updates: I caused a coronavirus panic, asking to go part-time, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. Can I ask to go part-time since my work is slow? (#5 at the link)

I wrote to you back in October when I was in total-freak-out-panic mode and close to walking away from everything. I never ended up asking my manager to go part time and instead I decided to take a MAJOR CHILL PILL, give it my best, and use the time to explore other options. I forgot to mention I took a big risk and moved over 2,000 miles to accept this position. During the lengthy interview process, I asked so many questions about workload, the work itself, the culture, etc. And I even talked to a few former employees. I had high hopes it would be my “dream job” and the change I needed both personally and professionally. I moved in July, started the job in August, and by October it was dawning on me that this is not what I wanted or signed up for; I was becoming a little unhinged.

In terms of workload, things have not changed. I was slow before the pandemic and now I am extremely slow BUT much better at keeping myself busy (or looking busy). Since there is a lack of project hours, I keep finding odd things here and there and charging a lot to “business development”. My plan is to keep doing this until someone tells me not to, which will probably also be the same day they let me go. In addition, six people have left since I started, including my manager. The same manager who created this position to support their projects (of which there are none).

I find myself in a bit of an odd position, nothing is an emergency (yet) but nothing is quite sustainable either. And everything has an overlay of pandemic panic. The next day could be exactly the same as today, or it could be my last day with a paycheck. I’m far from home, but I’m grateful to be healthy and safe.

Overall, this experience has taught me three things (1) there’s no such thing as a “dream job” (which AAM has mentioned before and I fully support!), (2) when panicked, take a step back, look at the facts, and find something to be grateful for, and (3) sometimes you take a risk and it’s not what you want, but that doesn’t mean you failed. I’ve accepted its time to find a new career even if it means it’ll take a few years. And if the readers have any examples of mid-life career changes and how they did it, I would love to hear!

2. I caused a coronavirus panic at work (#3 at the link)

The building did reopen and I was able to return. Wary about sharing specific details in case too identifying. Very few people talked to me but I used a script along the lines of what was suggested, that I’m fine but understand the concern and we all have to follow policy

Very few because not had contact with many people. There are certain areas of the building I can’t go into now- not limited to me but for all outside contracts. There is a checkin procedure every day. The good news is I apologized to my boss when returning after all this mess and he laughed and didn’t hold it against me. The immediate negative response died down and turned into understanding that none of us knew what to do

The downside is that all these strict policies have made me miserable. Not because of the job itself. I am exposed to people on the bus and street, a lot of whom aren’t even trying to follow good procedure. I reported to my boss a (thankfully short lasting) sore throat because it is something that has to be reported on the checkin and he emphasized the importance of taking care of your health but I don’t know how much more I can do.

I wear a mask all the time in public and at work. It is quite uncomfortable esp with wearing glasses. Then having a physical job on top of that and feeling like I can’t catch a breath, and oh no the mask is slipping down but to fix it means contamination and now it it pressing on just under my eyes. I am supposed to wear the mask the whole time during my shift and it is unfortunately a big source of stress. I have sensory issues as well as OCD that makes me wayyy fixate on everything but I feel like I have to.

tl;dr immediate situation was resolved but my mental health is garbage right now. But thank you for the scripts, and as well as you and the commenters reassuring me I wasn’t about to be fired. You were right!

3. Should I work long hours for low pay in order to get experience? (from 2010!) (first update here)

I was inspired by the update from another letter-writer dating back 10 years. I actually can’t believe it’s been so long since I was a naive new grad trying to break into any industry that would have me.

Your advice, and the readers’ comments, were the affirmation I needed to turn down the job offer. And I’m so glad I did! I had other friends take canvassing-type jobs after graduating (It was a tough year to find a job!) and they took years to pivot out of the field, predictably to their financial detriment.

Your resume/cover letter advice really helped me focus on what skills I had gained during undergrad jobs and internships, and I found an entry-level fundraising job later that summer. It turned out to be an excellent move and I spent six years working with fundraising databases. After finding myself in a quagmire of office politics that essentially meant I was stuck in my role, I moved to a data analyst position at a fledgling nonprofit about four years ago. I’ve received raises and promotions, started managing my first employee, and have a solid career path ahead of me now! I’ll be starting my Master’s in Computer Science with a focus on databases this summer. exactly 10 years to the day that my letter was published. Even with the pandemic, I’ve never felt more secure or satisfied in my career. Thanks again for helping me see the value in my experiences, and communicate that to potential employers. I still read your blog every day, and I’ve been told my cover letters and follow-up notes have been instrumental in landing me interviews and offers.

4. What’s up with this terrible assessment test? (#5 at the link)

As I mentioned very late in the comments this was for one of those trampoline/activity center franchises and I’d decided I wasn’t going to accept any offers due to Da Bomb and Trampolines R Us’s other nearby location recently losing a lawsuit for failure to pay overtime. Surprise, surprise, I have yet to hear back from them.

But here’s the best part! A few months later, I was driving by Trampolines R Us with my son, who is in his early 20s. Son asked if I’d ever applied there, since I had talked about it. I said, “Yes, and it was so weird I even wrote to Ask A Manager about it!” (I’ve mentioned AAM to him a few times.) I told him the whole story. When I got to “The questions had ‘I’m Da Bomb!’ as an option,” Son got a look of mixed Pain/Shock/Horror/Disgust on his face. He visibly winced, too. I thought, “Now I know what Alison must have looked like when she read my email.”

Update to the update: I just got that much-needed second job, at the newest restaurant in a fast casual chain. It’s not a “Top 10” job for me — but at least nobody, at any point, has asked if “I’m da bomb”! I made very sure at this interview to remember your advice that you don’t have to fill up every silence or keep talking once you’ve said what needs to be said. I used pretty much the same answers as always to similar questions, but made sure I kept them short and to the point. I think it helped.

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. Sir Freelancelot*

    Op 2, if wearing the mask is uncomfortable because it “fogs” your glasses (what’s the English term for when you breathe and your glasses are covered in your breath fog?) it means you’re not wearing the mask well. When you put it on, press it against your nose first, then go right following the edge of the mask and pressing it against the skin, same on the other side of your face. Sorry for my awful English and best of luck!

    1. J*

      Your English is great, and “fog” is the right term in this context. However, as someone who wears glasses, I’ve found that some masks are just impossible to seal in the way you describe. I don’t find wired masks to be a guarantee in this regard, either. In some ways, they’re worse because the make the opening smaller and therefore the air flows more forcefully up and out of the mask and under my glasses.

      I’ve had my best luck using fashion tape along the top line of the mask and adhering it to my face that way. It’s comfortable and non-irritating for multiple hours at a go, but I don’t know how my skin will hold up when I start needing to wear it full time.

      1. Cinnamon*

        I don’t have glasses but this is a great idea! One of my comfiest masks starts to slip after wearing it for a while and then it’s either adjust it and risk cross contamination or looking like an idiot who doesn’t know how to wear a mask.

      2. TardyTardis*

        I Heard This On The Internet, and have not tried it yet, but supposedly a very thin film of clear liquid soap applied to the glasses helps with the fogging problem.

    2. AIM*

      Some masks aren’t well-made enough to create the kind of seal you’re describing here. Even the actual procedure masks I wear at work don’t have a nose wire that’s moldable enough to keep my glasses from fogging, personally. Add in that the LW may be having to use a cloth mask and that their work in physical in nature (heavier breathing, things shifting around more…) and I doubt it’s just a matter of the LW not having tried hard enough to wear their mask ‘correctly.’

      1. New Normal*

        Can confirm. I can sew so I’ve made my own masks and it’s an art to get one, even custom-made as mine are, to work with my glasses. For me the ones that work are contoured (curved seam down the center; DH calls them codpieces since that’s what they rather resemble) with no pleats and a wire at the nose to hold it close. I’ve had equal luck with both binding the top with flannel (makes it that much harder for the air to go that way rather than the sides) and firmer, thicker fabric better fitted to my face. Oh, and a lower nose ‘rise’ (for lack of a better term). I traded masks with a friend for some different fabric options and his cover more of the face and are faster to sew but the nose rise came up so high it worked like a pipe shooting my breath up under the bridge of my glasses.

        Point being, masks exist that don’t fog glasses and are relatively comfortable (my ADHD gives me moderate sensory issues and I can wear my masks all day with minimal distraction – which is more than I can say for most jewelry, socks, clothing with cuffs… ). They’re just not the ones you’ll get for free or even cheap. However you really just need two if you wash it in the sink when you get home so a good one’s certainly worth a bit of an investment.

        1. Resting easier now*

          I’ve also made masks with wire nose pieces, a pair of darts for better contour, and extra flannel or knit fabric under that to absorb exhalation. It worked fairly well after also experimenting with tying the straps in different positions on my head to find the most effective. My partner also wears a cap on his head to hold the straps in place.
          I wash the masks at the end of the day by pouring boiling water in a metal bowl and leaving them immersed for 5-10 minutes since I read high heat does a good job of destroying the virus.

      2. Anon for this*

        Right. A hospital or equivalent that requires perfect mask fit, will (ideally, maybe not now when they’re so short) do fittings to make sure everyone has the sizes and shapes that fit their face correctly. But us regular people don’t even get to try on our masks for size because that’s unsanitary, and unless we’re good at sewing, we just have to make do with what’s available and get it to fit as best as we can.

    3. Lyudie*

      I have not tried it myself yet, but I have heard you can fold a tissue and put it between your nose and the mask. The tissue will absorb the moisture from your breath so your glasses don’t fog. I have also ready you can put shaving cream on your glasses as a sort of anti-fog coating but I am not sure how advisable that is. Given how much my specific glasses cost with all the special coatings, I would not try it personally.

      1. juliebulie*

        Shaving cream should be harmless to your special coatings. (Spit is also an anti-fog coating, now that you mention it. And maybe rubbing alcohol?)

        But the folded tissue trick sounds great! I’ve had a lot of trouble with fogging and I don’t want to fiddle with my mask once it’s on. This sounds like a simple remedy.

        1. Lyudie*

          Oh good to know! After dropping a few hundred bucks on my newest pair (yay progressive lenses and fancy coatings!) I am a little paranoid about them lol. I hope the tissue trick works for you, as I said I haven’t tried it myself yet but some folks I follow on Twitter have had success with it.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I can’t not comment on this…. spit probably shouldn’t be on the outside of your mouth during a pandemic. Yes only you are touching your glasses. But if you forget and re-treat them during the day you’re going to horrify people.
          (Yes I’ve done this with my snorkel mask & swim goggles, but not in a pool because I don’t want to be swimming in someone else’s spit so I assume they wouldn’t want to swim in mine. Chlorine or no chlorine.)

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Spit!!! of course!!! I spit on my swimming goggles before I put them on, so why not my glasses? Hmm except you have to then wipe the lenses to be able to see well… Worth a try at least.

      2. Ashley*

        I currently work in a hospital and do this, though we get new surgical masks every day. I sanitize my hands and use a clean tissue as a work space: fold up the tissue, staple on each side on the seam. It puffs out enough to create a perfect fit in a less than perfect situation.

      3. Florp*

        I was on a backpacking trip last year and had a problem with fogging glasses because I am a sweaty, sweaty girl. A very kind woman in a Walmart optical shop sold me some Cat Crap (no, really, that’s it’s name) that solved the problem. It was originally made for ski and swim goggles.

    4. Patricia*

      Wash your glasses with soap and water and dry them. Supposedly the soap helps to stop the fogging (have not tried this just passing on what I read)
      Also you can try to get fabric face masks with wire at the top and then you can pinch the wire to fit and it won’t fog up your glasses.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I wash my glasses with soap and water every morning because I don’t like spots. Unfortunately, it’s never done me any good in terms of fogging. A well fitting seal at the nose is key. If my glasses are warm, it better, but that depends on environment. I am a doctor and there are a few brands of surgical masks that work better than anything else. They are the ones with a nose wire and then either foam or a thin plastic membrane at the top part of the mask. Both improve the seal and redirect exhaled air. Obviously, this isn’t an easy solution for someone who doesn’t have access to a well-stocked operating room’s worth of supplies, but incorporating a similar idea into a homemade mask might help.

        1. Jackalope*

          I used to work at an aquarium and the lead there told me that in order to keep condensation off the tanks they had to have super soapy water on them that wasn’t wiped off, just left to dry. I found that it worked well for the tanks and for swimming goggles, so it might work for glasses too. The downside of course is that you might have soap streaks on your glasses, but if you’re wearing them all day with a mask it may be better than fog depending on your personal preference.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve heard that alcohol can damage some plastic lens coatings. :(
        Here’s hoping we have an optician or two in the commentariat!

        1. Alas rainy again*

          It does! Alcohol ruined the anti-shine coating of my brand new expensive glasses! Ok, it was fifteen years ago and coating technology might have evolved, but I don’t risk it anymore. (and yes, I have since bought new glasses)

    5. Vecerin*

      Also making sure that your glasses sit on top of your mask, like on the fabric, helps with the fogging as well!

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      Also, the more active you are, the more likely your mask will shift. I understand OP’s dilemma and could not imagine wearing a mask for 8+ hours a day. The news is finally starting to report of the side effects of wearing masks for long periods – discomfort, exertion, difficulty breathing, skill irritation.

    7. professor*

      cloth masks often don’t have anything to press to hold it in place on your nose….

      1. Alas rainy again*

        In that case, you can custom sew one of those wires that close tea/coffee bags, fancy sweets bags etc.

      2. Mookie*

        Many are large enough/customizable/intended to fit a secondary, painter’s-style mask underneath, which helps create a better seal functionally, but may not contribute in practice to any additional risk reduction. Quite helpful for the bespectacled, small-headed adults amongst us *points to self*

    8. Echo*

      What I’ve found is that you can use your glasses themselves to “seal” the mask to your face, especially if it’s a basic cloth mask that won’t stay pressed against your skin on its own. Put the mask on before your glasses, then put your glasses on top of the mask so that the nosepiece of the glasses is pressing down on the mask. You might have to wear your glasses further down your nose than you’re used to, but I’ve found it completely eliminates the fogging problem.

    9. Them Boots*

      I wear glasses and, yes, they can fog up. I also have a pretty physical job and bending down, lifting, etc. One thing to do, in addition to the above, is if the mask is slipping and it’s an over-ear loop, is twist the earloops so they criss-cross (saw a client who’s a surgical vet do this). So the elastic on the top of the mask goes below the ear & vice versa. The breath ability of some masks is higher than others. Sawdust masks/home improvement types have poor breathability to me, while the non-surN95 surgical style ones don’t give me difficulties with catching my breath while working. Also, I’ve personally found the fabric ones that are styled like the surgical masks a la MASH (TV show) are really comfortable and can be secured tight enough for glasses—of which at least one character actually wore during surgeries during the show. Good luck!!

    10. justfyi*

      In addition to the suggestions here, I’ve had success folding up a kleenex lengthwise so it is long and skinny (about 1 cm across), pressing that across the bridge of my nose and under my eyes, then putting my cloth mask on over it.

  2. Ruthless Bunny*

    If you are looking for a new career and you like computer work, look into salesforce.com.

    There are tons of free tutorials through the company website.

    I started as an admin after my industry imploded in 2008. Now I’m a consultant for a tech company.

    I added Scrum Master certification and I love my “new” career!

    I’m in my fifties

    1. SongbirdT*


      I built my entire career on Saleforce. I’ve been in the ecosystem for more than a decade, have only a HS diploma, and earn a salary beyond my wildest imagination. If you’re wondering if this is some crazy MLM scheme, no. I work for a Fortune 500 company with traditional salary and benefits.

      All of the training you need is available online for absolutely free. You pay for certifications, but they’re not unreasonable. And there’s really, genuinely no catch.

  3. Mama Bear*

    LW#2, try a different style of mask or an “ear protector” that you can get online or 3D print if you have the ability. It will hold the ear elastic behind your head. I find they help a lot in keeping a mask up and making it more comfortable for your face. Try pinching the nose to fit and putting the glasses on top.

    1. J*

      If LW is a headband wearing sort: I’ve had rubbish luck with those ear protectors that go behind your head (they just slide down to the nape of my neck and pull the mask straps low across my ears), but great success with cloth headbands with buttons sold on. This is super easy to do if you’re handy with a needle, or companies are selling them too. I bought mine from a small home business that makes and sells headbands– she’s got cute stuff and has started adding buttons free of charge if asked.

        1. J*

          Right?! Complete game changer in my life. My right ear (always the right) used to just ache within minutes of putting on a mask. Now I no longer dread it.

          Rybandz is the company I bought mine from, which is hopefully okay to say here. I’m in no way affiliated and had never even heard of her before a few weeks ago. I’m ordering more to send to my friends who are medical professionals.

    2. LW 2*

      I have definitely been pinching the nose bridge and putting my glasses on top! The problem is, no matter how well I have it set up. the sweating, heavy breathing and movement makes things go awry fast. The shape of my face means that the wire also sits right under my eyes and it is awful. I have tr

      1. LW 2*

        Oops, it glitched and sent too soon. I have tried several different masks and they all have the same problem. I also constantly feel like I can’t get a proper breath. Masks aren’t really compatible with the type of work I do but I don’t think I have a choice.

        1. Mookie*

          I also do the kind of labor that makes anything less than a well-tailored mask uncomfortable, consistently distracting and therefore often unsafe, so I hear you. I prioritize tweaking all gear to satisfy fixing the latter and end up with facial welts, eyeglasses damage, and the breathlessness I imagine a lot of front line workers, definitely a physically laborious job with much greater health risks, have to endure. I thank the lard I get the privilege they don’t of working mostly outdoors-ish with better ventilation. Good luck to you!

      2. Retail not Retail*

        Oh LW 2 I thought you were me for a little because I’ve had a sore throat.

        We don’t have to wear it ALL day just any time the public may see us. So we take breaks behind the scenes to breathe.

        Tomorrow high of 90 and high humidity. Can I make a mask of ice?

        1. Em*

          Current desert dweller here. I got tired of fighting with my kids to keep their masks on during walks – they kept taking them off because it was “too hot.” We made them the kind of mask with a pocket inside designed to hold a disposable filter. We pop one of those very little ice packs for kids’ bumps & bruises inside the pocket and shove it to the side so they can breathe. The kids are much cooler and leave their masks on. It would probably work with those little plastic reusable ice cubes too.

  4. Van Wilder*

    Alison – I would love a whole post on mid-life career changes! Especially if people are willing to share their specific fields.

    I tried to quit accounting and become a TV writer around age 29 and found that I was already too old, given the competitive field and the fact that I wanted to start a family, which I have since done. I’ve progressed in my accounting career and have found some intellectual satisfaction but I still fantasize about doing something more interesting or glamorous.

      1. mcfizzle*

        Good thing you said it, because I apparently can’t. At least, not well. At all. :)


    1. Bowserkitty*

      Too old at 29 for tv writing!?!?!?! Oh my goodness…that is shocking to me!!

  5. Goyangi*

    Hey, OP#1! I left consulting in my 30s after having the exact same experience as you — I’m sick of this bs, can’t take it anymore, and can’t stand the thought of doing it for the rest of my career… but at the same time (due to the specific type of consulting I was doing) not really being qualified to do anything else for anywhere near the salary I was getting paid. The TL;DR is that I took a huge pay cut to take a more junior position doing something that was kind of tangentially related to my consulting experience, but was able to get back to my consulting base salary (if not the bonus) within 2 years of leaving. My friends who stayed in consulting are of course making more than me, but they’ll be doing the same thing the rest of their career, whereas I have some options now.

    Happy to answer any specific questions!

  6. MissGirl*

    OP1, I worked in book publishing for a number of years, which I loved but got tired of the low pay and decreasing job options. I went back to school full time for my MBA. My plan was to focus on marketing in the outdoor industry (my other passion), but saw some of the same problems there (lots of people with passion competing for low paying jobs).

    My counselors told me that there was more opportunity in marketing analytics and I made that my focus. By the time I graduated, I figured there was no point in limiting myself to an industry or just marketing and went after all types of analytic jobs.

    I ended up in healthcare data analytics. It’s not exactly the dream job I had envisioned but I was finally able to buy a new car and a home of my own. I paid off my student loans in two years and will crack the six-figure income this year (crossing my fingers about COVID). I graduated three years ago this month.

    Tips for you are: Figure out your broad skills and how to translate them to other fields. I use my graphic design background for data visualizations. I love putting together puzzles and see data as a giant puzzle. Do not lock yourself into an industry or job. I was bored to death my first six months, but once I started to learn the ins and outs of healthcare, it became fascinating. Take calculated risks (do the calculation before the risk). Tell yourself you are capable of more and don’t let fear guide you.

  7. A Former Canvass Director*

    LW #3: I’m not 100% certain, but I suspect I accepted the job you turned down (a few years later). I quit after 3 months, it was awful. While I don’t regret working that summer, since it helped me build up savings (I was living with my parents), the hours were miserable and not at all worth what we were making. I’m glad you skipped that experience!

    1. OP3*

      That company was basically snapping up 2009/2010 undergrads with liberal arts degrees, so I’m not surprised! So glad you got to leave. My job offer would have required a cross-country move to a place where I had no network or family, and also required me to buy a car. Would have financially devastated me, no question.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      My friend took a series of similar canvassing/nonprofit jobs during the recession. It was a disaster. It was a parade of toxic workplaces where a group of people in their early 20s were grossly underpaid and expected to exclusively live, date, and socialize with their coworkers. Between the toxic workplaces and oddball resume he built, and the toxic relationships he had while in there, it took him several years to get back to normal adult functioning. It destroyed him.

  8. Kyrielle*

    LW2 – if you tolerate adhesive well, a little medical tape at the top of the mask around the nose/cheekbone area might keep it in place as far as riding up/down, and also reduce the amount of breath channeled up into your glasses. It would, however, presumably make removing the mask a bit trickier/less pleasant.

  9. Beth*

    Another career-changer here: I started out in my Dream Career, which was artistic and exciting and horribly paid and turned out to have nasty toxic work dynamics. I left in my late 30s, went back to school at a really good community college and studied non-artistic things (business and computers).

    After a couple of very wobbly years, I lucked into an entry-level position in an industry where I was able to thrive. Within a couple of years, I was making four times my former income (I was REALLY badly paid before); I’m now doing very well indeed. Best of all, I took all that useful experience in dealing with toxic workplaces and have made excellent use of it ever since.

    It helped a lot that I lucked out genetically: I was job-hunting in my 40s, but I look at least 10 years younger than my real age.

  10. GrumpyGnome*

    LW1 – I’m 37 and making a career change now. I can’t tell you the results yet, but I’m happy to share my thoughts, plan, and progress so far.

    I don’t have the means to quit my job and attend school full time. I am switching from the insurance industry into the healthcare industry (decided pre-COVID and I’m now even more committed to doing so). I found a school that offers a 2 year degree for surgical technology. A number of my initial classes are online or evenings and my workplace going to let me adjust my schedule for those upcoming evening classes. I can then ease into the degree. By next fall, I’ll have to begin taking classes during the day that will make working my current job much more difficult, then eventually impossible. However, by then I will be laid off; the company had announced staged reductions in my area pre-COVID. I’m in the last wave of lay-offs, which will happen first quarter next year. We will receive a (pretty generous) severance as well as discounted health insurance for the length of time of our severance. Between now and then, I’m saving all the extra money I can so that I can finish my last three semesters with either no job or a part-time job. So in a way, the layoffs are perfect timing for me and will smooth my transition in a way that I would not have if I quit.

    My decision-making process involved talking to my best friend. She is a NICU RN and first suggested surg tech as an option; she knows me well and this is perfect for me. I can work overnights, I can help people, and I’ve assisted in numerous veterinary surgeries in a previous job and discovered it was something I really enjoyed. So my advice is to examine what motivates you, the skills you possess, even do what I’m doing and look at jobs that allow you follow your natural circadian rhythm instead of forcing yourself into a different sleep cycle. Talk to the people that know you well – is there something that they absolutely see you doing, that you would be great at? Look at what is available for school if needed – is there an accredited, reputable, affordable school in your future career that you can take online, partly or wholly? Will your workplace be flexible if you need to take in-person classes that could conflict with your schedule? Can you get student loans or pay for it outright? If you’re still slow at work, would your manager be ok with you working on schoolwork in your downtime? Those are questions I’d look at asking, and I wish you all the best of luck!

  11. Pearl*

    OP#2 – I was having issues with my glasses slipping down on my mask and have started using an eyewear retainer – usually for sports and outdoors activities but great at keeping my glasses on my face. Looks kinda dorky but better than the shuffle of trying to keep your glasses on your face while trying to not touch your face.

  12. CatCat*

    I admit to thinking about #4 when I applied for a job recently and wishing deep down inside that I could somehow include something about me being “the bomb dot com.” Of course I did NOT, but it was hilarious to imagine.

  13. Anon today*

    I am just starting out on a midlife career change. I’ll be 40 in December. My husband finally is earning enough to cover a large enough bill portion so we can swing me stepping WAY back, and I realized I hate working with numbers over people. I was already miserable at my job, and this virus made sure to show me even more how miserable I was. After having a nervous breakdown over a projections report for a toxic boss, I basically said screw it, I’m over it. Well, actually my husband told me to quit, or he’d quit for me.
    I reached out to a couple support systems around me, enrolled in prerequisites for the local CC nursing program, figured out career trajectories and long term goals and started applying for jobs at half my original salary or less to help fund nursing school and get my feet wet again. I had my CNA license in High school but let it lapse because so many people convinced me I’d be sooo much happier and better off financially in business degrees instead. I’m posting this anon because I’m still with old employer until I find something else or get pushed too far off the deep end. But I have a phone interview on Tuesday for an overnight admittance position. Fingers crossed!

  14. But There is a Me in Team*

    LW#1: I pivoted twice in my 40’s- missed the original career so now I’m back in it but with different daily duties. I volunteered my way into both my careers, 1 in criminal justice and 1 teaching immigrants. Not an option in the private sector, but even if you are a private sector person, is there a govt agency or non-profit you can start volunteering for to build connections? Also, I had a heavy emphasis in cover letter and interviews about transferable skills and common threads between my interests, which at first blush don’t seem to go together. Good luck! Let us know how you do.

  15. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    LW2 no advice, just a great deal of sympathy since I’ve heard masks can be very difficult for people with sensory issues.
    LW3 I’m so glad your career is going well, fellow database person. :)

    1. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

      As a high risk person with severe ADHD and extensive sensory issues, I view it this way: no matter how awful wearing a mask feels, wearing a ventilator most certainly feels far, FAR worse.

  16. Quickbeam*

    Hi poster #1…you asked for career change stories. I was a Masters degreed professional in a criminal justice field. I liked the work but it paid very poorly in one of the highest cost of living areas in the country. It had a strict residency requirement which meant staying in an area I could never hope to own a home. Plus at 30 I was getting married and there were zero work opportunities for my spouse.

    So I chucked the career and pension for nursing school. I’ve now been an RN for over 30 years. It provided me the portability I needed and a variety of work. Everyone told me I was insane. We live in a lower cost part of the country which has been a tremendous stress reducer.

    I tell people who ask that I have no regrets. I did have to work later in life because career change can interrupt your retirement savings. But it was worth it.

  17. Siege*

    OP #2, I also have OCD and I’ve been through that thought process so. many. times. in the past several months. It’s like we’re trying to follow all the rules exactly, and its so hard but some people aren’t trying at all and its infuriating. I don’t have any advice, really, just solidarity.

    For those who are having issues with masks fogging up your glasses, my mom swears by putting a tissue (fully) underneath your mask. It absorbs the moisture before it can reach your glasses. I’ve also had luck using the bridge of my glasses to secure a cloth face mask in place.

  18. RB*

    I know I said this before but I love the 10-year updates. It’s like a time-lapse photograph into someone’s career. I also really liked the update where the mom discussed AAM with her son. She is getting the next generation started on AAM early, and that will bode well for their career.

  19. Swishy-fins*

    OP 1: another mid-life career change story for you. In 2014, I moved my young family across the country to take what I thought was going to be a next-step up job in a career field for which I had spent 12 years training for (in the cultural sector—had extensive graduate and post-grad training). Early on in my tenure I realized I had made a terrible mistake. My boss was horrible and it was clear that I had no real future in this position. Moreover, there were no other opportunities to be had within a 2.5 hour radius of my home, so I decided to stick it out. I was miserable for the next three years…until the boss decided to lay me off. I decided not to look for similar positions as that would have required another long-distance move. At first, I mourned leaving a field for which I had spent so many years training and working. Then I decided to make lemonade—I started my own consulting business, did that for 2+ years, and last winter started a new job in career services at the same university where I had worked previously, and at pretty much the same salary. Love my new boss, coworkers, and the work. And so grateful to have a relatively stable job during this stressful time. (If I had stayed in my previous field that would not have been a given.)
    I came out of a field where most people stay in their career paths for life, often at the same institution, so there aren’t many role models for mid-life re-invention. But I was able to demonstrate how my skills and my consulting experience made me a great fit for my current position, and I got the job. It’s possible! Good luck!!

  20. Apricot*

    OP #1, I am a career-changer in my 30s and my first comment on AAM is for you! I went from education/academia to software engineering. I started by teaching myself with free online resources in my downtime at work. Then I moved to a new city and started volunteering with a local group for women in tech, even though I wasn’t in tech yet, and that turned out to be the key for me personally. I’m shy and I get very anxious in social/networking situations where I don’t know anyone, so this move ensured that I had a built-in set of friends and a topic (our org) to discuss at all the events we hosted. We also partnered with other organizations or just went to their events as a group, so I got to meet a lot of people in my desired industry locally – including the owner/founder of a coding boot camp, with whom I worked out an arrangement to attend the boot camp at a steep discount. If you have the time, I can’t recommend volunteering enough! I made friends in my new city, valuable connections in my new field that led to my eventual full-time employment in it, and got to sample/learn a lot about the career I was aiming for to make sure it would be a good fit. I wish you all the best in making that transition to a role you truly do love!

  21. MN granny*

    Hi LW 1! I started my career life as a music teacher. Jobs were tough to hold on to in my area as many schools were facing budget cuts yearly, and in my state, when teachers needed to be cut, it was last hired first let go. I was so dismayed at the last school I worked at as both the principal and superintendent told me I had done a fantastic job but they had to let someone go, and so it was me. The teacher who got to stay was one that….had little control over her classroom…. A friend of mine told me to find a job doing anything to stay around because they would realize the needed me back. This community had less than 750 people, so the options were quite limited. As a single parent, I was desperate. So I applied and was hired for a job in housekeeping in the community hospital/nursing home. Did I like this job? I did not. However, it paid my bills, so I stuck with it. The school never did ask me back; they ended up with even more cuts the following years. But. I stuck with this job while trying to figure out what I should do next. It was while working in housekeeping that I found out I had the ability to connect with people of all ages, and especially loved visiting and helping residents in the nursing home. After a few years, I took the CNA class that was offered locally, and started to work as a CNA. I loved it! I also ended up moving back to my also very small hometown to help care for my grandmother and started working mainly at the little hospital there. I learned so much and was able to care for so many patients. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would enjoy working in medicine, but in the end I did! A few years after my grandmother passed away, I moved to a much larger (200,000+) community. I found a job at one of the hospitals in town working on one of the surgical floors-it was great! However, all those years of working as a CNA really did a number on my back. So I did a season of tax preparing and started working at a different hospital working as a phlebotomist. I also loved this job, but still-hard on the back. So I have now transitioned to working in the call center (right?) fielding calls answering questions and scheduling appointments. I have been at this hospital for over 8 years now, was able to move to working full-time from home last summer, and am doing my best to maintain sanity during the pestilence and support my coworkers and the patients who call. Now, I’m not getting rich by any means, but that has never been important to me. I am able to live comfortably and have the ability to spend time on my hobbies and interests. So, is it possible to do drastic career changes mid life? Yes, I am living proof and I am 59. In each job I have ever had, I work to the best of my ability to be outstanding in whatever it is. And I have found, at least for me, what I was doing was less important than being able to work in a non-toxic, supportive atmosphere where I could grow as a human being. I used to agonize thinking about what it was I wanted to do and trying to figure out HOW to figure that out. In the end, I have not changed the world, but I know for a fact, from the patients I have met up with later, that I did change their lives for the better. And for me that is enough.

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