updates: the hoarding volunteer, love of job vs. love of money, and more

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. Is it better to love my job or love the money?

I was so surprised by all the replies to my dilemma and was really blown away by how nice and helpful everyone was. I tried to read all of the replies and the overwhelming response seemed to be that while money can’t buy you happiness, having enough to live a good life outside of work could certainly bring more joy.

I’m still in the job that I mentioned back in July, mainly because I didn’t want to leave after a couple of months and come across as a job hopper. But as I’m coming up to a year at the place I work now, I’ve started looking for something new, and branching out into different industries for something that’s better paid and a bit more senior. I have found a position I’m interviewing for at the moment that isn’t in journalism but content marketing, and I’m hoping I’ll get the job.

This has been and continues to be a really hard decision to make, but the advice was so helpful – particularly from people who had left similar careers for something a little more corporate with better prospects and better money and were loving it. I ended up talking to a lot of my journo friends about it, and it turns out a lot of them feel the same – the industry is so uncertain and so poorly paid that a lot of them are thinking of moving into a different industry too, like charity or marketing. I didn’t know this until I asked. I was feeling like a failure because I wasn’t able to succeed in journalism, but that’s not it at all – it’s tough on all of us, and it’s strangely comforting to realise that, in a selfish kind of way. Anyway, I’m making steps to change things for the better, but I genuinely don’t think I would have started down this road without encouragement from the commenters. So, thank you.

2. Volunteer is a hoarder and her office is a mess (#2 at the link)

Well, disappointing update, but completely predictable. Hoarding volunteer continues hoarding and the board turns a blind eye. I’ve given up because I would try to take stuff out to trash at home, but more stuff would come in. So we’d be back to the same “stuff” level. However, it may all soon be a moot point because … the nonprofit is in terrible trouble, declining donations, declining volunteers, declining enthusiasm. The board turning a blind eye to this was just a small part of a bigger problem — they only see what they want. People have gotten fed up and here we are. I do feel for Anne though, I know her daughter is off to college (across the country) and that she’ll miss her horribly. I have no doubt her tendencies will get worse.

3. I said “EEOC” and things got weird (first update here)

Although it has been some time, I thought I’d send an update.

About 10 months after my letter, I managed to secure a different position in my department. I got more interesting work and, more importantly, got away from my horrible supervisor. While Niles still was my “Big Boss,” my daily work conditions became so much better! Niles and I went on to have a totally fine professional relationship which makes me suspect that much of the drama (and BS) came from my supervisor.

About 14 months after my letter, my public company was purchased by private equity firm and, shortly thereafter, Niles got a nice severance package and was shown the door. My old supervisor has been totally marginalized under the new regime, Fergus continues in his same old role, and, most importantly, my last day at the Office of Angry Bees is this Friday! I received a fantastic offer from a large, established company and I could not be more thrilled! Smell yah later! :)

Anyway, I just went back to your archives and re-read your response and the whole comment string for my letter. I wanted to thank you again for being such a great, level headed resource, especially when I started questioning my sanity. Your readers are also great. I appreciated not only the “way to stand up for yourself” comments but also the constructive criticism. I still don’t regret throwing that EEOC grenade and am pleased I survived to tell the tale.

Here’s to a new, hopefully saner, workplace!

4. Is it too soon to ask about working remotely or part-time in a couple of years? (#2 at the link; first update here)

In a nutshell – I’m engaged (the wedding’s set for next summer), I’m four months pregnant, and I have my very first day of working from home tomorrow! And since my due date will be in the midst of winter, my boss has also suggested that I work at home full-time once the weather starts getting bad until the baby comes.

I’ll know more about the specifics of my leave and schedule afterward in a few months once all the paperwork is filed, but altogether I’m excited. It’s going to be an eventful year ahead…

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    #2: I have a sneaking fondness for “Wait–the molehill is a METAPHOR for this mountain underneath it!” insights.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      I just hope #2 is also on the hunt for a new job. Those molehill to mountain situations are not going to go well or get better. It seems like #2 did all they can do and needs to run screaming.

  2. RabbitRabbit*

    Hooray for 1, 3, and 4 – and sorry to hear it’s predictably bad for #2. Thanks to all for updating us!

  3. viva*

    Thank you to everyone who sends in updates, even if the updates are not the outcomes that they (and we) were hoping for. I still learn something from them and helps me to understand ‘big picture’ patterns, such as evidenced by #2. And of course the updates with good outcomes are very satisfying!

    Anyway, big thanks to Alison, the people who write in, and the commentariat. I learn so much from all of you and I really do appreciate the stories people share.

    1. Gingerblue*

      Agreed. Not everything is going to be a happy update or big and dramatic–the small updates and the unhappy outcomes are valuable to hear about! Thanks to all the letter writers who take the time.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Thirding that those non-dramatic updates help to show big picture patterns. Most of the time, attempts at solutions don’t involve a flock of ducks and drunken comptroller doing the cancan across Accounts Receivable.

      1. Kyrielle*

        But if they ever do, the OP who has that happen should PLEASE send an update, even though it’s not a routine one. Please.

        I think an update with a flock of ducks would be awesome.

          1. AKchic*

            Video update is a requirement if it requires a flock of ducks and / or the cancan by anyone, drunk or not.

  4. Number Five*

    See, having read #3’s title, I want so bad for them to have just, like, whispered “EEOC” in a closet somewhere and as a result now everything is going crazy – y’know, like saying “Bloody Mary”.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Whispered it in a dark bathroom into the mirror, and suddenly HR reps begin foaming at the mouth and shrieking.

    2. AKchic*

      I went to the bathroom in my building (the only bathrooms are in the basement… I do like the added imagery) and whispered “duck club” and now I have strangers quacking and winking at me when they leave the supply room. What have I done?!

  5. WellRed*

    I love that #4 is right on track with absolutely everything she said was going to happen in her original letter. I know she had a lot of commenters telling her you can’t predict the future (including me).

  6. Darury*

    LW #1 is experiencing a preference cascade. You feel like you’re the only person that could possibly be thinking something and so you keep it to yourself for a long while. You share with another person and find out you’re not that odd after all, and pretty soon, you discover that you’re not alone and it helps everyone.

  7. Audenc*

    OP 1- I made a similar transition around your age. I loved journalism and liked my job a lot, and had so much in common with my wonderful colleagues. But I was making a pittance, and watching pretty much anyone around me who was making a living wage get laid-off in their 40s or 50s (i.e. really the worst time ever, financially and career-wise IMO).

    I first went the “trade journalism” route — more money and MUCH more stability. But all the joy I had gotten out of journalism quickly vanished because the people we were supposed to be writing about were the ones funding our jobs, and so a lot was stifled unfortunately. I was more depressed then ever.

    Then, through a connection from a former manager, I was able to break into the research and strategy side of PR — using my writing skills, but also the research capabilities I had honed from years in the field. It’s been a GREAT fit for my skillset, the work is dynamic and challenging, and I get to do work with clients in lots of different industries. I also love my colleagues, many of whom started off on more idealistic paths but realized it’s hard to make it in NYC on $28k/yr. And honestly, the ethics of what we do are clearer to me than they were in trade journalism (i.e. we’re not deluding ourselves for the most part).

    Everyone has different priorities, but for me, the peace of mind I have being able to save my money while also living a pretty comfortable lifestyle (for NYC standards) is invaluable.

  8. Michaela Westen*

    #1, another option might be working with content at a resource site/company.
    My brother was a newspaper editor for a long time. He got a job as editor at a company that is an online resource for attorneys, and he’s done well there for a few years. :)

  9. Sara without an H*

    #1: I feel for you, but journalism is a tough business at the best of times, and right now it’s very unstable. It sounds as though you have good skills that could be applied to a lot of careers that would give you more security and a better quality of life. (I work in higher ed, which is going through a similar shake-out process.)

    #2: You don’t say anything about your own plans, but I really, really hope you’re looking for something else? I agree that Anne’s is a sad case, but there’s nothing much you can do for her.

    #3: YAY!

    #4: Congratulations! And it sounds as though you have an understanding employer. Best wishes for the future.

  10. Jane Smith*

    #1, I’ve been in journalism for 19 years, and I hope someone has told you that not being able to land a job at a major publication after only three years doesn’t actually mean you’re not that good. Writing is like a muscle. You have to train it up. You wouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon tomorrow, right? If you don’t love the work, that’s one thing, and you’re wise to change professions. If you don’t love the work at your current pay, you won’t love it at twice that. (My first real journalism job paid $24k, so I know whereof I speak.) But if you do love the work, give yourself a few more years to develop your skills before you conclude you’ll never make it to the top.

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      I think you’re misunderstanding what OP #1’s concern was. They’re not looking to switch because they don’t think they’re good enough or because they don’t love their work (they specifically said in their letter that they love their work). OP #1’s concern was that while they love their job, it pays awfully, and whether its a good idea to move to a job they like less in order to be more financially stable.

  11. Former Librarian*

    #1 Good luck! There is no shame in prioritizing money and resources over a job, even if you love it. Love doesn’t pay the rent, after all!

    In all honestly, that question “is it better to love my job or love the money” makes me die a little bit inside. Mostly because I have a lot of friends who were in jobs that they felt very passionate about but were very low paying – teacher, for example – and are hitting the age where they really want to get a house, start a family, etc and can’t afford to do so because of their low salaries. So they have been moving on to better paying jobs. And the reactions that a lot of them have been getting from the world-at-large is a dismissive “I guess you were just in it for the money”. Like passion should make up for not being able to afford things. And I often hear “you shouldn’t be in it for the money anyway, you should do it for [whatever the mission of the job is]” as an excuse for not ensuring that those jobs pay higher wages. I think that you see this a lot more in female-dominated careers, like teaching. Ugh. Sorry for the bit of a rant, obviously this is something of a hot button for me.

    1. PB*

      And I often hear “you shouldn’t be in it for the money anyway, you should do it for [whatever the mission of the job is]” as an excuse for not ensuring that those jobs pay higher wages.

      I encounter this, too, and it makes my blood boil. Invariably, IME, the people saying it make very comfortable salaries.

    2. kitryan*

      Well, the [mission of the job] or the [artistic/self fulfillment] is why you do that job rather than some other job… but everyone’s still got to eat.
      And f*** working for exposure.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree 100%. And, sadly, I think that the mentality is still that a woman will work at a low-paying career for “pin money” because her husband is the main breadwinner. Or because she has a trust fund or a rich family.

    4. Iphigenia*

      You see this happening with libraries, too. Not so much with the assistants, techs or most librarians, but the boards and the public? They love to trot that one out.

  12. Didi*

    To OP 1: I was a journalist, started in the business making $300 a week, and after 12 years I was in an envied position making $60K. So you can absolutely get paid more over time. That said, I jumped into corporate jobs because I was burned out on journalism and I saw a bleak future for the profession, as news holes shrank, news outlets were squeezed for profits and cost-cutting was rampant.

    The problem is that many journalists consider their job the calling of a noble profession. Taking a job in PR or marketing is considered selling out, going to “the dark side.” Maybe it is. But if you are considering getting out of the business, ask yourself: Do you want to be a martyr to a noble profession? If the answer is no, then I’d advise you to jump ship as soon as possible, to establish yourself in a new profession while you’re young.

    When I left journalism to get into research and technical writing, I was in my early 30s. Most of my friends in journalism stayed on, while I got myself established in my new career. Many of them eventually jumped ship to PR or marketing, but they did it much later – in their early to mid 40s. They had a much harder time making the transition, and they had to start out at junior levels when they should have been mid-career professionals. Some clung on to journalism until they were laid off, and what do they do now? Manage a retail store, manage a shipping warehouse, do some low-level social media, scrape by freelancing, managing a call center, or working in government jobs that don’t pay much. Some gave up looking and live off their spouses’ earnings.

    I am glad that I listened to that voice inside my head that said “I can’t do this forever.”

  13. PM Jesper Berg*

    “The problem is that many journalists consider their job the calling of a noble profession.”

    This “noble profession” line is such BS, Whether it comes from journalists or other occupations such as lawyers. It is almost always used to deter people in those occupations from moving to positions in related fields that pay much better: PR jobs in the case of journalists, business side jobs in the case of lawyers.

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