want to burn out! If you are planning to take classes (or attend networking sessions!) arrange that someone will take over while you are out. If you treat this like the job it is, add it to your resume, there’s a lot of skill-building you get from this. Good luck!

    11. Anono-me*

      I have done this. It was hard, but rewarding especially emotionally.
      My new great job started in 2 1/2 months so an older relative, Pat, scheduled a pretty major surgery and I left my low pay job a little early to help out.
      I had some advantages that I don’t think you have.
      Pat only had two other adult realatives, so it was pretty easy to get all 4 of us on the same page as to what I was doing and not doing.
      I had medical insurance.
      I had savings and a place where I could move to if things didn’t work.
      Pat was fully expected to make a 100% recovery.
      I had worked as a CNA previously.
      I had a FIRM end date.
      Here is what I suggest if you decide to do this.
      Once everything is figured out the the last detail, put everything in writing, make everyone sign it , and give everyone a copy.
      Figure out what you need to do inorder to do the career switch. Do some informational interviews and check out the college classes and schedules. Plan out exactly what you need to do for the next six months to a year. Not just you need to take three classes next semester, but you will be on campus from 11:00 to 2:30 MWF and from 8:30 to noon TR. You will not be available during those times, Not negotiatable.
      You need to have personal time and space. Spell those out. One weekend a month someone else stays with Gma, so you can cram for finals, go out on the town or go out of town, etc.. Even if it was Uncle Joe’s childhood bedroom, it is yours for the duration and everyone else must stay out. You also have x hours each day of personal time.
      Have a notebook or a password protected site that is available to all the involved adults. Have Gma’s calendar on it, summaries of any medical appointments, and other important data.
      Have someone else handle your Gma’s money and bills.
      See what your state and Medicare offer in the way of paying family members to be PCAs. Usually the PCA training class is only about 2 weeks.
      Have medical insurance.
      Have an end date and at least a short term plan B for if Gma still needs help after that. For example, “I am doing this until June 1st, then I am going to Springfield for an internship. Dana Smith from Teapot’s PCAs is scheduled to come out and help Gma For the first two weeks of June. We can decide then if we want to continue on with Dana or go in a new direction.”
      Best wishes to you and a good recovery to your grandmother

      1. Washi*

        A+ advice. This also reminded me: if you haven’t already, make sure your grandma’s will and advanced directives are in order, as well as designating a healthcare and financial power of attorney. These are not easy conversations to have, but it is MUCH harder to do it later.

    12. only acting normal*

      Proceed with caution. My grandmother had a fall which prompted her decline into Alzheimers: my mother cared for her for 20 years until mum was just under retirement age, effectively scuppering any chance she had of going back to work after raising us.

      Caring is work, hard work, especially emotionally when it’s family. Not everyone is cut out for it (really my mother wasn’t, but there was no-one else). Plus it can be very hard to also hold a job, or study, let alone break into a new field.

      By all means put yourself on the family rota of contributing to your grandma’s care (e.g. offer to do 1 or 2 days a week, or one week in 4, depending on how things are going to be arranged) but be wary of becoming the majority or entirety of the solution. Even with the best intentions your family might be all too relieved to consider ‘you=carer’ as the new status quo.

    13. Thlayli*

      A one-year break won’t set you back too much – lots of women take a year or more maternity leave / career break when they have kids. Combined with the fact that you are switching careers I think it’s a great idea. As you say it’s a great “excuse” for your resume for taking time away from your career and the timing is very serendipitous for you.

      Make sure you make clear with your family that this is not a permanent solution though!

    14. Wibbets*

      Fallen, quitting your job to be a caregiver would be a terrible career move. It would not get you any closer to a career in the industries you identified. If anything, it would just set you back. It would also probably be a bad life move for you in general. Here’s why:

      Reading this, I sort of get the sense that you think being an adult caretaker is almost a side-gig that you can do while you try to transition into a new industry. Believe all the people telling you that this can be exhausting work, both physically and emotionally. It will also take way more time out of your day than you may realize–cooking and cleaning after another person, driving them to and from appointments (and wherever else they need to go–grandma still needs to go to stores), and otherwise caring for their daily needs is AT LEAST a full-time job. If your grandma develops any medical needs beyond the ones she has already, your hours will become even longer. If you do your job, you will not have enough time to work part-time or intern, and it may be difficult or nigh-on-impossible to take classes and do well.

      As other people have pointed out, you’re also in danger of ending up as a full-time caretaker for the foreseeable future. Once you’re caring for grandma, your (probably perfectly well-meaning!) family may consider the problem solved and move on mentally. “Six months” turns into years, as wonderful family members with busy lives of their own continue to try to “sort things out.” When you try to quit, some contingents may become angry (“Do you want her to end up in a home?”) or resentful (“We had everything worked out!”). When you ask for help, the answer is generally “no,” because people have lives, and you’re handling everything, right?

      Third, you say you “know” your family would willing to pay you to take care of your grandma. If this is true, how much would they really be willing to pay? The average annual wage for a home health aide is $23,210–would your family be able or willing to offer something even close to that? If your family did, would you be able to live off of your salary and maintain your own place? (Do not move into grandma’s place to save money unless you want to provide 24-hour care.) What about health insurance, dental, etc.?

      Consider also that if your family is paying you to do something, then you really work for them, and layering the employment relationship on top of the family relationship can get hairy quickly. What if they don’t like the job you’re doing? What is some or all of them, for whatever reason, stop paying you? And if they’re paying you, they probably won’t get you any professional respite care or even help you with grandma themselves–you don’t get respite from your job, and they’re paying you to do this so they don’t have to.

      If you choose to take care of your grandma, do it because you want the full-time job of being a caretaker for an elderly person, with all that entails. Do not become a full-time caretaker because you love your grandma, want to help out your family, and would like some extra time to explore a new career. Especially do not do it if your primary objective is to switch jobs, because you’re not trying to get into the home health care industry. Going into this thing with any expectation besides “I will be a full-time caretaker, providing for 100% of my grandma’s needs, for little or no compensation” is a recipe for resentment.

      Tl;dr: NO

      1. Wibbets*

        Sorry for writing a book here (wish we could edit comments)…but seriously, this is not a good idea.

    15. Close Bracket*

      > Would ‘caring for an elderly family member’ be a good reason for leaving my job and allowing me to try a new path?

      Honestly, like breaking up w a romantic partner, any reason at all is a good reason. You need to take into account all the things that you would usually take into account when considering a career move. How will you gain new skills to support the move? How will you keep your current relevant skills fresh? How will you support yourself? I can see that you are thinking of those questions, but it sounds as though you are strategizing your career move around your grandmother’s care. Instead, strategize your grandmother’s care around your career move. Look for the classes or what ever you are going to take before you leave your job. Put that all into place first. As you put it into place, think about leaving time for doctors appointments, for example, make sure you have one day per week with no coursework or other scheduled commitment. Make it clear to your family that you will not cancel any classes to care for your grandmother and that you will be happy to schedule her appointments on those days that you have left for them. Think about how much support in terms of house cleaning, etc., you can give and have a strategy for filling the gaps. Say you plan to have coursework and internships on a part-time basis and can cook meals for your grandmother three days a week. What is the plan for the other days? Cook extra on your days? Have someone else cook when you are not available? You want to avoid care creep – that is, you need to make sure that caring for your grandmother does not completely take over your time and the derail your career move. Have a timeline for your career and an exit plan from the caregiving.
      Good luck!

    16. Oxford Coma*

      My SIL completed a rigorous 5-year STEM BS/MS combination program. She had offers to earn a PhD, but was mentally and physically broken down from the previous schooling. She agreed to basically what you’ve outlined here, when her mom’s degenerative illness took a downward turn.

      Mom hung on for years, and the second she dropped dead, Dad descended into Alzheimers. Two decades later, SIL is in her forties, with a blank resume and not a dime paid into social security.

      Do not do this. I get that you feel a bit adrift and uncertain about your career path, and this seems like a life raft to temporarily get your bearings. It isn’t. It’s quicksand.

    17. WillyNilly*

      I recommend, based on my own experiences, doing this. Absolutely. I did it, and benefited in so many ways!

      Do, definitely have a clear timeline (not “6 months” but “until November 18, 2018”). Do establish limits (“if grandma is unable to walk 100 feet” or “unable to stand up from a sitting position”) that will prompt a change in caretaking. Do get a confirmation about what your compensation will be, and how, when and from whom you will receive it. Do define your hours (internship time, your hobby/team/social life time, personal care time). And do have your out (if your family renegs you will call APS and engage a social worker to establish a care plan outside the family, etc).

      And enjoy and make the best of it!

  5. Scoop*

    I loved the salary negotiation AAM podcast episode a few weeks ago. Specifically the range of reasonable increase to ask for (80k to 84k for example).

    Does anyone have guidance for lower salary ranges? If the offer is 45k, I imagine asking for another 4k would be too much, so what’s a reasonable request? How about for 50k or 55k? 65k? Etc

    This is the more the range I’m likely to be offered and I don’t want to ask for something wild :)

    1. Logan*

      Percentages are a good way to think about it. $4k is 5% of $80k, so 5% of $45k is $2250. That precision might be a little weird, so maybe try $2500? It also depends upon what other hints / industry averages / other info that you have.

    2. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      Most salaries operate on percentages. Think of raises, they will be around 3-10% in my experience depending on your role. A 45k offer, as for 5% so if they cannot do that they have wiggle room to counter without feeling you’re totally off base.

      Also make sure you know the comps for comparable wages in your area and the job requirements. Remember there are caps because one day you’ll have a 100k receptionist.

    3. Specialk9*

      How far are you in your career, years wise? I found that I’m my early years I made these wild percentages, 10%-15%, but the actual amount was low. Now I make smaller %, but the dollar amt is higher.

  6. ANON..*

    Any HR professionals/employment lawyers want to weigh in on a debate a friend and I were having?

    I had said that, though state laws vary and I don’t know every state’s laws on this, under federal law, political beliefs are not a protected category and thus an employer could discriminate against someone because of it. My friend didn’t believe me that someone could be fired because of their political beliefs.

    Then that got us thinking. NYC law dictates that employers cannot discriminate against someone based on religion and creed.

    Creed is interesting… By definition, it’s generally “a set of beliefs that guide one’s actions,” but in an employment/discrimination sense, must it be tied to beliefs held due to one’s religion? Must it be an organized religion? If not tied to religion, where do you draw the line?

    On another note, it’s pretty clear you can’t discriminate against someone who is anti-abortion, because that’s clearly part of their religious beliefs. However, can you discriminate against someone who is pro-choice?

    Some minimal research revealed that most states use “creed” and “religion” synonymously, i.e. someone cannot claim they were discriminated against because they are vegan, since their veganism is not tied to any sort of religious beliefs. But I feel like the pro-choice/anti-abortion example is a bit more nuanced; is the former really not protected while the latter is, even though they’re opposing sides of the same issue?

    And (apologies if this is getting too political!) since conservative/Republican values are also often based on religious beliefs (like abortion) while liberal/Democratic values are not, it would seem that conservative employers have more of a right to legally discriminate against liberal employees/candidates than vice versa. Does that make logical sense, or am I missing something?

    As a sidenote, why would a state include both religion and creed if they’re meant to be used synonymously?

    Anyway, I’d love to hear what others’ take on this whole matter is – I’m endlessly fascinated by this and interested to learn more, discuss, hear opposing thoughts, etc!

    1. fposte*

      NY says, “Creed refers to a set of moral or ethical beliefs and the practices and observances associated with those beliefs. Although creed includes traditional religious beliefs, it also incorporates belief systems that may not be expressed by an organized religious group.”

      IANAL, but my feeling is that governments and courts really don’t want to get creed tied into political beliefs; it’s too big a can of worms and too big a departure from original intent. (“Creed” is rooted in historical usage where it’s a lot more than a synonym for “belief.”) And while it obviously doesn’t govern in the US, Ontario has hashed this out and said they’re not the same.

      1. ANON..*

        But by that definition, it sounds like something like veganism could be covered, right? It can totally be something one does because of their moral/ethical beliefs and that governs one’s practices. So why wouldn’t something like that be covered?

        I guess my question is: What would be an example of something that creed would cover that religion does not?

        1. fposte*

          IANAL, and I think what you really need is a historically inclined lawyer here. Think of something like “hostile work environment” or “wrongful termination” and how they do not legally mean what they would mean to the lay reader–you can’t assume that just because the term used could fit something else in popular understanding it means it would fit it in legal understanding. My religious understanding, however, is that you can have non-creedal faiths and also non-recognized religions that have a creed, and that’s what the differentiation is historically getting at; it’s also a protection based on who’s been persecuted and discriminated against.

          Now I think it’s worth asking, in an era where people are increasingly defining themselves by beliefs about what’s right and what isn’t that are separate from a belief in God, whether the law will eventually decide those beliefs are protected as well. But currently “creed” on its own doesn’t do that, because it doesn’t mean simply “belief.”

      2. Juli G.*

        This article is interesting-

        http://hrprofessionalsmagazine.com/creed-t-human-rights-act/

        In summary, the thought is that most likely, courts will view religion and creed as synonymous and things like veganism unassociated with a religion won’t be covered there. The article also recommends not firing people for those type of things because… you know, why?

        Pro choice thing is interesting. I tend to believe it would be dismissed because courts won’t want to weigh in but who knows?

      3. Millennial Lawyer*

        “In order to have a viable discrimination claim, plaintiff must be a member of a protected class . . . The complaint, at best, alleged not that plaintiff was being singled out for being Catholic, but that plaintiff was not rehired because of political differences with other Catholics. Thus, he was not subject to discrimination by reason of membership in a protected class . . . Even if a protected class could be alleged, that class would be based on ethical or sociopolitical views, rather than religious beliefs. Neither the New York State nor New York City Human Rights Law protects against such discrimination.”

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I kinda take issue with saying Republican values are based on religion whereas Democratic values are not. This is a very treacherous slope, so I will tread lightly. But I personally feel that the policies advocated by the current Republican party are at odds with the version of Christianity taught by Jesus in the New Testament.

      I know that most Republicans would probably disagree with me on that, though. I don’t wish to debate that particular point, but I only bring it up because I disagree with the premise.

      1. ANON..*

        Duly noted – I know it’s a sensitive subject, and should be treated delicately. I certainly did not mean to imply that all Republican values are based on religion, or that all religious Republicans were Republicans for religious reasons!

      2. Hellanon*

        I’ll go there! There’s a strong case to be made that the right’s actions on abortion have very little to do with religion & a whole lot more to do with deciding who gets to control women’s sexuality. Religion is a convenient mask to hide that behind, the same way it’s used to cover for homophobia and transphobia.

        1. ANON..*

          Not sure we should get into an actual politics discussion – I think that could get pretty heated pretty quickly. I’m trying to stay more focused on the actual employment laws surrounding this.

        2. Triple Anon*

          There are a lot of different ways people arrive at their beliefs. I have met liberal, non-religious people who were pro-life. In those cases, it was a being healthy and doing what’s natural sort of perspective, or concerns about minorities being disproportionately pressured into having abortions, pressure to abort fetuses that are viable yet considered abnormal from a social perspective, stuff like that. I’m sure there are many other possibilities.

      3. Specialk9*

        I made a long post below, that hopefully gets through moderation… The above assumptions have some Christo-centric assumptions that aren’t accurate for other religions.

        Jews are usually liberal/ Democrats, and ALSO our religion approves of abortion (except for trivial reasons) and is sex positive and leans toward birth control (“leans” in Jewish law interpretation, because the practice is so universal), and is supportive of LGBTQ folks (fascinatingly, our holy scriptures talk about transgender and postulate that Abraham and Sarah were genderqueer – see TransTorah website for more).

        Note that the above is primarily in regards to the bulk (90%) of the Jewish population, which is Reform, Conservative (which actually isn’t that socially conservative), nondenominational, or atheist/agonistic (which can but doesn’t necessarily mean non-practicing). Orthodox is very different, but they are a minority (10%) and half of their kids go to those other denominations as they age.

        1. Batshua*

          This makes me think maybe I should use “mainstream Judaism” to refer to MO, Traditional, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform, but not, like, *gestures vaguely* … frumkeit?

          1. Specialk9*

            Are Modern Orthodox or Reconstructionist mainstream? I feel like they aren’t. Same with Renewal and Humanists.

            Aaaaand we’re Jews splitting hairs. :)

            1. Ann O.*

              I would call Modern Orthodox mainstream, but not Reconstructionist/Renewal/Humanist. To me, it’s about recognizability of doctrine. At least based on what I know of them Reconstructionist/Renewal/Humanist have pretty significant departures in doctrine (although I went to a Reconstructionist synagogue growing up, and in practice, it was basically identical to the Conservative synagogue that I go to now)

              1. Batshua*

                I mean, honestly, Judaism is about like, what people DO, not what people BELIEVE, so barring some really fringey stuff…

                Then again, everyone defines fringey differently.

        2. Ann O.*

          I agree with a lot of this post, but the idea that Abraham and Sarah were genderqueer is not mainstream Judaism and I don’t want commenters reading here to be misled into thinking that it is. I wouldn’t describe Judaism as intrinsically LGBTQ+ friendly either, although I do agree that it had a solid base that led to the current Reform/Conservative/etc. LGBTQ+ friendly interpretations.

          1. Specialk9*

            You’re right that my second post was not as carefully phrased as my first, but confusingly the 2nd one was upthread of the 1st.

            You’re right that I was speaking of Reform Judaism about LGBTQ acceptance, since that’s my experience. Reform is the biggest slice of the Jewish pie in the US, at 35%. My understanding is that Conservative (18%) is getting there too, and my nondenominational friends seem pretty cool with LGBTQ stuff (though granted that may be bc that’s pretty much my friend group, so may be confirmation bias).

            Jews have been at the forefront of the fight for gay rights.

            I actually do feel like we get to claim this one. And I’m going to, because I’m really proud of it, and because so many people think that religion = intolerance, and they don’t know that’s not an absolute.

      4. JennyFair*

        Yeah…the more I read my Bible, the more liberal I get, so I’m with Trout on this one. Although conservatives like to tout religion as a motivation, I don’t think their views are any more motivated by their religious beliefs than anyone else’s. I could (and probably have) talk for hours on the contrast between what we are commanded to do and what the religious right is currently fighting for.

        1. Triple Anon*

          Yes! I read the Bible when I was a kid and it gave me an anarchist / socialist sort of viewpoint. The recurring message is one of equality, being humble, and being aware of how power tends to be abused and material wealth distances you from God (that whole camel and needle thing). Live a simple life and focus on helping other people.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “Above all else, love each other.” The longer I thought about this, the more and more stuff I just let go of. Things that I was taught in earlier years that seemed sooo important, really are not that important to me anymore.

        3. Wintermute*

          I think it is more accurate to say “they are more likely to state that religious beliefs are the source of their political opinions”. While one can certainly argue that the New Testament has a lot of very liberal thinking, and that Supply Side Jesus and the real one have very little in common, if you asked 100 self-identified liberals and 100 self-identified conservatives the biggest source of their political opinions, vastly more conservatives would STATE religion as the reason and few if any liberals.

    3. Emi.*

      I’ve talked both to people who say their pro-choice stance is motivated by their religion and to people whose pro-life stance is very clearly not motivated by their religion, because they don’t have one (and they tend to get very frustrated by that stereotype!). But it might still count as a “creed,” especially since among the people I’m closest with it’s part of an integrated practice of nonviolence.

      1. Jadelyn*

        The Satanic Temple has actually been using religious protection laws to their advantage in fighting against anti-abortion statutes – claiming that, for example, forcing people seeking abortions to listen to a spiel that amounts to someone’s religious beliefs (life begins at conception, etc.) is a violation of their right to exercise their own religious beliefs, which define a nonviable fetus as part of the mother rather than a separate life. They actually won a case in Missouri on those grounds recently, if I recall correctly.

        1. Specialk9*

          My assumption about Satanists who are fighting the good fight is that they don’t actually worship Satan, but are using a religious loophole to inject sanity into overly Christian-enforcing laws, and are being provocative. I admit I don’t know any Satanists though, so would love to hear from someone who does know 1st or 2nd hand!

          1. Ellery*

            It’s worth noting that Satanists and The Satanic Temple are different beings. The Satanic Temple is non-theistic.

          2. Moonbeam Malone*

            I don’t know much about Satanism but I do know despite commonly being mistaken for Satan Worship those are two different things. I think it’s more to do with rejecting the authority of God and religion (and maybe pushing back against authority in general) in a way similar to Satan rejecting the authority of God? Like, they don’t worship Satan but there’s some sense of shared philosophy there.

          3. Jadelyn*

            It depends on the individual. There is theistic Satanism, and non-theistic Satanism. The Satanic Temple, which is the organization doing this activist work with religious status to back them up, is the non-theistic kind.

            I’m actually a member of TST, more as a political statement than anything else – but I am also a semi-theistic Luciferian, which are sort of cousins to Satanists. The various sects and belief-sets that group around the names/concepts of Lucifer and/or Satan are…kind of a weird tangled bunch. Many are not actually related to each other, but just happen to have washed up against the same spot on the theistic beach, so to speak.

            For myself, though I’m not a Satanist, it’s one of those things where an action can be both religious and secular – as with many religions, my personal beliefs dictate that I should try to actively work toward bringing the world toward a better state of openness, freedom, and knowledge – so while TST is nontheistic and using their status as a religion for political purposes, my support for them is both political and in line with my own religious convictions.

            Hope that made some kind of sense.

            1. Specialk9*

              That’s very helpful. Thanks for explaining! That was my general belief – belief system around Satan seem to be pretty nice and unobjectionable, unlike the human blood sacrifices I grew up being taught about.

          1. Jadelyn*

            !! I haven’t played in a long time, but I loved my mesmer, so I keep the icon. :)

    4. Enough*

      I think the creed issue is that it covers those that do not belong to a particular religion like Roman Catholic or Methodist or Judaism but still believe in the bible or a higher being. So it would cover Muslims, Buddhists, and non-denominational Christians.

      1. Headachey*

        Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity are major religions – how are these different to you than Judaism or specific types of Christianity? Just curious about your thought here, Enough.

        1. Specialk9*

          Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. (Though in practice, it does seem to hold similar space.) I don’t understand the assertion about Islam and other Christians though.

          I had assumed creed referenced things like Masons — which lots of the Founding Fathers were.

          1. Natalie*

            I don’t know if I’d state that so declaratively. The only are this seems to be debated is the west, since it doesn’t map neatly onto the two models of religion we’re familiar with. It’s absolutely considered a religion in India, where it originated, and Asia in general.

            It would also certainly be classed as a religion for the purposes of civil rights law.

    5. A.*

      I know several people who were fired for supporting the previous administration when a new elected official joined the office. Some people simply had posted things on their Facebook in support and that was enough to get them the boot. One person sued for discrimination but the lawsuit was dismissed.

      1. ANON..*

        Fascinating! Do you know what sort of discrimination the person who was suing was claiming? Do you mind my asking what state this happened in? I’m also intrigued by how different states handle it.

        1. A.*

          The terminated employee filed a lawsuit based on a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech and association. The Court dismissed the case on the basis that the elected official was exempt from First Amendment political protections.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is weird. So elected officials are not protected under the First Amendment?

            1. AH*

              As a federal employee who works overseas, we are restricted in what we can post on social media because we are considered to be “on the clock” all the time.

          2. Canarian*

            I thought it was the other way around? Whenever the First Amendment comes up and people get fired, isn’t the whole discussion about how the First Amendment applies to the government (presumably including an office of an elected official) but not private business?

    6. HR Profess (pls don't automatically think ill of me)*

      Political beliefs are not a protected class.

    7. HeightsHeifer*

      While I cannot speak for NY law, political beliefs are not considered a classification for basis of discrimination.

    8. Specialk9*

      Heads up, that you might be thinking mostly of Christianity in this, and there are other religions with very different teachings so don’t assume too much.

      Jews hold strong opinions to the opposite (pro-choice, pro-birth control), based on our holy texts, religious law, cultural trends, and rabbinic decision/voting.

      83% of all Jews of any denomination are pro-choice, and the biggest group (Reform) explicitly oks abortion for any non-trivial reason (rape, incest, physical or mental fetal damage etc).

      We Reform also officially ok’ed gay clergy and made temples safe spaces for transgender and LGBQ folks (there are stickers on the doors). Reform temples, in my experience, have way more gay clergy than the general population, and my observation was that the transitioning transgender guy I knew who was converting was treated with care and respect.

      (Fyi, Reform has a rabbinic voting process for big issues, and then for other topics the individual rabbis make their own calls, like whether to marry a Jew & non-Jew — most do, but with some counseling and conditions — or conduct a gay marriage — though that’s usually a pretty automatic greenlight these days.)

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh, and Jews are hugely more likely to be Democrats. So we actually ARE in alignment with our religion when we’re being liberal.

        (In reference to your statement “conservative/Republican values are also often based on religious beliefs (like abortion) while liberal/Democratic values are not”)

      2. ANON..*

        Right, so the question becomes could someone claim discrimination based on their (Jewish) religion if they were fired/not hired because they are pro-choice.

        (Note, this is not asking if they were fired for *having* an abortion – that’s already protected!)

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        And not all sects of Christianity share those beliefs either. I know the Episcopalian church allows LGBT ministers and will hold LGBT weddings.

        1. Natalie*

          There’s also a long tradition of progressive Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. Despite the loudness of non-denom fundamentalists, they don’t have a monopoly on Christianity anymore than liberation theology socialists do.

    9. Jadelyn*

      I’m fairly sure that “creed” is intended to cover religious beliefs not tied to a recognized organized religion, rather than the literal dictionary definition of “personal beliefs”. For example, eclectic/non-path Pagans may have strong religious beliefs, but if they’re a solitary practitioner and are not members of a coven or temple or other faith organization, their faith would be considered their creed rather than their religion. A statute that only protects religion might not protect that individual, but a statute that includes religion and creed would.

      1. Natalie*

        That wouldn’t be necessary, though, as there’s no requirement that religious beliefs be through as organized group or hierarchy to be protected.

        1. fposte*

          I think whether it’s necessary now, following a variety of high court decisions, is a different question from whether it was considered necessary when the term first made it into legislation. I don’t know when NY drafted its language, but “creed” is so historically established in human rights language that I suspect it’s harder work to get it out than to put it in.

          1. Natalie*

            True, but I rather doubt that it was intended to protect, say, eclectic pagans at the time it was written either. You’re probably right that’s it just a common phraseology and wasn’t necessarily parsed this deeply.

            It is kind of interesting how that can work later, though, in a similar vein to the EEOC starting to backdoor GLBT protections into the law by reinterpreting them as a form of sex discrimination.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I’d be interested in knowing more of the history on this; I suspect it might end up in theological weeds as much as legal. But it makes me think of all the weird fields exempted from the FLSA, and how people ask “What was the thinking behind excluding that field?” And I suspect mostly the thinking was “They had a really strong lobby and we wanted to get this bill through so we choked it down.”

    10. Not a Mere Device*

      I saw something recently about a man who is suing on the grounds that California law (the Unruh act) means that he can’t be excluded from an event because of his political positions. But even if he wins on that basis, California Is Different.

      I am not a llama, nor a Californian.

    11. Anon for now*

      At a time when I worked at a company where all the execs were Scientologists and their management philosophy was based on the works of L. Rob Hubbard, there was a potential law on the ballot for an election that would have enacted a tax to pay for mental health services. Scientologists are deeply opposed to the practice of psychiatry. The company put a “No on [Potential Law]” in front of the building.

      Even though I strongly supported the yes position, I would not have dared to put a “Yes on [Law]” sticker on my car that I drove to work. My support of the law was not based in religion. If it had been though and if they’d disciplined or fired me, I wonder if I would have had a legal complaint against them? Otherwise though, no leg to stand on?

      I agree that it seems weird that one type of adverse action is totes okay under the law, but the other would not be for engaging in the same behavior, just for different reasons.

    12. Justme, The OG*

      They do not have to be tied to religion, as long as they are “reasonably held.” I remember a case from my employment law class that was related to discrimination based on veganism unrelated to religion.

    13. Thlayli*

      One point – there are plenty of pro life atheists and plenty of pro-choice religious people. Whether someone is pro-life or pro-choice (or more commonly what types of restrictions they think should be placed on abortion) is about a lot more than just religion. Also, some religions support abortion – for example I believe Judaism teaches that a soul enters the body at birth. While many atheists think that science supports the theory that foetuses are human beings and so oppose abortion. It’s really not at all as simple as “pro life = religious, pro-choice = not religious”.

      Not being American I don’t know how that feeds into your equality legislation but I suspect that you would have to prove that your religion matches your political beliefs to claim discrimination. Eg it would be legal to fire a prochoice Catholic or a pro life Jew for their political beliefs because they could not claim that those beliefs were related to their “creed”.

      1. ANON..*

        Of course there are plenty of people who simultaneously hold different political beliefs/religious beliefs/etc.

        What I think is the tension point for me is what you highlighted in your last paragraph: That it’s totally cool to fire a pro-choice Catholic and an anti-abortion Jew….but not a pro-choice Jew and anti-abortion Catholic. If that’s true, that’s just wild to me!

        1. Thlayli*

          Well like I said I don’t live in America so I don’t know what the laws are, but as I understand it you can fire someone in America for any reason at all, except for very specific reasons that are outlined in law.

          It may not be the case in New York, but I believe it is the case in other states that you CAN be fired for political beliefs, not religious ones. So anyone can be fired for being pro life, or for being pro choice, EXCEPT for people who can prove that their religion teaches them to be pro life or pro choice.

    14. Millennial Lawyer*

      *Disclaimer that this is not legal advice, rather what I found in case law out of interest on the matter – it by no means is the full explanation of the law on this topic*

      New York City’s Human Rights Law is extremely more liberal than federal and even the NY state discrimination laws. But even under NYCHRL, no, political or social views are not covered, *even* if it relates to the complainant’s religion.

      “In order to have a viable discrimination claim, plaintiff must be a member of a protected class . . . The complaint, at best, alleged not that plaintiff was being singled out for being Catholic, but that plaintiff was not rehired because of political differences with other Catholics. Thus, he was not subject to discrimination by reason of membership in a protected class . . . Even if a protected class could be alleged, that class would be based on ethical or sociopolitical views, rather than religious beliefs. Neither the New York State nor New York City Human Rights Law protects against such discrimination.”
      Keady v. Nike, Inc., Sept. 29, 2000 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y.). See my name link for the full decision (also note that this decision was partially vacated on unrelated grounds – the context I’m using it for still makes sense)

      Also keep in mind that NY labor law prevents discrimination against “political activities” but that specifically means running for public office, campaigning for a candidate for public office, or participating in fund-raising activities for the benefit of a candidate, political party or political advocacy group, during an employee’s recreational time.

    15. Indoor Cat*

      Ooh, that’s interesting. So, someone vegetarian or pacifist for religious reasons (maybe they’re Jain, Quaker, or certain denominations of Buddhist or Taoist) could be protected from being fired even if, for whatever reason, their pacifism or vegetarianism causes some conflict with other employees, and they may have grounds for a hostile work environment suit if they’re harassed and harangued over these beliefs. But, a secular humanist with identical beliefs in the exact same situation would not be protected?

      1. Mad Baggins*

        +1 I don’t usually argue that atheism/being nonreligious is a “type” of religion, but this is one of those areas where having the religious reason would be helpful as a legal backing.

  7. Lcsa99*

    Does anyone know anything about Google business listings? Our company sells teapots wholesale, only to retailers and manufacturers, but when anyone Googles “teapot shops” or something similar in our area, our office will pop up.

    I managed to change the listing so it no longer says “teapot store” under our company name on the listing; it now says “teapot manufacturer” but apparently it isn’t good enough and we end up getting a lot of people dropping by hoping to browse a shop. I can’t even figure out how to change our listing to show we are only open by appointment only. It will either let me put specific times or say we are closed. Any suggestions?

    1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      Oh you’ll never ever have them stop coming or calling. I’ve been in wholesale manufacturing for 15 years in three different items. It’s not Google leading them in. They just don’t ever take “wholesale only” as an answer.

      “I have 12 of your teapots I’m a collector! I buy them direct all the time!” yeeeeeah no…direct through your local retailer. *stabbing motions*

      1. Lcsa99*

        That’s kinda what I figured, but was hoping to at least have something to point to when sending them away. Thanks, anyway

        1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

          Can you put up a sign or note on your door to thwart people wandering in? That’s helped some times.

          Google is a brat, it took so long to get them to correct a bad address for my old employer. It would send people to the middle of nowhere. So many angry confused truckers

    2. Melissa*

      There is an option where it won’t show your address on a map and you can select a service area instead. It supposed to be for people who provide services outside of a physical address, or say you work from home and don’t want that address listed. That might work for you, although that might not make sense since there probably are people who do need to find your physical address.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Yeah, we purchase the licenses for a lot of our designs from outside designers so we have people visiting all the time. Same reason I can’t just not list hours. Thanks

    3. JKP*

      Can you upload pictures of your business to your listing that clearly show it’s not a store? If it clearly looks like a manufacturer instead of a retail shop, maybe that visual clue will help.

    4. Lindsay J*

      No idea, but it seems to be a common problem.

      There’s a Canon printer sales office in my area that Google has helpfully labeled as a Camera Store. I imagine they get a bunch of people showing up there.

      Same thing with a FedEx hub with no actual consumer shipping capabilities.

    5. Church Lady*

      It took me two years of sporadic calls tomBoogle to get them to change us from a Presbyterian church to “Our Denomination.”
      Best wishes.

  8. RZ*

    I’m getting married soon, and there’s a bit of an issue with my husband’s work. I am fairly successful in my chosen career, my husband to be is very high up in a major national firm. The firm is run by a husband and wife, who are both quite domineering. They have made it clear that I am expected to give up my career, and accompany my husband on various work trips in future.
    Is there any way I can push back on this? It doesn’t seem fair that I have to just be seen as my husband’s partner in the future. I’m a bit wary of how to proceed, apparently a previous wife of another of the high-ups in this firm met a sticky end after she crossed them.

    1. Red Reader*

      This seems like the perfect place for “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” And your husband to start job hunting. :-P

      1. A Person*

        It’s been a long time since anyone quit a royal family, though. Might need special scripts for that.

        1. Lizzy*

          True, but the last time someone married an American divorcee was the last time someone quit!

          1. Jules the Third*

            And it’s not like he’s in line to head the company anymore, not with three kids ahead of him.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Do you work for your husband’s firm? If not, I’m confused about why they would think they have any control over your life, and why they would insist on a person they don’t employ going on business trips.

      1. Fa la la*

        ^^this! You don’t work for them; what grounds can they possibly believe they have to ask this. Wow.

      2. Thlayli*

        Well technically once Meghan marries Harry she will become part of the royal family, so in this analogy she actually IS joining the firm.

    3. anna green*

      That’s crazy! Why would you need to go on these trips? You can try to show how your presence is not helpful/required, and gently push back on why they want you to do this. But I’m not confident that they will respond reasonably since this is a crazy request to begin with.

      1. nep*

        I don’t even think you’re obliged to spend any time or energy trying to show how your presence is not required. Second the response suggested above–something along the lines of: ‘That won’t be possible.’ Period. (If, as I understand it, this is your husband’s employer and not yours.) This is jaw-droppingly ridiculous. How / in what context did the employer say this?

        1. nep*

          Whoa–wait. I was focused on the travel bit for a second there. That aspect is nothing compared to the other part of their mandate: That you’ll be expected Give.Up.Your.Career.
          Beyond ridiculous. Can’t even fathom.

    4. TGIF*

      What a bizarre request! Why do they care that his wife be seen at work trips? What if he was single, would they make him bring a girlfriend along?

      I would definitely say no to this request and make sure your husband backs you on that.

    5. soupmonger*

      Good grief. What decade are they living in? Is there any way you can basically duck the question- vaguely agree to accompany depending on your schedule, and then just have schedule clashes whenever a husband work trip actually comes up? If you avoid actively crossing this pair, then perhaps you can work around this (literally)?

    6. anyone out there but me*

      Why should your husband’s employer have any say at all over what YOU do with YOUR career? They don’t get a vote, if you ask me. This is between you and your husband. Does he want you to give up your job and follow him on trips?

      1. LKW*

        If they want to control your career then they can pay you to give up your career to travel with him. I say that sounds like it’s worth at least $250K per year. Anything less is insulting.

    7. rosie*

      Wait, so you don’t work at the same company as your husband and they’re still trying to dictate this stuff? What garbage.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I agree RE: garbage, but I’m not all that surprised.

        Look at politicians, and how frequently it’s expected, especially during campaigning, that a wife will dedicate herself to supporting her husband’s career, and how it will be commented on if she doesn’t. I imagine that once you’re really, really high up in the business world, it probably isn’t that different. Yuck.

          1. Lizzy*

            eeeehhhhh that’s pushing it. I mean, it’s sorta like a political company but they’re supposed to be above politics.

    8. Camellia*

      “met a sticky end”? This sounds like they killed her. Since I’m (reasonably) sure that’s not the case, can you please elaborate? I can’t imagine what they DID do to her, unless she also worked there and they fired her or something.

          1. Lizzy*

            OMG I feel ridiculous. DUH. And I’m totally planning on getting up at 4:30 tomorrow morning…

        1. Tedious Cat*

          I love everything about this.

          Seriously, I think acting is probably one of the best backgrounds for someone marrying into The Firm… that ability will come in handy when you attend approximately one million ribbon cuttings. (It worked out beautifully for Monaco, though I’m not sure it went so well for Grace…)

      1. Camellia*

        Duh. Got me. I think it speaks to some of the crazy stories we hear that so many of us thought this was totally plausible.

      2. AnonForThis*

        It is a fairly widespread conspiracy theory that the royal family arranged for Diana’s car crash because of her relationship with Dodi al Fayed.

    9. Camellia*

      Also, if they were hiring YOU, would they expect your husband to quit his job and devote himself to YOUR career?

        1. Southernbelle*

          No, hiring involves an exchange of money for services. She, herself, is not being offered money for this. She is being dragooned, not hired.

          1. Thlayli*

            She will be getting an allowance from the queen though won’t she? All the royals get specific amounts of money paid out of the queens pocket.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Lot of folks biting right down on it, though. :-) You and I can sit over here and drink tea and eat lemon elderflower cake and watch everyone else’s head explode.

      1. KatTheRussian (France)*

        Oh my god, Snubble you are so smart and this is such a royally great question all around!

      2. Rookie Manager*

        Well played. Very well played.

        My feminism triggered high blood pressure can calm down.

        1. Ciara Amberlie*

          “My feminism triggered high blood pressure can calm down.”

          Should it though? Because this is actually happening. Just because it’s royalty doesn’t mean it’s any less egregious.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Let’s pretend it’s a real question about a real person contemplating marrying someone where the marriage will entail giving up an existing career and becoming the spouse’s companion for the rest of basically forever. Whatever you think about the management of this firm, it’s not likely to change. So what would Alison say? You have to decide if you still want the job – in this case, the marriage – given those terms. (Like I said downthread: It’s not like any of this was sprung on anybody in a surprising manner. One knows what one is getting into and has the opportunity to decide not to, unlike those who are unfortunate enough to be born to it like the big boss in this scenario.)

            A grown woman making a choice she’s free to make isn’t especially egregious at all.

          2. Anon Today*

            I think it’s different though. When you marry a working royal (versus the ones that the taxpayers support, but who do nothing), you know that is part of the marriage. It’s never a secret, and it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. Prince Phillip didn’t get to keep his day job after Elizabeth became Queen.

            To me that is different because it’s public knowledge. No one enters a relationship with a working royal with a different impression.

            1. Lizzy*

              Agreed. Especially after the Diana debacle. I’m sure Harry (and family) made it well-known the expectations. To be honest, I think her background as an actress helps, rather than hinders. She’ll be able to use her (already polished) public image to bring light to causes important to her. She’s already shown her desire to do this – she did it before she was with Harry.
              She’s making a choice. Feminism, at it’s core, is all about the ability to choose. Just because she’s choosing something that many of us would not choose doesn’t make her any less of a feminist.

              Side example: I’m pretty religious, and very conservative. A couple of years ago I made the choice to no longer wear pants. I haven’t worn a skirt above the knee for over a year. I don’t wear anything that shows cleavage, and I didn’t brush my hair today because I wear it up every day, so there literally wasn’t a reason to brush it. I would never get an abortion, I do think that women naturally gravitate towards homemaking roles, I consider my husband to be the head of the household in name and actions. HOWEVER – this is MY CHOICE. I discuss every one of my decisions with my husband, but my decisions are supported fully by him. I went to a women’s college, which is basically the epitome of modern feminism. I support ALL women’s right to choose, regardless of if that’s who they marry, how they dress, their politics, their career… Obviously there are consequences to your choice, but at the end of the day, it’s YOUR CHOICE and it’s not egregious for a woman to choose anything, IMO.

              1. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms*

                Hey there fellow religious conservative woman in the AAM comments! Just wanted to wave at you and let you know there are…*some* of us!

              2. Polished my foot*

                I thought Meghan Markle was polished until I saw her in person. I was there at the memorial service for Stephen Lawrence. For those unfamiliar with the story, he was a young black British man who was murdered due to racial violence 25 years ago. Prince Harry and Meghan attended.

                Meghan’s hair was messy and she looked like she rolled out of bed. She wore a sleeveless dress with a plunging v-neck that was was even lower than it looked in the photos. She had bare legs. It was not an appropiate outfit for a church service, or for a future member of the royal family.

                In addition, she and Haryy constantly held hands and had PDA, she smiled and titered throughout the entire event, was constantly looking for the cameras and flashing her ring.

                I’m British and I am a fan of the royals. I am biracial like Meghan, my father is white and my mother is black. I’m a huge fan of the show Suits. I was so excited when they got engaged.

                Her actions that day were appalling. Yes there is a learning curve to becoming a royal, but how to dress and conduct yourself at a church service that is a memorial for a murder victim should be common sense. I cannot believe someone acted so childish and gross. Harry is just as bad for participating.

                She is not polished or poised. She has no idea how to act appropriately. If my fiance ever acted like her I would have run away in embarrassment. After seeing how she acted I think Harry is making a huge mistake, though given that he was just as bad, I am not surprised he thinks her behavior that day was fine.

                1. Marcela*

                  Wow. That’s a whole lot of judging going on from one single event. If my fiancé(e) ever judged someone so harshly I’d run away in embarrassment too. I’m so fascinated by your definition of “plunging” and the need for stockings when it’s 2018 and her dress went down to her shins.

                2. Polished my foot*

                  Had the engagement not been a memorial for a murder victim at a church her clothing would have been fine and more than appropriate. In photos you could not see it, but in person her bra was visible because the dress was so low. Stocking are needed when it’s a future royal going to church. This is clearly protocol. Again, had it not been in church they would not have been needed.

                  Further, even if she had been wearing a different outfit, similar to Prime Minister May or other women present, the fact is that she was laughing when people were describing the pain of his murder. You do not do that and royal or not, everyone should know better.

                  There are photos of her tittering, grinning and laughing. At one point she was nearly sitting on Harry’s lap. They held hands and swung their arms like a couple of teenagers.

                  They both behaved badly even if her dress is taken out of the equation. Laughing during a service for a murder victim when people are sharing their pain is disgusting. She should have known better and acted better, and Harry should have behaved better also.

          3. Rookie Manager*

            If a Mr Merkle was marrying Princess Henrietta, 5th in line to the throne then it would be the same conditions. Prince Phil left his Naval career when he married the Queen. Yes it’s a crazy situation but it’s not as sexist as first appears.

            1. Popcorn Lover*

              The Crown deals with this in season 1. Phillip actually comes across as a petulant child about it, and there is a lot of energy devoted to giving him “something to do.” Same in Victoria, with Prince Albert’s dilettantish interest in SCIENCE and WELFARE

          4. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s a situation where the tax-payers pay you a salary to provide entertainment for them. So I really don’t have the problem I would in other circumstances.

            Relatedly, I have absolutely no patience with animated princess movies where she gets to live in a tax-payer funded mansion and enjoy a life of comfort and indulgence, until–oh noes!–she is expected to marry to secure an important political alliance to protect those tax payers, rather than just to do about what would make her happy. I am looking at you, Mulan 2, where the people who have kept you in luxury all your life being massacred by an invading army is but a small price to pay for the freedom to marry a dude you just met who makes you laugh.

        2. Specialk9*

          I mean, she’s being VERY well compensated to quit her current job and become an ambassador. It wouldn’t be worth it for me, but it is an actual job.

      3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        This made me laugh very hard – I’m extremely local to the national firm HQ in question and it took me a minute to twig…

    10. Tell me more...*

      “…apparently a previous wife of another of the high-ups in this firm met a sticky end after she crossed them.”

      You should probably elaborate. Inquiring minds, and all..

      1. Nita*

        I’m thinking of John Grisham’s “The Firm” here… in which case husband and wife should both run for the exit. Very, very carefully.

      2. Not a Mere Device*

        It involved a car crash, and lots of people wondering whether it was really an accident.

    11. Aunt Vixen*

      On the one hand, I agree with the comment thread that the expectations of people you don’t work for are irrelevant in most careers.

      On the other hand, I see what you did there, Tig. Er, RZ. “The firm” indeed. Nicely played. :-)

      Marrying into the royal family is different than marrying into any other family or firm in the world. It just is. Dude’s job is not his job – it’s his life. It’s not really a question of “the firm” having unreasonable expectations of the in-laws; she could certainly have decided not to pursue the relationship or not to accept the proposal. The expectations didn’t come along after everything else had been decided, after all.

    12. Boredatwork*

      you’re dealing with crazy here –

      You need to have a very serious and very honest conversation with Hubby-to-be. The fact that these people have caused someone’s divorce means you need to discuss this now. Make sure you’re both in the same page about his career and your career. I have a feeling “that won’t be possible” will have some serious negative ramifications for your fiance.

    13. The Original K.*

      If you don’t work for them, I don’t see how what you do is any of their business. I would just keep working where you work and if they reach out to you, tell them some version of “I’m good, thanks.” If they continue to reach out to you, I’d block them. You aren’t beholden to them.

      And are they murdering people who don’t do what they say?!

    14. Temperance*

      Um, yes. That’s gross and weird. Your HUSBAND needs to be the one stepping up here, and letting his bosses know that it’s a ridiculous request.

    15. MuseumChick*

      Fantasy reply: “HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, no.”

      Actual replay: “That won’t be possible.” “Husband and I already discussed this, thanks. *subject change*” With an oblivious voice: “Oh no, I would never give up my career. *Subject change*”

      This is also a good time to “bean dip” a person.

      Them: “You will have to give up your career.”
      You: “Hey this is some good bean dip, have your tried it?”
      Them: “You will have to accompany him and *list of business trips*
      You: “Seriously, who made this bean dip, it’s really good.”
      Them: “I don’t want to talk about bean dip! I want to talk about how to run your personal life!”
      You: “Ok, I’m going to go find whoever made this bean dip. I need to recipe.”

    16. animaniactoo*

      How does your husband feel about it? Is he willing to back you on not giving up your career?

      If so, it’s really up to him “I value the work RZ does, and prefer that she continues to do that. I will be fine without 24/7 availability from her. If her schedule allows her to accompany me on some trips, I’ll let you know.”

      1. Lizzy*

        They’ll schedule the trips around her schedule. I mean… her schedule will be re-worked by the Powers That Be to allow her to accompany him. I mean…

        It’s fine. They’ll be fine.

        As to how he feels, he’s stated that he doesn’t like a lot of the requirements of the job, but he’s thankful for the platform it has provided for him to advocate for causes close to him.

    17. Phoenix Programmer*

      Honestly I think taking up a lot of space on the open work thread to post a question from a skewed perspective of the future duchess of “royal wedding 2.0” is lame.

      1. Lizzy*

        I think it’s hilarious, and by far the best post of the day. If you don’t like it, please feel free to collapse the replies and move on.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        There are many trailing spouses who forgo a career for their person. I am also thinking of minister’s spouses, now there is a 24/7 job. And, yeah the spouse does as much work as the minister. There are other ways that jobs leach over into home life and cause permanent changes. How about people exposed to radiation or heavy chemicals. Part of planning a wedding is planning a marriage. We have to look at our person and ask ourselves if we want their setting in our lives. The job and the spouse are a package deal in some instances.

    18. Penny Lane*

      I don’t understand how they could make you “meet a sticky end.” How do they have any influence whatsoever in your household’s decisions?

      Is this the US? Because I can’t think of any “major national firm” in the US where this kind of thinking exists.

        1. Canarian*

          I’m chuckling quietly to myself about the idea of imperialism/colonialism being rebranded by neo-capitalism as “establishing lavish branch offices”

    19. Penny Lane*

      Oh geez! I get it! Well done.

      I think Meghan Markle is still going to wind up doing whatever the hell she wants to do. She isn’t Diana, who was just a kindergarten teacher, or Kate, whose career I never heard about. She went to an elite university and had a real career. She’ll be fine!

      1. MuseumChick*

        Ok, can we not refer to anyone’s career as “just”? It’s really demeaning and disrespectful. And, Diana did a huge amount of charity work, one of the reasons so many loved her.

        Kate attended several exclusive private schools and comes from a very working class background (her grandparents were coal miners).

        1. A.*

          Right! I mean people who went to elite universities had to go to kindergarten at some point…

        2. Anon Today*

          Kate attended St. Andrews, which is a pretty elite university in it’s own right.

          Meghan will have more freedom than Kate or Diana, simply because she will never become Queen.

          1. Penny Lane*

            I don’t recall hearing about any career Kate had, but it’s possible that I missed it. My comment about Diana was not to disparage her, but to note that she wasn’t a high powered serious career woman the way Meghan Markle is.

            1. Specialk9*

              Kate worked in an investment bank? I think? (I try not to spy on their lives bc I pity the royals, but somehow I learn stuff)

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                Didn’t she do something in the fashion world at some point? I thought I remembered the internet blowing up because of some dress scandal thing some time back around their engagement.

                1. Canarian*

                  According to Wikipedia, she was a part time accessories buyer for a clothing chain, and then worked for her family’s party planning business, which I think Pippa did too. But then again, she had a pretty good idea by the time she would have been starting a career that she was destined to quit any career for the Firm eventually.

                2. MuseumChick*

                  @Canarian, I think I remember reading something about how when it became clear she was going to be in along term relationship with William that selecting a career became a challenge. It needed to be a positions that wouldn’t embarrass the royal family, she would be expect to drop things suddenly for royal events, and security concerns for her personal safety. So finding a job that fit the bill was a challenge.

                  Part time accessories buyer seems like the perfect fit! Lol.

        3. MuseumChick*

          I am a bit sensitive to the word “just” as it is often used in this kind of context “Oh she is just a stay at home mom.” My mom was a stay at home mom for years. She also have *5* college degrees, her own money to do whatever she wanted with, and it was laughable to think anyone could tell her what to do. She eventually went back to work once the youngest went off to college.

          My sister worked for years until she decided she wanted to be a stay at home mom. She only has 3 college degrees but I’m sure once her kids are grown she will catch up to mom, lol.

            1. MuseumChick*

              She earned most of them way before the cost of college got so out of control. The last one she got was after the youngest was off at college and between her and my dad they were able to pay for it without taking out loans.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Diana paved the way so Meghen CAN do what she wants. It wasn’t just Buckingham Palace that learned something here in the Diana story. I think the world changed it’s expectations of the Royals.

        1. many bells down*

          And QEII grew up in the shadow of a disastrous Royal marriage. She wouldn’t even have been Queen if her uncle hadn’t chucked it all for his American divorcee. I feel like between that, her sister’s troubled marriage, and her childrens’ divorces she really saw the need to change how they go about the whole mess.
          She’s trying to do better by her grandkids, at least.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed, she has touched the hearts of her people in ways that her predecessors never did.

    20. Really?*

      I have no idea how your husband’s firm would have any decison making role in what you do with your life. This isn’t the 1950’s women don’t have to leave their job once they get married. You don’t need to push back this isn’t even in the realm of anything to do with them. In fact they shouldn’t even been talking to you about it, I assume they’re talking to your fiance. I really don’t know what he can say, this is so far across the line that I don’t know how you deal with it but whatever he or you do say make they’restatements and look like/give across tone as if you thing they’re unhinged. Don’t give any flexibility (unless for instance you can occasionally attend) I mean he/you could say – Of course RZ will continue in her current role, she may attend some meetings with me if she has availability. And then do the ‘broken-record’ customer service thing where you don’t give any ground and repeat what you had said.

      1. Lizzy*

        She actually really can’t. They lived across the ocean from each other. Both of their jobs required them to be “on set”, so to speak, so one of them had to move. He couldn’t sell his house or anything, so she had to move there, and since her job wasn’t there, she had to quit.

      1. Lizzy*

        well… depends on which tabloids you read, and how much you like conspiracy theories.

          1. Lizzy*

            RZ = Rachel Zane, who is the character Meghan Markle played on “Suits”. Meghan is marrying Prince Harry tomorrow, of the British royal family. She had to quit her job because you can’t really have a job as a senior royal. The “owners” of the firm are the Queen and her husband Prince Phillip. The one who met the sticky end was Diana.

      2. only acting normal*

        No. Some people wanted something other than “horrible accident” to blame – which is a very normal human response, but the conspiracy theories got a bit out of hand.

        1. Thlayli*

          Given Diana chose to get into a car with a drunk driver and not wear a seatbelt, I don’t really get the whole conspiracy theory thing. Do they think the royals did mind control on her to prevent her putting on a seatbelt?

    21. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Dang….I am SLOW today! Maybe because it’s Friday. Good one, Snubble, you get the “On The Ball” prize today.

    22. RZ*

      It’s difficult for husband to be to get another job, it’s not the kind of firm you can leave easily. They are very old-fashioned, and it’s difficult to effect any change – control of the firm has been handed down from parent to child for centuries.

      (Seriously folks, I hope you’ll take it in the spirit it was meant).

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        His name is Henry, isn’t it? Be careful not to lose your head when you push back!

      2. Christmas Carol*

        Sure they’re old fashioned, but three of their most successful and long tenured CEOs were female.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          But the first only managed to hold on by refusing to have any kind of romance (acknowledged, anyway).

    23. Technical_Kitty*

      Okay, so, unless they are paying you, they have no say in your life. And them trying to interfere in your marriage in such a way is horrifying. Seriously.

      Talk to your husband to be, see what his take on it is. If he’s all “of course you won’t work” and you want to work RED FLAG. If he doesn’t agree with these people but is unwilling to push back his employer interfering in his marriage, RED FLAG. Disclaimer: I am not the marrying kind and am confused why people are so into it.

      If your hubs agrees with you, he may have to look for another job. It sounds like he SHOULD look for another job at any rate, the employer sounds like a nut.

      1. Lizzy*

        *Technically* they will be paying her, and *technically* she will have to work for the firm as well.

        Hubby-to-be does have the support of the lady who owns the firm. I believe she has learned from past mistakes (see “other wife who met sticky end”) and is a lot less strict about things, but there are still Rules and she definitely won’t be able to have the same career she used to.

        ;)

    24. Falling Diphthong*

      Based on the executives I know, this sounds completely bonkerballs. And that includes some whose wives engage in the occasional business dinner with their husbands’ clients with grace and elan. But not sacrificing their own careers to attend.

      Exception: If time travel is involved and he’s a 19th century college professor. Apparently it was pretty normal to suggest to young men entering the field that they marry someone so that they would have someone to handle the social sides of the job. It was like needing a car to be considered for some jobs.

    25. Piano Girl*

      I thoroughly enjoyed this question! I believe that her attention will shift towards the charitable work she is known for doing already. I wish them all the best!

      1. Canarian*

        I was having this conversation with some friends. What a luxury for someone with Meghan’s background (that is to say, as someone with a demonstrated commitment to charitable work not her personal/family background) to have the opportunity to fully devote her time to philanthropic and charitable efforts – from a position that will be significantly more influential than her current one!

        The whole “no jobs” thing could be a bummer to a lot of people, (and I would personally struggle with having to be non-political) but it’s not like she can’t pursue worthwhile efforts, just that she can’t be officially employed on their behalf.

    26. only acting normal*

      Props for using “the firm”. :-D

      For the uninitiated that’s what the Queen jokingly calls the Royal Family. (And essentially when you marry in, you are “being hired” to work for them).

    27. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Reading though, I love the people who clearly didn’t get the joke. :) Don’t worry, clueless ones, I’m one of you too! Just not this time. All the other times, yes.

    28. Kir Royale*

      In exchange for your career and privacy , you have access to unlimited wealth and media coverage. Worth the trade? Time will tell

    29. Someone whose first name (not middle name) is actually Meghan*

      Dear Rachel,

      You knew exactly what you were getting into. Expectations were clear from the start. You had no blinders on about the institution you are CHOOSING to marry into. No one is forcing you. If you don’t like it, you are free to walk away. Stop complaining.

        1. Someone whose first name (not middle name) is actually Meghan*

          So it is not weird for someone to post pretending to be Meghan Markle, but it is weird for someone to respond to them posting as Meghan Markle? Got it. I clearly should have known.

    30. #Blessed*

      This reminds me of a similar situation I knew of recently, but in that case the firm was not run by a husband and wife together, but solely by a woman. Her husband had a position in the company but it was honorary, like that of a non-voting board member, more or less.

      1. Lizzy*

        There was a scene in the PBS show “Victoria” where they were essentially describing their jobs to someone. Albert said that they run the company, and Victoria said “Actually, *I* run the company. He just handles the paperwork.”

    31. Batshua*

      Is it bad that my sarcastic response would be to say “No, because HE needs to come with ME on MY work trips!”?

      (Seriously, though, don’t do that. Push back in a non-sarcastic way.)

    32. steaming fury anon*

      This thread is about the royal wedding.

      I had to read the whole fcking thread to figure that out because I was so confused. I have never felt like my time has been more wasted on the Friday post, which I always feel is incredibly useful and interesting, up until this moment. I am incredibly pissed off.

      Do not reply to this thread telling me to chill out. I’m going to take a walk.

      1. Lizzy*

        Riiiiiiiiight… because the multiple references to Meghan Markle, the royals, the wedding, and the joke in general didn’t make you get it?
        A walk sounds like a good idea. No one forced you to read the thread.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Maybe you should seek some therapy for your anger issues.

        This is a disproportionate response to any post in any online community, but especially this one, which was clearly not done with ill intent.

    33. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Loving some of the comments on this thread.

      Hook, line, sinker, rod and copy of Angling Times.

    34. mentor*

      Will your husband’s job be in the 1950s? Seriously, WTF? That is PURE CRAZY.

      Was the previous wife murdered? Disappeared? Deeetails please!

  9. Susan K*

    I am an experienced teapot maker with over a decade of experience at two companies. Over the years, I have developed a particular interest and expertise in spouts, and I’ve long been considered the go-to person in my department for spout-related issues. Last year, I applied for an internal promotion to teapot spout designer, but an external candidate, Jane, was hired instead.

    While it stung to be passed over for something that I was well qualified for, I wasn’t terribly disappointed because it would have meant losing overtime pay by going from non-exempt to exempt. When Jane started, I was happy to help her get up to speed, and she has been very appreciative of my help. She does not have the same level of knowledge and experience that I have, though, and although she’s been here a while, she continues to lean on me a lot. It is part of the teapot makers’ job to support the teapot designers, but not normally to the extent that I’ve been helping Jane.

    I’m starting to get the sense that our managers don’t realize how much of the spout design work I’m doing. I don’t think Jane is lying about it, but maybe implying, or letting her manager assume, that she is doing the work that she is actually asking me to do and accepting credit for getting it done. I have to admit it bothers me that her manager probably thinks she’s doing a great job and that he made the right decision to hire her instead of me, when she would probably be struggling without my help. Plus, if I had gotten the job, I wouldn’t have had the benefit of having a teapot maker to help me because none of the other teapot makers know how to do most of what I help her with. Jane’s work is also taking time away from my other work, and while I’m still getting all my normal work done, I could be doing more if I weren’t spending so much time helping Jane.

    I don’t mind continuing to help Jane with spout design because I actually find it interesting, but I want to make sure I’m getting credit for all the work I’m doing. How can I bring this up without sounding like I’m criticizing or accusing Jane? I don’t want it to look as though I am just jealous of Jane because she got the job and I didn’t. Should I talk to my manager? Jane’s manager? Ask Jane herself if she has told her manager how much I’m helping her?

    1. Secretary*

      I think you should pull back on helping Jane do her job so much. I know you enjoy it, but you need to let Jane do her work because that’s what she’s being paid for.

      There’s good advice on that in this post:
      https://www.askamanager.org/2010/07/how-long-should-it-take-new-hire-to-get.html

      Here’s the steps I would take in the meantime:
      – Depending on how long it’s been, I would stop doing things FOR Jane and instead teach her how to do them or tell her where to get the info to learn how to do them. Transition her to the point where she asks you questions about how to do her job, and you say “The info on spout circumference is in the file that says ‘opening'” then go back to doing your work.
      – If you go to your manager, frame it like you’re trying to understand how much to be helping Jane, NOT that Jane is struggling. You want to come across graceful about having been passed over. You could say something like, “Bernice, I just wanted to check in with you on how much time I should continue to allocate to helping Jane. She’s been here for 8 weeks, and while I’m getting all my other work done I’m spending a lot of time helping her. How long do you want this to continue?”
      But don’t say it while hinting in a tone of your voice that you would be better for the job, say it like you are really wondering.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        I like this approach very much. As a manager myself, when we have new people in our office, I assume that the new employee is getting some help from their coworkers. However, how much help they are getting is usually a mystery until someone lets me know.

        In this instance, if the OP has a good manager, the manager will ask how much time OP is spending helping Jane. If I were to hear anything above a couple of hours a week, my eyebrows would be raised–not because of the OP’s assistance, but in the potential lack of Jane’s expertise. This opens the door for the manager to approach Jane, or if Jane has a different manager, to have OP’s manager take it up with Jane’s manager.

        OP, Secretary’s script opens the door for the dialog with your manager without it coming across as sour grapes. This is really good advice.

    2. my two cents*

      Maybe go about this in a round about way. Talk with your manager (maybe Jane’s ?) mention how much you would like to eventually be promoted to the spout design department. Ask for feedback about your interview and what you can do to improve your chances next opportunity. Mention how you have always been the go to person and have had the opportunity to help Jane with projects 1,2,3,4…. Keep detailed records, if anything you can put this on your resume. Perhaps by presenting things this way it will trigger those higher up to realize your not just someone with knowledge of this issue but you have an active hand in current projects.

    3. Denise*

      You’re being very emotionally mature about this. This seems like your best angle: “Jane’s work is also taking time away from my other work.” You could perhaps mention to your manager that you have been spending X amount of time with Jane working on spout design, and while you are happy to continue working with (or assisting) Jane in getting everything done, you’re finding that it is taking up a lot of your time and you want to know if they would like you to continue producing spout designs or focus more on tasks within your defined role.

      They will likely either have to then acknowledge your design contributions and give them their formal blessing or ask you to focus elsewhere, at which point you can decide if you want to explore other job opportunities that would enable you to focus on what you really enjoy. You could also be more direct and point out recent examples of your work and ask if they would like to alter your role to formally include spout design alongside Jane…but that might look like you are still gunning for her position.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you have to stop helping her. Part of the reason is that it gives you the sense of doing the work you enjoy, then reality strikes and you get reminded it’s not your job. It’s like being on a roller coaster, the high being doing the enjoyable work and the low is where you do not get recognition. Illusion vs. Reality. I think end the roller coaster ride.

  10. Burt's Knees*

    Friday Food Thread:
    In honor of Friday, and my universally mocked office breakfast of half a bagel slathered in cream cheese liberally covered in banana slices, what’s the weirdest snack you or your coworkers frequently eat?
    (please keep this non racist)

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      That bagel sounds awesome right now.

      One of my coworkers always brings interesting fruits and shares with us, so that’s a nice little bonus.

      I haven’t really seen anything “weird” but sometimes I feel weird that I bring my sandwiches in parts – I hate soggy, mushy bread and prefer to toast my bread before assembling my sandwich, so I have a bunch of little bags and containers with me all the time.

      1. Oxford Coma*

        I do this by wrapping the sandwich accordian-style in Saran wrap. Piece of bread, fold of wrap, piece of lettuce, fold of wrap, etc.

      2. Temperance*

        I do the same thing, although I typically bring all the sandwich pieces for the week at once. Death to soggy bread!

    2. Juney Junipero*

      Never tried it but the ardent internet love of peanut butter-pickle sandwiches does make me want to someday!

      1. Pickle Lover*

        I LOVE peanut butter pickle sandwiches! Get a good crusty bread, dill pickles, and crunchy peanut butter and you’re good to go

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Writer Chuck Wendig posted a sandwich on Twitter the other day–peanut butter, bacon, pickles, and mayo on sourdough bread. I tried it, and it is fantastic. I never would have thought. I’ve eaten two now and I can’t stop. (I used dill pickles because I don’t like sweet ones.)

        I love getting food ideas from people at work, so I tend to always peek at their lunches.

    3. anyone out there but me*

      Sounds delicious.

      My former coworker used to eat those freeze-dried vegetables that are supposed to be an alternative to potato chips. Okra, snap peas, green beans, whatever she could find. To my taste, it is like eating styrofoam. Yuck.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I once horrified a coworker that I was eating chocolate chip graham cracker teddy bears. I do not find teddy grahams that odd, but apparently they did. I don’t recall exactly what the problem was other than they just thought it was really, really weird that someone who wasn’t a toddler/didn’t have any toddlers would eat them.

      1. Pam*

        I was eating circus animal cookies (the pink and white ones) the other day. It’s important to get the Mother’s brand, as the store brands look more like circus blobs than actual animals.

      2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        I’ve been eating teddy grahams for years, and now that I do have a toddler, she has to ask me for them – I buy them for me!

        Also little fruit snack packages.

      3. WillWorkForLivingWage*

        I was eating goldfish and applesauce pouches all last week to get me through our busy season. Toddlers know where it’s at with easy to eat snacks.

      4. MMM*

        I do plenty of my shopping in what is labeled the “lunchbox” aisle, I just love kids snacks! (mainly teddy grahams and goldfish)

    5. Anon for this*

      I have a boss who’s obsessed with plain digestive biscuits. Not with tea or anything, not the ones with chocolate…just plain and dry. I’ve never understood that.

      Another example: Not in the type of food, but in the way he would eat lunch. Egg salad sandwich every day, but he wouldn’t move his hands to his mouth to eat. Instead, he would hold the sandwich and move his head down to take a bite. He ate fast, so it looked exactly like a chicken pecking for grain.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have a co-worker who frequently disdains my perfectly normal vegetables. Anything with vegetables. I remind her that she doesn’t have to eat them, nor does she have to watch me eat them, so bye.

    7. Pollygrammer*

      Several coworkers dared each other to eat those cornstarch-based nontoxic packing peanuts once…

    8. epi*

      My boss usually has a supply of Trader Joe’s cookies that she keeps in her friend’s office so she doesn’t eat them all at once. If I’m having a rough day she’ll take me over there for cookies. I often see her eating a box of prepped fresh green beans and using a jar of dressing as a dip… Actually I think that’s a pretty good idea.

      I recently discovered that the grocery store near my office has acceptable lunch sushi, so lately my treat lunch has been a California roll, a single serve cottage cheese, and an iced coffee. I’m aware it’s a weird combination but I love it so much it’s how I bribe myself not to go out for lunch somewhere more expensive/unhealthy.

      1. Specialk9*

        Wide mouthed Mason jars are just the right size to hold an individual container of hummus at the top and still for the lid on. So I put veggies, pop hummus on, lid, lunch.

        1. Lora*

          Wide mouth mason jars make my lunch cooking much easier. Saw a YouTube about how to make noodle soup cups in wide mouth mason jars and I can make enough noodle soup cups for a whole week in 20 minutes: veggies, precooked shrimp, dashi flakes/granules, soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped green onion, bunch of cooked drained noodles. Half a hardboiled egg on top. 10 minutes before eating, fill the jar with hot water from the kettle and put the lid back on, then shake it up a bit to distribute the broth.

          Also, overnight oats in mason jars.

    9. BottleBlonde*

      At my last job I had a coworker who would have an eggplant for lunch about once a week. She would just bring in a raw eggplant, microwave it for like 10 minutes at lunchtime, and eat it just like that. Totally plain. I’m not an eggplant eater but that struck me as pretty odd regardless.

      1. Nita*

        That might actually be pretty good! I cook eggplant that way for chopping it into a salad, and I’m always nibbling on the skins while cleaning it – yum! Seems a bit messy for a lunch though.

    10. selina kyle*

      Related – I used to eat cashews fairly regularly at work – when my (amazing, wonderful) boss broke the news that she had accepted a position at another company, she brought me a 2lb jar of cashews to soften the blow.

    11. Phoenix Programmer*

      A coworker once brought Pop tarts to the office and was teased all day about being a child.

      1. Susan K*

        When we have all-day training sessions, the instructor supplies snacks, and Pop Tarts are always on the snack table. Sometimes, instructors will send out an e-mail in advance asking what flavors of Pop Tarts we want.

      2. A.*

        I used to bring hot pockets or lunchables to eat for lunch. I love nostalgic food but now I’m eating healthier so I stopped.

      3. KarenK*

        I love pop tarts. Blueberry pop tarts, slightly over-toasted so they’re dark around the edges. And Spaghetti Os with Chinese noodles or potato sticks mixed in and Parmesan cheese.

          1. Laura*

            My bf prefers plain, unfrosted blueberry poptarts as well. Walmart is the only place I can usually find them.

    12. WellRed*

      There is currently chocolate hummus in the office fridge. Chickpeas and chocolate. Who knew such a thing existed?

      1. SoCalHR*

        I’ve had this – its quite good. Especially with cinnamon or chocolate pita chips!

        1. Specialk9*

          It’s delicious. Boars Head brand, right? It’s incredible.

          I also like Banza chickpea pasta.

      2. Nessun*

        Oh, that can be awesome! There’s a local company owned by two nutritionists that sells chickpeas with different things (chocolate, peanut butter, nuts) – they do single servings and sell at the farmer’s market, and it is excellent stuff!!

    13. SoCalHR*

      Why is your bagel being mocked, that seems really normal for me (except for maybe the high carb content?).
      Anyway, my old roommate had a coworker who, every morning, would microwave a baked potato in the work microwave, housed in one of those envelopes with the little clear plastic window in them. To my knowledge he still does it, every morning.

      1. Burt's Knees*

        People seem to think that putting a banana on top of the cream cheese and bagel is weird. Everywhere I’ve worked people are weirded out by it! I think it’s delicious.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s only because it’s unusual and people are ridiculous about anything they’re not used to seeing. If they get on your case about it, remind them that cream cheese can be sweet too, like in frosting, and they should just shut up. (OK, maybe that’s too direct.)

          I like to eat plain yogurt and salsa with a spoon and people get all “Ew!” on me, as if tortilla chips are the only thing between that and “normal”.

          There are TWO things one may say when seeing another’s food: “That looks/smells delicious!” or, “OK, thank you for the suggestion, I’m getting the same thing for lunch tomorrow.”

          1. Burt's Knees*

            I love eating salsa with a spoon! Honestly, it’s healthier! You are taking out a completely unnecessary chip.

    14. Susan K*

      I used to have a coworker who loved bell peppers, and she would eat a whole bell pepper as a snack. She would just bite right into it the way people eat apples. She didn’t cut it up or eat it with dip or anything — just the plain bell pepper.

      1. TurquoiseCow*

        Oh, like the Chairman in the original Japanese Iron Chef. He would open each episode by dramatically biting into a bell pepper. I think it was yellow? I like bell peppers, but that struck me as odd.

        My husband has an aversion to peppers – it’s a texture thing for him. He was definitely a bit unnerved when I showed him an episode of the show.

      2. Branzino*

        I’ve never bitten into one like an apple, but I do enjoy just plain bell peppers. A little salt is all they need. They’re delicious.

      1. You don't know me*

        I have a fairly private cubicle but one day someone stopped by just as I dug my spoon into the jar of peanut butter I keep in my desk. We both laughed and I joked that at least it wasn’t 5 seconds later when that spoon would have been in my mouth.

        1. MissMaple*

          Ha, I do this too! This is actually an on-going discussion between my husband, myself, and another couple. Can I ask which part of the country you’re from? Both mid-western-raised wives are huge fans of the peanut butter on a spoon as a snack and both husbands, mid-Atlantic origins, think we’re crazy :)

          1. Teapot librarian (and recovering lawyer)*

            Mid-Atlantic raised and current, college in the midwest.

          2. BlueWolf*

            Haha, I’ve been known to eat peanut butter from the spoon. I don’t do it often, but if there’s no other snack things in the house I definitely do it. I’m from the Midwest too, so maybe you’re onto something there…

    15. NewBoss2016*

      I had a co-worker that used to microwave fresh kale to snack on. It had a very strong urea scent when microwaved for some reason. One day our boss started pacing around the breakroom asking everyone who entered if they thought someone had urinated in there. She was mortified and never brought Kale again.
      Sometimes I get a can of olives and eat them out of the can with a fork. People think that is super weird.

      1. Juney Junipero*

        Saw someone doing that in the gym locker room once and, not gonna lie, thought it was weird. Maybe the context + food item combo influenced my perception in that case, though.

    16. Nita*

      I have a long list :) Homemade fish paste sandwiches (canned salmon + lemon juice + capers), dried seaweed snacks, sliced radish, corn on the cob (packing THAT was not my idea, but it’s surprisingly not messy), and last but not least, Little Debbie snack cakes (no one seems to eat these any more!) That’s nothing compared to what I eat at home though… pregnancy really does weird things to one’s tastes.

    17. Aphrodite*

      I have always liked Triscuit crackers with a smear of peanut butter, a bit of salt, and a hamburger dill pickle slice on top of that. It’s tasty. Really.

    18. Temperance*

      I used to work with a woman who microwaved some sort of fish for breakfast. She was a damn monster. lol

    19. Irene Adler*

      I’m gonna need to try that. Never thought about banana w/the cream cheese going together. Thank you!

    20. straws*

      I used to bring in a cucumber and a candy bar every morning for breakfast, and sometimes I’ll eat a can of black olives as a snack.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        I posted about the olives above, too! Glad to know I am not the only one. People at my office think it is really strange for some reason.

        1. Specialk9*

          My toddler eats a pack of olives every day. He thinks it’s normal, and it’s easy for me! I think there’s like 10 olives in there. (I loathe olives, but not my lunch.)

        2. straws*

          I missed that somehow! Same here – straight out of the can with a fork. Quick and easy. People think I’m weird for it, but they do benefit from my keeping a can opener in my drawer. Also, people think I’m weird for plenty of reasons, so it’s kind of like a drop in the bucket.

    21. Veg lover*

      My coworker is vegan but also a 20 something young man and an athlete. He regularly brings in a salad for his lunch in a large glass mixing bowl. Today he has a 2 quart pyrex bowl of rice and beans – his salad bowl is probably 3-4 quarts. Vegetable consumption goals!!

    22. Nashira*

      I really like fruit dipped in hummus that I’ve spiked with hot sauce. Blackberries are best, followed by mangos, oranges and then apples.

      1. Burt's Knees*

        I get a free lunch every day at work that come from a rotating list of local restaurans, and it’s VERY important to me that I am at max capacity to enjoy it.

    23. Canarian*

      I did not know that resealable pouches full of peeled, hard-boiled eggs were a thing you could buy until I had a coworker who would walk around the office with a bag, chowing down as he walked around and talked to people. The memory still makes me a little nauseated

    24. NorCalifHR*

      Most unusual in the office today: hot cinnamon raisin bread toast, slathered with cream cheese and topped with drained shredded pineapple, with a 50/50 mix of blood orange juice and diet 7-up as the accompaning beverage. Have to say the toasting bread made everyone hungry!

    25. Emily S.*

      One of my coworkers regularly brings in GIANT plastic containers full of fruit, such as grapes, to snack on throughout the day.

      It wouldn’t be strange if it was, say, a small baggie, but it’s one of those huge containers that you might bring to a large potluck.

    26. aes_sidhe*

      Everyone thinks I’m weird for eating applesauce on zesta saltine crackers. The weirdest snack I’ve seen is my mom’s mayo, grape jelly, and sliced block cheddar cheese sandwich.

    27. Becky*

      I don’t know if it is weird, but I keep a box of Corn Flakes in my desk to snack on.

    28. Notorious GMB*

      My girlfriend has a weird snack. Oh, it’s so cute. She’ll sometimes take a little pack of mayonnaise, and she’ll squirt it in her mouth all over, and then she’ll take an egg and kind of mash it in her mouth. She calls it a “mayonegg.”

      You okay?

    29. Trillion*

      That bagel sounds amazing.

      I didn’t realize how often I brought hummus and veggies to work until someone commented that they thing that’s all I ever eat, ever.

      I’m literally 100 lbs overweight, silly. I’d be skinny and gorgeous if that’s all I ate.

    30. Ladylike*

      For some reason, it grosses me out when people reuse water bottles to bring milk to work. In every place I’ve ever worked, there are water bottles full of milk in the shared fridge. I don’t know why it bothers me – there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s jusg a weird quirk of mine. Maybe because I’m not a milk fan.

  11. Anon for this*

    So, my boss sent me an email today basically asking for a one-on-one feedback session because he hates my writing. Well, the way he put it was that we needed to talk about the “tone” of our communications because he hasn’t been able to be as involved (aka hovering over my shoulder as I type or editing social media posts after they’ve been posted), sent me an inspirational youtube video to watch and said how “valuable” I was to the team. It read like something out of a “management for dummies” book.

    We’ve had these before. They basically amount to him saying that our communications need to “sound cooler” without defining what “cool” means to him or providing any specific feedback. I’ve created a communications style guide, a “words we do and don’t use” cheat sheet, multiple strategy documents and tried everything to provide a clear communications framework. It never seems to stick or work. I’ve even tested him with his own writing. I’ll take an old approved piece of copy, change the names/nouns involved to suit the new subject matter and send it to him for approval. 99.9% of the time it comes back covered in edits. Similar text sent again a week after including those edits? Totally covered in edits again, often with changes that contradict last week’s changes. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    I’ve basically reached the conclusion that it’s not about anything I do or don’t write. It’s just about his personal feelings about me. He doesn’t seem to like me or think I’m cool enough. He’s made cracks about my appearance before and has been something of a passive bully. The bigger problem? I’m feeling so demoralized by it all that I just don’t even try anymore. I view myself as the “first-draft” generator who’s responsible for getting the facts barfed onto the page, but not much else. Why should I try to make things sound good when my boss just eviscerates everything I write anyways, no matter how hard I try? I’ve worked at other organizations in high-level communications positions and I’ve never had this sort of reaction before. I’ve had bosses who’ve had really specific, counterintuitive style requirements and I’ve always been able to make them happy. I’ve been here for two years now. Shouldn’t I be feeling confident in my job responsibilities? Shouldn’t we have moved past this by now? Shouldn’t I feel like I “get” him by now?

    My work days are mostly spent fighting back tears, crying in the bathroom, sitting at my computer in a numb daze, or getting so angry that I feel like flinging my work product into the sun. I’m really tempted to email him back one of the following:

    1) A video of the Spice Girls singing “Tell me what you want” on a loop for 10 hours.
    2) Nedry’s “Ah Ah Ah” gif from Jurassic Park.
    3) Just a simple “No.”

    Thoughts?

    1. Administrator excellante*

      I’ve been where you are. I’ve spent the last decade (oh God, it’s been that long) working for lawyers who will ALWAYS find some mistake (real or otherwise) on my work and have me do it again. My old boss use to circle random paragraphs on settlement demands and the write FONT??? next to it. Like, dude, it’s the same font as the rest of the document. But I would just smile and say “I’ll check on it!” and then go about my day. The only advice I have is to embrace it. Recognize that most times you’ll need to do things twice and just build it into your day. Don’t rush to get things done, create some down time into your day where you can decompress and get some distance (if this is possible where you are). And you know that it’s not personal, so remember not to take it personally. Oh, and start looking around for another job.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I know of someone who was given a homework assignment to accurately punctuate an excerpt. They recognised the story/characters so located the original text and copied the punctuation. The teacher disagreed with their work and failed the assignment.

        With some people you are never going to ‘win’. (Where win equals do it right without their corrections)

        1. I edit everything*

          Speaking as an editor, I don’t find this at all surprising. First, errors make it into published work all the freaking time. Second, many supposed “rules” of punctuation and sentence construction are extremely subjective. So assuming the teacher wasn’t using the published text as the answer key, it’s completely likely she’d come up with something different. Enough to fail the assignment, though? That’s more surprising.

          1. Jules the Third*

            Depends on the comma usage. I’m an Oxford Comma girl, and I failed a couple of papers because the teacher cut 3 – 5 points per ‘extra’ ‘unnecessary’ comma.

    2. long time lurker*

      You need a new job. I’m sorry. But this dynamic isn’t going to change. It’s not about the quality of your work, it’s about your boss wanting to have this particular power over you and wanting to make you feel small and keep you ‘in your place’, and no matter what you do, you won’t satisfy him. He will always come up with a reason why he’s unsatisfied. You said yourself that you’ve done excellent work at other orgs and never had these problems: that’s because the problem is him, not you.

      It may be because he’s intimidated or jealous, or maybe he’s just an asshole. But ultimately it doesn’t matter what his issue is. You need to get out ASAP. This won’t get better and it will keep damaging your confidence until you leave.

      Signed,
      Someone who’s been there, twice.

        1. Recovering perfectionist*

          Oh god yes, this.
          My last job was like this. My boss and I started around the same time, and every article or written piece I would submit would disappear for 3-6 weeks because it “needed work,” and then come back destroyed. (This was after 10 years of communications/reporting work, having never received similar feedback.) After six months on the job, I started phoning it in, throwing words on a page and knowing they’d be torn apart. It was just as I was leaving for my honeymoon that my boss asked “Just HOW do you write these?” And “I’m starting to suspect you’re not a good writer.”

          After spending much of my trip in tears, I came back and started looking for a new job immediately. My confidence was wrecked, and it took leaving that position to help me remember that I’m actually effective. It took another six months (and the boss fawning all over me to stay — definitely some personality issues there) to find a new job, but in my first week at my current position, I wrote a piece and handed it in, and my boss said “Oh, just post it.” (Me: TO THE INTERNET? WHERE EVERYONE CAN SEE?!) She had full trust in her hire, and I am still so grateful.

          Getting out of that situation helped me shake out so many of the demons who told me I was incapable. Please, please do the same for your brain.

    3. Boy oh boy*

      4) A video of the Spice Girls singing “Goodbye” after you find another job.

      I’m really sorry your boss is so impossible.

    4. TGIF*

      My only thought is to get out! Sounds like a very micro-managing boss who is never going to give up this fight. Job search and GET OUT!

      1. Det. Charles Boyle*

        Start looking for another job, because this isn’t going to change. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this. Good luck to you!!

    5. Susan K*

      Wow, that’s awful, and it is completely understandable that you are feeling so demoralized. This is a case where your boss is an ass and isn’t going to change. He’s giving feedback that’s so vague that you can’t act on it, and measuring your performance so subjectively that you can’t refute it. I almost wonder if he’s setting you up to be fired. I know getting a new job is easier said than done, but I hope you can get out of there soon.

    6. MuseumChick*

      This sounds like a case of “Your boss sucks and it isn’t going to change”.

      I’m sure you have tried this but the only thing I can think (aside from getting a new job) is to, in a professional tone say “I’m having trouble understanding what we mean here by “cool”. For example, back in (month) we made a post that read (what it was), but last week when I crafted a similar post, it wasn’t approved. Could you give me some examples of how we should be crafting our posts?”

      *whatever bullshit he says*

      “Ok, from what you say I’m getting that we should *repeat his BS back to him* is that correct?

      1. Workerbee*

        This! It can at least give you some internal satisfaction even if you know that the asshole is going to stay being an asshole.

        I had a boss who would do pretty much what you have in your example. I was getting so confused/demoralized by week after week of her saying, “No, this isn’t how I want you to write it!” after I’d copy the same tone and style of what she had approved and then applauded the previous week, that I started keeping examples.

        When I brought these up to her, and said how I’m unsure how to proceed because when she said to do X and I did X, now she’s saying No, it should be Y, she denied that she’d ever said anything like that or was behaving like that.

        What with this constancy and other bait’n’switch routines, I was so gaslit by the end of that job that I almost lost the next job I had immediately after, because I doubted my own abilities that much. I was meanly glad I learned that that boss was fired at some point after I’d left, but she resurfaced in yet another high-paying, high-powered job in another company. Sometimes I think there’s just a special type of compensation for people like that.

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          Ditto for me and a former boss. I had a long history in the role and with coworkers and other managers, and when I was at the point that I couldn’t deal with the boss’s crazy, changing, outrageous expectations any longer, I went to a few of those managers and asked for help with references and finding another job.
          Unbeknownst to me, they individually went to bat for me and things started rolling behind the scenes. I was applying for jobs and getting interviews, but then boss’s role was changed and eventually she ended up moving to a different department. I was sort of fortunate in that I had many people working on my behalf that I didn’t know about till much, much later, but I still ended up leaving a year or so later on. Even after having so many people working to keep me, getting out was the thing that worked.

    7. LKW*

      Sadly I’ve had to say this (IRL) to people:

      Crying at or because of your job is a really clear sign that this is not the right job for you*. That’s not to say the work isn’t right -but rather, the environment is toxic and it’s time to leave.

      *Exceptions for actors, professional mourners and those who deal with difficult situations like oncology, etc.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, this is very true, according to my sample size of one (1). Case in point: Last job I cried all the time due to a gas lighting boss who was never satisfied and constantly lied. Current job? 18 months and no tears. Because the environment is not toxic and my boss isn’t a cruel liar.

      2. Em*

        Seriously, I had a job where one of the higher ups changed and we ended up having a spot in our office where the person directly under her could come and cry without being seen.
        That was my first office job and I don’t know what happened after I left, but before I left, the head of the department (who was also new but seemed pretty competent and with it) called me in for a talk (any comments/concerns kind of thing) and I told her about it.

    8. Specialk9*

      COOL?! One doesn’t hire adults to be COOL, unless they’re brand ambassadors or stylists. What a dipweed.

      1. zora*

        Cool is not actionable. If someone uses that word as THE descriptor of marketing copy, they don’t know what they are doing.

        OP, you need to emotionally detach. Search past posts for those words, because we’ve talked about it here a lot. You have to learn how to not care what he says and take it personally, and keep your own self worth separate from what your boss says/does. It is hard, but it is a skill and it gets easier with practice.

        And get out. Even if your boss isn’t doing it on purpose, he is completely clueless and there is no way that continuing to work there will benefit you in any way. I made the same mistake and stayed too long thinking that it was something wrong with me, and I emotionally damaged myself so badly that I have needed years of therapy to get over it. Find a therapist immediately, and start working on a strategy to get a new job. You are probably a BRILLIANT communications person, but you need to work for someone who actually understands what they are doing and how to articulate brand voice and guidelines.

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          +1 to finding a counselor or therapist. This type of treatment damages your confidence and it’s hard to overcome on your own. You absolutely can overcome it, but it will take a lot longer. Having someone on your side who can help you re-calibrate your views on what is crazy and what is normal will be valuable to you and save you much heartache.

    9. The OG Anonsie*

      Boy if it weren’t for that last bit, I’d think I knew the guy.

      Make no mistake, some people give feedback extremely impulsively. That means there’s no consistency and very little predictability to it. It also means there’s no amount of actual efforts that can prevent it– it’s just going to be the way it is.

      How I dealt with this at OldJob when I had to work with a guy like this, I just decided I get paid no matter what. Third round of red ink on a draft? Whatever. I get the same pay and the same bennies whether the final product that goes out has been picked to pieces or not. I started just assuming I was sending, as you say, a first draft that he would finish (eventually…) and stopped trying to perfect them since it didn’t make a difference. It’s accepting, at that point, that really what’s going to go out is a random set of preferences from this guy and it’s basically got nothing to do with me. That at least made me stop being angry about it all the time.

    10. Ann O.*

      It sounds like there’s a mismatch of expectations. If you’ve previously had primary authority over your writing, it’s going to be hard to have someone take that from you. But if your boss wants to edit, has strong feelings about the output, and has primary authority, then you are in a role where you are functionally the first draft generator and he is the editor.

      Your boss sounds like an a-hole in a lot of ways, so sight unseen, I’m going to guess that he’s probably not improving the writing. But the job roles are what they are. So the main question for you is whether you can adjust your expectations and be okay in this role–which will mean being emotionally detached from the edits–or whether this is simply a mismatch and you need to leave.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      The first problem I see is that YOU wrote the communications style guide. HE should have written it, not you.

      So you are crying at work alternating with heavy anger. This means that you have nothing left to lose and you do have some freedom here. It can’t get worse, short of being fired, it’s already hell for you. I assume you want to stay or have to stay, so, consider one of these ideas:

      1) Point out to him that tone has very little to do with punctuation and other grammar points. Correcting commas is not going to change how the writing sounds. Ask him for a sample or two of tone that he likes. We cannot learn what to do if we do not see it. Ask him for samples of the goal he has in mind.

      2)Bring the style guide in, tell him that it’s not working and ask him to create a style guide that will work.

      3) No one can work for a person who says, “Always do ABC” one week and the following week says, “Never do ABC”. The employee can never be right. What I have done with this type of boss is repeat back to him what he says. “So Boss, you are saying always do ABC, right?” Of course he will agree. Next week when he tells you never to do ABC, then you say, “Boss last week you said to DO ABC, I repeated it back to you to make sure I understood. It does not matter which way I do this but I want to get it right each time, every time. So where do we land with this? ABC yes? or ABC no?”

      4) The test pieces you have done: Make a copy of his then a copy of your work where you mimicked his work. Put them side by side and ask him how you missed the boat.

      This is very hard stuff to do. It helped me to realize that the boss could not kick me down lower than I was. It was either talk to them or walk out the door.

      In the long run it did cut the BS in half. But even half of the BS was too much.

    1. Hermione*

      In higher education administration: Depending on the time of the year, anywhere between 60 and 180, I’d guess. Maybe sometimes even as low as 40. Most aren’t actionable, though.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Several hundred useless error messages that are immediately archived. Aside from that, probably an average of two.

    3. Snubble*

      Thirty-ish, not including batches of automated out-of-office replies when I send a mass email out.

    4. Brownie*

      In IT and my inbox is usually between 75-100 per day (a 30 email day is considered highly abnormal), the vast majority of which need to be read and only about 10% need to be acted on. Haven’t kept track of how many are automatically filed and so don’t get counted, but I’d guess another 30 or so do that. My grand-boss gets between 300 and 400 per day and regularly talks about how his job is nothing but attending meetings and reading emails.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Last job in public health: 100+ per day, with at least 30 voicemails when I got into work at 7:30AM.

      Current job in private sector: maybe 5-25 per day, and it’ll surprise me to have a single voicemail.

    6. Yams*

      Between 100-200. It’s hell. I have no idea how to manage the volume and reply in a timely fashion to everything. I just got promoted into this position and I’m a little overwhelmed #panic

      1. Jules the Third*

        100 – 200 here. The key is triage and your preview pane. Each morning, spend 10 minutes moving dreck to folders, so that if it’s not really dreck you can search for it. Dreck = automated emails with no actions; every email in a chain except the last one, that kind of thing.

        Then 20 minutes answering the easy ones. Depending on your job, 30 minutes answering more.

        Then do other work until lunch. After lunch, 30 – 60 minutes dealing with email.
        Then do other work until an hour before you go home. Clean up the email box the last hour.

        A *ton* of email will come through and other people will be the ones needing to do actions. You can, early days, make notes of which ones you think you’ll need to step in