spending hours on thank-you notes, employer froze our vacation time, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it worth spending hours on post-interview thank-you notes?

Both you and your commenters often say about thank-you notes, “Why not spend five minutes on something that could impact your chances?” or “There’s just no reason not to do this very small, very quick thing that could impact your chances” or “It’s ten minutes, so send the damn thing.”

What if they *don’t* take five (or ten) minutes? What if they take literally three hours? What if they are *not* “a quick thing”? Where is the line beyond which it is no longer worth a job-seeker’s time to be struggling to create a thank-you note?

(Written in a fit of frustration upon learning my Aspie husband has been spending three or more hours each just to end up with generic-sounding thank-you notes — interfering with family time, grocery shopping at the right time to avoid covid shortages, and even storm prep time. Also I’m now trying to help him with them, and though I’m not on the spectrum, I *am* an introvert with social anxiety, so trying to help him improve them also takes *me* way more than five minutes. It takes me more like 30 minutes each…after he’s spent the three hours.)

Oh my goodness, let’s release him (and you) from this torture! Thank-you notes are useful to do, but not if they mean agonizing for three hours. He should write one basic, generic note and just use it repeatedly for all interviews from this point forward. In fact, use one he’s already done as his model so there’s little left to do from here.

Yes, it’s better if these aren’t perfunctory and if they’re customized to the job. But it’s not the end of the world if he can’t do that. Are there advantages to writing customized thank-you’s that build on the interview conversation? Yes! There are also advantages to degrees from prestigious schools and to knowing the CEO’s kids. That doesn’t mean everyone must have those advantages; we each use what we’ve got, which won’t be everything.

If it were just taking him a little longer (like 20 or 30 minutes), I’d say it was still worth him doing. But three hours, no. That much agony, no.

And while sending a generic note isn’t ideal, it’s better than nothing — and it should satisfy the occasional manager who’s a thank-you note tyrant and penalizes people who don’t send them at all.

2. Employer has frozen our vacation time

I work for a higher education institution. As a cost-saving measure, my employer announced that we would not be accruing vacation for June and July. They just announced that this would be extended for the full 2020-2021 academic year. We can still accrue sick leave and use any previously accrued vacation, but we will not earn any additional vacation hours at this time. Am I crazy for thinking this is absolutely absurd? Is this legal?

Legal* but absurd. People need breaks from work. Even if your employer wants to be totally machiavellian about it, it’s in their best interests to give people time off because otherwise they’ll burn out — it will impact people’s productivity, work quality, initiative, and overall morale.

* In states that consider vacation time to be wages earned, they couldn’t do this retroactively, but they could do it going forward.

3. How can I “spread the wealth” of informational interviews?

I’m a mid-career woman in a somewhat specialized field. My boss is well-known and connected within our field, so she frequently gets asked to do informational interviews with young people aspiring to our field and she usually passes them on to me.

Here’s the thing: most of the young people who request informational interviews look … the same. Privileged backgrounds, fancy degrees, leaning heavily on parental professional networks to make connections (lots of emails that say “so-and-so from the XYZ Institute, a family friend, suggested that I contact you…”). Not always a white person, but definitely mostly white.

I want to make myself available for informational interviews to recent grads who don’t have the same resources. I feel like by doing these informational interviews just based on who knocks on our door I’m exacerbating a gap between the people who feel entitled to ask for one (or who have advisors or parents telling them to ask), and those who don’t. Any suggestions on how to make informational interviews more fair? Or make it known to more diverse candidates that I’d be happy to talk to them?

What about reaching out to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and offering to talk to any students they have who are interested in your field? Also, a lot of schools now have offices of diversity and inclusion, and you could contact them as well. You also could also see if your boss would be up for including something on your website making it clear these conversations are available (so people aren’t just getting access to them if they know someone who knows someone). That could result in a much higher volume of interest than you can handle, but if that’s the case you could even do something like a monthly conference call that anyone who’s interested can sign up for.

Readers, what other suggestions do you have?

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Can I change my mind about a job I said I wasn’t interested in?

I was laid off due to COVID from an accounting-adjacent job that I didn’t LOVE at a company that doesn’t really live up to its reputation in my field (hospitality). I had been planning on leaving to go back to working in restaurants to get closer to working more directly in the wine industry, my real passion. Last month, I found an accounting/finance job that is not totally what I had envisioned for my career, but with a corporate wine company I really admire. I was poking around on LinkedIn and after I viewed the profile of the director of product, she sent me a message asking me to email her with my resume and what I am interested in doing next. Great!

I went through my resume one last time, sent it out with a brief description of what I am looking for next — something like a junior product manager — and she asked for me to confirm that I wasn’t interested in the accounting job I had seen posted. I said no, but honestly, with the hospitality industry the way it is, I am interested now. I have some experience with accounting (internships, bookkeeping work at other jobs) and would now be happy to pivot to that kind of work.

Yesterday, I sent an email asking if there were any updates on other roles opening up, and it turns out the accounting job is still available. Is it at all possible for me to tell them that I would be interested in being considered for this job? My gut is telling me that this would be a total no-go in normal, not pandemic times. Would I be shooting myself in the foot if I told them that I changed my mind?

Do it. There’s some risk that they’ll think you’re not really interested in the accounting job or you would have said so originally, but that wouldn’t leave you worse off than not applying for it at all. You could explain you have accounting experience, are interested in their company, and would like to throw your hat in the ring for the role if they think it might be a good fit.

That said, there’s a chance that if they put you on that track, they won’t consider you as strongly for the product manager roles you’re more interested in, even if you make it clear you’re open to both. So you’ve got to factor that into your thinking, and there’s no perfect answer here, but given the state of the job market I’d still go for it.

5. Using my personal laptop while working from home

When work-from-home started in March, I volunteered to use my personal laptop for work. I didn’t want to have to go into the office to pick up firm-issued equipment. My manager was fine with this. Now that we’re still working from home with no end in sight, I’ve started to feel uncomfortable using my personal equipment for this long. I’m concerned about the wear and tear of it being used eight hours a day, five days a week.

I am nervous to bring this up to my manager for a few reasons: First, I volunteered to use my own equipment. Second, there have been massive budget cuts and I am concerned about layoffs. I don’t want to appear to not look like a team player and I don’t want to cost the firm money if they have to buy equipment for me. Frankly, I was surprised they allowed for me to use my own equipment since we’re a global law firm with very tight security on everything. Am I being stupid for not bringing it up?

You should bring it up. Just be straightforward and say, “Now that we’ve been working from home for a while, is it possible to get a work laptop to use? I’ve been using my personal laptop but prefer not to do that long-term because of the wear and tear of so much heavy use.”

After all, what would your office do if your personal laptop started to fail? They’d presumably need to get you a work computer at that point, not order you to personally buy yourself a new computer. (Some jobs do require you to use your own computer but it’s generally announced from the start.) In fact, if you’re concerned your manager won’t be reasonable about this, you might be better off just explaining that your personal laptop is showing signs of age and ask about a work-provided replacement “before this one fails.”

{ 316 comments… read them below }

  1. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW2, I agree with Alison that you should get days off. Higher ed is going through a really difficult financial period right now and the choice is generally either shared payroll pain or massive layoffs.

    My institution is doing furloughs—10% pay cut and 10% fewer hours (e.g., a day off every pay period), for the next year. Your institution’s plan isn’t actually going to save payroll expense—just make you work more hours. Unless when people quit they’ll need whoever is left to work more hours to fill the gaps. I’m sorry, that’s going to suck.

    1. Courtney*

      The 10% pay cut, 10% few hours sounds like a fairly good compromise. I hope people can afford the pay cut :( but on the surface it sounds like it’ll be a good way to keep jobs, etc.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        They’ve actually been great about establishing a lower income cutoff, graduated tiers at lower-mid levels, 10% for the mid-range, and higher cuts for higher earners. It’s going to be tight for me, but I really appreciate a) lower chance of layoff, b) keeping insurance and other benefits, and c) institutional insistence that we are NOT to work on our furlough days; departments must figure out how to just do less.

        1. Perbie*

          Out institution leadership took a 20% paycut, those making over 100k a 10% cut, plus furloughs… i know they asked for volunteers for furloughs, not sure if they all ended up voluntary though. Also reductions in retirement contributions.
          There have also been clear updates that this is supposed to be temporary and once the covid deficit is recovered they plan to go back to prior levels. Last update was a few weeks ago that we are on track to recover by the end of the year.

          1. anon in MD*

            My institution also offered early retirement to faculty (though not staff, for some reason?) and the president increased his own pay cut from an initial 10% to 20%. Plus all VPs took a paycut at the start of the pandemic, though they didn’t release how much. We’re only now moving to paycuts for the rest of the employees, with anyone above $50k getting an as-yet undisclosed cut.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              If you’re at a public university, the faculty might be in a traditional pension plan that the staff aren’t, and likely would take less of a pay cut upon retirement.

      2. prof*

        I mean, that beats what most do, which is just cut your pay and fully expect the exact same work to get done….

    2. AnotherSarah*

      Yes—how will OP’s institution save money, assuming people simply just don’t take vacation? This makes no sense to me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The official answer is likely to be so they don’t pay temp to cover your work. The behind the scenes reason is also just as likely: accrued vacation time has to be paid out when someone leaves the company.
        This came up when my company capped the amount of vacation time that could be accrued.

        1. Non-prophet*

          Yes, this. Unfortunately, if OPs institution is considering large layoffs, they might be trying to limit the size of the accrued vacation payout. Even if OPs institution is not considering layoffs, accrued vacation is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet. It impacts their overall financial position, which is especially important if they are seeking financing to stay afloat.

          That said, I think it’s a terrible, demoralizing way to save money. It’s pennywise but pound foolish.

          1. Tau*

            Over here in Europe, we’ve had issues involving the worry that everyone will hoard their vacation time due to Corona and then literally nobody will be working for the entire month of December. Similar problem to the “accrued vacation payout” one.

            What my company did is say that we must schedule all our vacation time for the rest of this year now, minus a few days we could keep for spontaneous things. They went through, resolved conflicts, and now everyone in the company has their 2020 vacation times nailed down. No accrued vacation problems, either re: payout or re: people suddenly spending a month off work in order not to lose it. I wasn’t super happy about it at the time, but it’s a lot better than OP’s company’s solution!

            1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

              My sisters work did a similar thing – I think more to avoid burnout as her company works in healthcare regulations which is a bit busy at the moment! They just asked that you have 10 days holiday (around a third of your holiday) booked by September (around a third of the way through their holiday year). Thus no hoarding and having to deal with everyone off at once!

            2. wittyrepartee*

              I work for the department of health in NYC, and we were worried about comp time accruing and the fact that many of us will not be able to use those hundreds of hours of comp time anytime even sort of soon.

            3. londonedit*

              It’s the same where I work – we’re only allowed to carry over five days to the next year, and they have to be used by the end of March, so everyone’s really being encouraged to use their holiday ASAP (both from an avoiding-burnout point of view and from a ‘will you please just use these damn holiday days so the entire company isn’t off in December’ point of view). A few friends have had their employers mandating that a certain percentage of holiday has to be taken before the end of September, or something similar.

        2. AnotherSarah*

          Interesting. I don’t think our institutions hires temps at all for coverage, except in the case of longer leaves.

        3. LW2*

          The “official” answer is that it’s an easy ~$800k savings. That doesn’t sit well with me and I wonder what else is going on.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Sounds like time to send out a few resumes, if you ask me–saving money on paying out accrued paid vacation seems like a thing an institution might do before scheduling layoffs.

          2. generic_username*

            It makes sense though (it’s just a terrible idea for employee morale).

            Vacation pay is a liability – they owe it to you and internally it has a cost to it. If you get paid $100/per day and earn a day of leave every 10 days (so one day every two weeks), then your “cost” for two weeks of work is $1100 (10 days of actual pay + the day of leave, which you can claim at any point including when you leave). If you aren’t earning vacation days, then your cost is only $1000 (the 10 days of work). It was an okay policy in the summer when people were likely losing out on 2-4 annual days depending on your accrual rate, but to do it for the entire year???? Who thought that was okay? (to be clear though, I’d have still bristled at cutting it for the summer, but it makes sense that they need to find savings somewhere with the current pandemic situation)

            Also, I bet that your institution will let you take unpaid days since they have enacted this policy with cost-savings in mind, and not because they’re monsters who want you to work through the end of time (assuming this decision was solely based on cost and not some misguided idea that WFH isn’t “real work”)

      2. Non-prophet*

        OP’s institution likely won’t save much money in the short term by suspending the vacation time earned. However, accrued vacation is considered a liability since it has to be paid out when employees leave. The institution is likely concerned about controlling the size of the liabilities on their balance sheet (important if they need to seek financing to stay afloat through the coming year). It’s also possible that they are trying to keep the vacation liability lower in case they need to do a large layoff at some point…in which case they would be required to pay out all that accrued time.

        I agree that it’s a terrible, demoralizing way to save money. I’m not defending it. But that’s probably the rationale.

        1. LW2*

          Yeah, I responded to someone else’s comment saying that the “official” answer is that it’s an easy ~$800k savings. That doesn’t sit well with me and I wonder what else is going on.

      3. Firecat*

        I know when my org did the same thing, it was because PTO is a liability on the books from am accounting perspective. They made people take time off (paid or otherwise) and then froze our PTO accrual.

      4. MassMatt*

        This usually comes up in questions about employers that discourage employees from actually taking their vacation time, but vacation is part of compensation. Cutting vacation time accrual is cutting compensation.

        No, the employer isn’t saving a $ amount that can be spent elsewhere, but the employees that were taking off 4 weeks a year (or whatever) will only take 3. That’s an extra week of work for each employee. Presumably a week of work has value to the employer, they are getting more work for the same $.

      5. Bethany*

        I work in Australia, don’t know how the US works.

        In Australia, annual leave is a legal entitlement. 4 weeks per year. And if you leave it gets paid out as cash. Because it’s something your employer must provide, every pay period they deposit the amount that you’ve accrued into a special business account.

        Lately we’ve been asked to take some annual leave days, and it’s to free up cash flow so that the employer doesn’t have to hold such a large amount in a dedicated account.

    3. TheX*

      I don’t see anything in the letter that would prohibit LW2 from taking vacations at any given time. Quite the opposite actually (“We can still [….] use any previously accrued vacation”). This happened to my non profit organization a decade ago when they cut 1 week of vacation for that year only. We get 4 weeks of vacation per year (5 weeks when 5+ years on the job). They clearly communicated that that reduced financial liability which affected on our ability to obtain loans during that difficult time.
      This is one of those rare times that I disagree with Alison’s advice.

      1. GrumpyGnome*

        I agree with Alison that not being able to accrue vacation is demoralizing. When people take jobs, an expectation is set as to benefits with vacation being part of that. Yes, situations in jobs change but that does not make it less frustrating. She’s also correct that people need to be able to take time away and recharge. They can still do that IF they have any vacation accrued, but if someone had used it already for something like a recent illness, they’re now looking at over a year before they can take more time without incurring a financial hit. I do understand many institutions and businesses facing tough choices, but employees can still be upset about the situation.

        1. LW2*

          @GrumpyGnome: Yes, thank you. I know many of my coworkers are scared to use what they have earned as a mental health/recharge day here and there (which is desperately needed since we’re so short staffed right now) in case something comes up that they’d need extended time off. And we have others who have little to no leave left because of things that have come up in their life.

          1. anon for this comment*

            LW2, I also work in higher ed, in a communications role, so I’ve been doing a LOT of reading about what other schools are doing during Covid. I’d encourage you to consider reaching out to Inside Higher Ed and/or Chronicle of Higher Ed if they haven’t written about this move by your institution – this is the kind of info they’re tracking. And if you can get a group of coworkers together to complain about the policy, even if it’s just an open letter sent to the administration (and also sent on BCC or separately to the news outlet(s)), you might have some luck with pushing back on the policy.

            1. LW2*

              Oooo, I like that idea of mentioning it to Chronicle and/or IHE, thank you. I don’t think I realized they tracked staff-only things like this. Our president has been on a media parade talking about how well we’re doing (and how we’ve even slashed tuition rates for some populations) so it was always in the back of my head to tell media how we’re really doing but I’m scared.

              1. Lizzo*

                They’re talking about how well things are going, yet making decisions that demoralize staff (and faculty)? That’s gross. How can those who are paying tuition expect to receive a good education and good services if employees are not treated well?

                Can you make an anonymous submission to the publications? Or is there a reporter/writer there who would be trustyworthy and could keep sources anonymous?

                1. LW2*

                  I’d love to…but I’m just so chicken to do it. And I’m scared of what dominoes would fall as a result.

        2. TheX*

          I agree with everything you said. I was only disagreeing with Alison’s assumption that the employer is not willing “to give people time off because otherwise they’ll burn out”. Those few who had used up all the vacation days and are now caught by surprise should be accommodated by borrowing against the time they would accrue from August until December.

          1. AVP*

            But they’ve extended it to the 2020-2021 school year, so that also seems like there will be no vacations at all next year, unless you can save what you have and they allow rollover in January?

            I think that’s the grating point for me – a few months is fine, but spinning out to the whole of 2021 seems like too much. If you were supposed to get three weeks off, you’re essentially working three weeks unpaid for the year.

            1. TheX*

              The way I’m reading it is LW2 looses accrual for June and July 2020 (1/6th of 2020 vacation days are lost). Depending on when 2020-2021 academic year exactly ends, they may also loose 1/6th of vacation time in the next calendar year (2021). That is horrible.
              With that being said, I don’t see where it’s implied that there will be no vacations at all this or next year.

              1. AVP*

                ohhh um I might have read it wrong! I read it as the non-accrual had extended for the full calendar year and thus no vacation would be accumulated at all, not that it would only be July and August going forward.

              2. Sam.*

                Logically speaking, if people are accruing less PTO, they’re going to be taking less vacation. So even if “no vacations” aren’t technically part of the policy, in practice it might not be too far off.

                1. TheX*

                  No doubt. In a pure for profit organization, people taking all the accrued PTO may often stick like a sore thumb. Reducing the PTO there may effectively scare people off from taking it altogether. I imagine in academia it’s likely the opposite (those who don’t take all of it get weird looks).

                  There’s no way one can possible argue that this situation is fare, but in my mind 83.33% is closer to 100% than it is to 0%.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You’re reading it wrong. They will not accrue vacation for the full 2020-2021 academic year — so presumably through May 2021. Since it started in June 2020, that’s a full year with no vacation accrual.

                1. TheX*

                  I think you’re right, Alison. Especially when LW2 elaborated on this later on. I only hope the management meant one thing, but it came out as another.

      2. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

        I think it depends on how your organization handles it and their history of handling things like this. If I worked for a smaller nonprofit (and by smaller, I mean smaller than the higher ed institution I currently work at) and I felt like the organization had a history of being transparent about decision like this, I would probably be more ok with it. If it happened at my institution, I’d be very upset because they notoriously don’t keep staff in the loop about changes. Like when they moved 3,000+ employees from exempt to non-exempt in December and told us that it was our fault if we couldn’t make a 2-week paycheck last 4 weeks. Yes, I am still bitter about how that was handled. Oh, and they gave us about a month’s warning that this would happen.

        1. LW2*

          The big thing that rubbed us the wrong way is that we were told in April that “we aren’t even thinking about thinking about furloughs because we’re in such a good place” and then in May told that we wouldn’t be accruing vacation moving forward and losing pay (and furloughing others) for two months. Even now, the president has been on a media parade declaring how good enrollment is and how well we’re doing.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Have you considered wining and dining someone in the accounting department? Yes, they will have been cautioned to keep mum about the upcoming executions, but you can tell what’s happening by how nervous they look and if there are any hollow laughs about the topic.

            1. LW2*

              Our staff association president is in that area, so we’re thinking of testing the waters with her….

    4. LW2*

      Hey, OP2 here! So some more background info about our situation:
      1) We did 10% pay cut and furloughs for June and July, along with the no vacation accrual and reduced retirement matching. The pay returned to normal and furloughed individuals returned for August, but they announced that the vacation accrual and retirement would last through the academic year. They also laid off 15 people as of August 1st (some were previously furloughed, and some weren’t).
      2) We’re all very short-staffed right now, because positions that were vacated prior to the pandemic have not been replaced – even those that reached the final stages of the search.
      3) All in all, we’re thankful to still have our jobs but frustrated that we won’t be earning vacation for a year.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        That’s awful! So non-transparent and demoralizing. They should at least let you accrue 2 weeks of vacation.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I often wonder, how much actual cash do you save by canceling vacation? I guess it’s industry and role specific.

      For almost all of my particular career, I never hired anyone to substitute for the people who worked for me, or for me. I just had to take my vacay at a time that the workload would allow. Later, I had a bigger staff with more vacation earned, and I set aside budget money to cover absences. But I never used it all, because I didn’t always hire a sub. My folks usually planned their big vacation when they knew the workload would allow it.

  2. Emily*

    #5 I definitely agree with Alison’s advice about asking for your employer to provide you with a laptop for work. I work at (a very small) law firm (office manager, not an attorney), and people aren’t allowed to use their personal computers/laptops for work. We purchased laptops for people to use solely for work. Depending on what the laptop needs to do, a decent laptop can be purchased that’s fairly inexpensive. I share your surprise that your employer allowed you to use your personal laptop as there can be all kinds of security/confidentiality concerns around that. Having a laptop strictly for work is definitely the way to go to avoid so much wear and tear on your personal laptop and to prevent security/confidentiality concerns.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Yes.The ” showing signs of age” line is a good one.
      Also, if there had been staff reductions, it is likely that the company has some laptops in stock that were returned by laid-off staff, so it would no cost much to provide you with a work laptop (mainly cleaning up and potentially reinstalling the system).

      1. Forrest*

        This is definitely the case with my cheap Lenovo home laptop–it was bought for sitting in front of the telly having chats with friends and scrolling through ebay, and it’s really not coping with having three spreadsheets, MS Teams, Skype, Outlook, four Word docs and a couple of Powerpoints open 8 hours a day!

        OP, you might have something fancier that actually can cope with business demands, but “my personal laptop wasn’t purchased with this in mind and it’s not coping” is still legit!

        1. Melissa*

          OP5 here. I think I mostly concerned the laptop they might give me is going to to be crap! My personal machine is really good. But I should really stop being chicken about asking for firm issued equipment. This has gone on too long. Thanks everyone for their support.

      2. Memily*

        That was my thought—surely if there have been layoffs then there is some additional equipment available for use. Definitely worth asking about!

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Even if it’s new, it can show signs of wear and tear. My company-issued Macbook freezes multiple times a day and has the fans on for hours, but thanks to Apple support policies it’s impossible even to add RAM. Sometimes I want to have a serious talk with the genious that decided it was a good idea to use Apple products outside the US.

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      Are you just remoting in though? We are all using personal equipment to WFH but that just entails having remote desktop installed on the computer and then remoting in to the work computer all day long.

      1. Miss Bookworm*

        This is how it is with my company (mostly*), but we remote in via a website and there is two-factor authentication to log in. The remote connection isn’t installed on my macbook at all, so it’s really not taking up any space at all. I can’t save anything from the remote connection to my macbook at all and if we aren’t active (moving the mouse, typing, clicking, etc.) then after like 10min we get signed out automatically. The only real downside is that if I have a zoom/teams/skye meeting my microphone and camera don’t work at all from the remote session. I can share my screen, but that’s it.

        *My company was not prepared for us to WFM at all. We have almost 35 employees at the moment. Five of them WFM permanently. The other 30 work from the office. We had seven work laptops for 30 people. Our inhouse IT person had been pushing for years to get more, but the head of IT kept turning down/ignoring the requests. Many of us, myself included, had to use our home equipment because there was no other option—IT couldn’t get anything. They are still having issues acquiring tech, but they managed to get an additional 10 laptops over three months and I didn’t get one. Thankfully I work from the office twice a week, but that’s still three days a week that I’m using my macbook.

      2. Melissa*

        Yes, RDP connection (remoting in). RDP software installed on my laptop at home, connects to a desktop at work. Still, while the laptop at home isn’t doing the processing, it’s still on and working for eight hours a day. Still wear it wouldn’t be getting if not WFH

    4. Anne Elliot*

      I’m not sure I understand this OP’s question, though. She or he said “When work-from-home started in March, I volunteered to use my personal laptop for work. I didn’t want to have to go into the office to pick up firm-issued equipment.” That makes it sound like there’s access to firm-issued equipment and always has been, and using the personal laptop has been an accommodation of the employee’s desire not to go pick up the work laptop and to instead use their own personal computer.

      So I’m not entirely clear on what needs to be discussed. If OP doesn’t want to use their home computer any longer, presumably (based on the wording of the question) there is firm-issued equipment that could be picked up. Is the issue that the OP is hesitant to go to the office to get it? Or needs to notify the boss that they intend to go get it?

      1. aiya*

        this is the part that I’m stuck on too… It sounds like the company had originally approved OP to bring a computer home from the office, but OP opted NOT to go into the office and pick the computer up. In that case, why would it be an issue to pick the computer up now, since the computer was originally intended for OP to bring home anyway?

        I’m thinking perhaps the computer in the office is perhaps a desktop rather than a laptop, and OP didn’t want to deal with the hassle of dragging that home? Which is why OP opted to use their personal laptop?

        1. Melissa*

          Yes, thanks. Company had originally approved for me to go in to pick up a laptop so there shouldn’t be an issue of getting one now. I did choose to avoid going in to pick it up. A theoretical machine exists for me. I think I’m concerned that what is left at this point to pick up is going to be sucky equipment. I do RDP in to my desktop machine sitting on my desk in the office. That machine is doing the heavy lifting and my laptop is just accessing that.

    5. Neef*

      Completely agree. My personal MacBook, which I bought in 2017 and thought it would last me for at least 5 years, was sent to Apple last night for repairs after I graciously agreed to use it for Covid WFH arrangements. This included 8 hrs a day/5 days a week of constant usage – spreadsheets, reports, emails, and google meet/hangouts plus anything else I wanted to do on my own time in the evenings. Guess what this would have cost me without AppleCare? $100 for the battery and $475 flat rate labor. So literally $575 that my workplace is not responsible for since it’s “my” laptop. Luckily I paid for the AppleCare (runs out Sept 1) in advance which brought the cost down to nothing. However, I am now without a laptop for one week and I will never allow my personal laptop to be used for work purposes again. I have learned my lesson!

    6. Persephone Underground*

      It also could be possible to simply take home whatever computer setup you would have been using at work, so minimal money out of the firm’s pocket, just maybe shipping or the cost of a Lyft to pick it up. Every company is handling the details differently, but there’s no reason not to ask for something work-issued now that this is looking a lot less temporary.

    7. not that kind of Doctor*

      I also started out using my personal laptop at home, back when we all thought this was temporary. Around week 5 I grew concerned for the machine’s longevity, given its age and hugely increased usage. I went back to my boss and said just that: my machine is old and I’m afraid it’s going to die, and I really need a company one. He approved a new machine, but after all the layoffs there was a spare available I could pick up almost immediately.

      There were a couple of other advantages to the company machine: it had been vetted & set up by IT so it had everything I needed, including access to my desktop, and some additional software compatibility that my personal machine didn’t have. Also it has a 10-key, and the screen is a tiny bit bigger. I’m much happier all around, and my poor personal computer isn’t already running at 1000 degrees when I want to watch a movie on it. :)

      1. Eether Eyether*

        Is there anyone in the office at all who can ship your laptop to you? In my experience, attorneys find it almost impossible not to go to the office once in a while. (Some of mine are here daily.) I am also very surprised they are letting you use your personal computer. That’s a huge red flag re client confidentiality.

        1. Melissa*

          I don’t mind going in to pick up a laptop. They might also just messenger it because they really don’t want us going in.

  3. talos*

    LW3, another suggestion is that depending on your field, there might be organizations for underrepresented groups in that field (for example, engineering has NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) or SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), among others). You could consider reaching out to a chapter of one of these organizations–lots of universities have chapters of these organizations. Even if you are not, yourself, a member of the group they represent, a lot of them would still be happy to hear from you.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I love the ideas to reach out to HBCUs, to local university career centers, and to professional orgs in your field.

      I was also going to suggest an FAQ type of thing on your company website or social media or your boss’s linked in. I’d like to see something like this on the websites for professional orgs in my field and have been thinking of making a list of FAQs about getting started in the field that anyone can answer.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Most localities also have a diverse business alliance that you could contact as well. If your company tracks the dollars you spend with diverse businesses then there is likely someone at your company already in contact with those alliances who could introduce you to some folks.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I hit enter too soon. You could also participate at high school job fairs in your area or invite high school students to spend a day at your company shadowing different people — my company started doing that several years ago in an effort to increase the diversity of people going into majors that are needed in our industry, and it has definitely had an impact in the pool of candidates we wind up with. I imagine it would also build the relationships with school counselors that would lead to you being contacted for informational interviews.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          Or there may be groups that organize shadowing for students- I did a leadership program in high school that organized a shadowing day. (It was a total bust for me personally- the person I was supposed to shadow had to cancel at last minute so someone else volunteered and then decided I couldn’t actually shadow them so I just sorta sat there.)

          Looking back it was a double failure- they should have made sure that whoever volunteered was guaranteeing that we were actually going to be able to spend the day with people but they should have probably had us shadow people in fields other then whatever we said we wanted to be ‘when we grew up’- sorta of a have you considered this field.

    3. Beckley*

      That’s a good idea. I wonder if reaching out to college-access organizations or scholarship funds for underrepresented groups might be helpful, too (I’m First, UNCF, HSF, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, etc.).

      1. tacosforbreakfast*

        I think the college access org idea is a good one. Also I previously worked in an independent living program for older youth preparing to exit from foster care or who had already exited (approx 18-21 y/o). The program was always seeking out these types of opportunities for students in the program (informational interviews, shadowing), esp. careers that students may not be aware of. You could look into “foster care independent living” programs in your city to potentially connect in this way.

    4. Lavender Menace*

      This was going to be my suggestion as well. I’m black and I attended an HBCU but I was also a member of these kinds of organizations for my field all through college and grad school (and still join them as a working professional). Reach out to your nearby chapter and offer to do a talk or fireside chat to build connections.

      1. Boss boss*

        Want to jump on and appreciate OP 3 for having this lens, and share that Hidden Brain did an episode on this exact phenomenon on June 8, called “Playing Favorites.” Personally I felt they ended the episode without going deep enough or being willing to explicitly name the significance of these individual people’s “favors” within a larger system tainted by individual bias and racism, but I did like that they planted the seed of the idea at all.

  4. Jaybeetee*

    Are thank you notes for interviews really a thing? I don’t think I’ve ever sent one (digitally or otherwise).

    LW1, if your husband is at it for hours, it also sounds like what he’s composing is less of a thank-you “note”, and more like the sort of thank-you letter sent out for certain gifts, that are expected to be several paragraphs long. Honestly, just a few lines about appreciating that (name) took the time to speak with you, you look forward to hearing more, etc., should do the trick in terms of covering the social nicety. (Then again, since I haven’t sent one, maybe I’m wrong on this. I just can’t imagine an employer expecting a full-on letter for something like that).

    I will say, I personally have an *awful* time with cover letters. I don’t spend hours on them, but they do end up taking me a long time, and I eschew them whenever possible. Thankfully, my current industry rarely wants them, favouring resume+questionnaire. Just to say I empathize with struggling with certain regular job-searching conventions.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        I’m outside the U.S. myself (Mexico) and we don’t really do thank you notes for work (nor for presents, for that matter). Some people send them, but it’s hardly a rule or an expectation. I could probably write one if needed, but I wouldn’t immediately know to send one.

        Now that Jaybeetee mentions it, we almost never do cover letters, too, but we constantly requiere others to provide us with letters of recommendation.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I started sending follow-up thank-you emails after having read about them in “Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions”, which is an American book. Obviously there are national and cultural differences, however I was working on the principle that it probably wouldn’t hurt my chances and also if you leave an interview feeling you could have answered a question better, it is an opportunity to expand on a point.

        1. MK*

          It’s not a given that they can’t hurt your chances. A good general rule for all workplace advice, or any advice at all really, is to adapt them to your culture/field/workplace etc. E.g. in my country follow-up emails would be a neutral thing, and maybe in rare cases a positive, but a lot of Alison’s other advice wouldn’t apply and some of it would come across badly.

          A point often made here is that there is a lot of bad advice out there, but I think there is also a lot of good advice that is misapplied.

          1. Senor Montoya*

            Haha, they can hurt your chances if you veer away from “thank you” and start telling us all about the party you went to the night before the interview and how you were worried we’d notice you were hung over. (emailed thank you)

            That person WAS our top choice. After that email: Next!

      3. Magenta*

        I’m in the UK and have never received a thank you note/email from a candidate. I always give them my contact details in case they have any questions but it is only very rarely tat I’m contacted.
        I’ve also never sent a thank you after an email, although I do thank them for their time at the end of the interview.

        1. UKDancer*

          Also in the UK and I think this is definitely not a thing here.

          I’ve never sent a thank you letter and never received one when hiring. I think it would be perceived negatively here rather than positively. I think more along the lines of being groveling / begging. It’s hot here today so I’m struggling to find the right words to explain what I mean as my brain is a bit heat fogged.

          As MK says it’s really important to be aware of the context and culture in which you’re operating.

            1. londonedit*

              Definitely. You do all the ‘Thank you, it was nice to meet you’ pleasantries at the end of the interview, and the understanding is that it’s then in the employer’s court to contact the interviewee. Someone then following up with another thank-you via email would definitely come across as ingratiating – I don’t think it would actively harm your chances, but I think it would be offputting for an employer. The vibe would be ‘Oh bloody hell, this one’s a bit keen’.

              1. Jane*

                I’ve only received them when hiring for grad entry level roles here in the UK, and only sporadically then. It’s a bit weird to receive them when you’re not used to them, but I assume they’ve either seen the advice online and aren’t seasoned enough yet to realise they’re not a thing here, or they come from a country where they are a thing. It doesn’t impact our decision one way or another.

                One from someone mid career level rather than a fresh grad would have us side-eyeing it though.

                1. emkay*

                  As a mid-career American interviewing for jobs in the UK, thanks to all on this thread for spelling this out!

            2. RebeccaNoraBunch*

              Oops. I’m in the US and it is Very Much A Thing here. When I interviewed for my current (global) company for a global role, one of the many interviewers was a lovely woman from the UK. I sent everyone thank you emails, including her, directly after the interview was over. I personalized each one as I always do.

              I got the job, though, so it must not have come across all that badly. ;)

              Come to think of it, she was one out of three people who wrote back, out of 7 or so people I interviewed with. Maybe she was pleasantly surprised!

        2. Sher-Bert*

          Even absent a thank you note, I almost always find a reason to follow up (a good reason!) if they offer that as an option. Trying to keep my name fresh in their heads. But it has to be a really good question!

      4. Jaybeetee*

        Pardon, wrote this comment and went to bed! Yes, I’m Canadian, and entered the workforce in the 2000s. I don’t recall thank-you notes ever being s thing in my neck of the woods. Didn’t realize they were expected in the US!

          1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            I’m also in Canada, and they’ve been at least a nice-to-have in the private sector, non-profit, and public sector areas I’m familiar with.

      5. kittymommy*

        Here’s a quick question – I just had an assessment “interview” yesterday with the formal interview being next week – do I need to send a thank you note for both meetings or just the latter?

        1. blaise zamboni*

          Just the latter. Thank-you notes are for formal interviews, and ideally will include some detail of the job you’re excited about, or (very briefly) reiterate one of your strengths, or touch on a connection you made in some other way. Assessment interviews and phone screens don’t really allow for those connections because they’re short and focused. I don’t think it would be egregiously bad to send a perfunctory note after an assessment interview, but I don’t think it would do anything to help, either.

      6. ampersand*

        Alison, this made me wonder: do you know why/how thank you emails have become such a necessary thing in the US and aren’t really a thing elsewhere? Is this just another weird American quirk?

        On a related note: A book about the history of job searching and how (and why) it’s changed over the years would be fascinating!

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I think in general we’re more into the expectation that you will get a formal thank you for many things. I only have limited experience in the UK but it seems like there is less expectation of getting, say, a formal thanks for something like a birthday gift. Or maybe it’s just my circle of family and friends.

          1. ampersand*

            Ah, good point! That reminds me: this past week I received a thank you note in the mail from a friend for a gift I recently gave her, so yes, it’s a thing. It makes sense that interview thank yous could be part of a broader cultural expectation vs. something that developed independently.

    1. kathlynn (Canada)*

      Yeah, like I was taught to do thank you notes, but I never actually have a physical address (and it was implied/assumed that they would be physically notes even in 2008), or an email address for the person I’ve been interviewed by. So I’ve never sent one. And honestly I generally don’t do very customized cover letters because retail general doesn’t have much to talk about. And I have removed one line that made a difference as a recent HS grad (acknowledged the importance of showing up to the job), and one that was about my future plans (which got me at least 1 interview). But I really do have to work on it, since I need to job search. I really don’t want to go back to my job

      1. MassMatt*

        “Retail doesn’t have a lot to talk about”? I really disagree, I worked retail for several years, I moved to shift supervision and then store manager at different places, the interviewers for the store manager job (big leap from prior job) told me I got the interview based on a great sentence (a SENTENCE!) in my cover letter.

        In general, I think people that assume their work history doesn’t give them any skills employers want are devaluing what they do and selling themselves short. Retail work is usually not highly paid, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or than anyone can do it.

        Off the top of my head, it probably includes customer service, sales, multitasking, conducting inventory, loss/theft prevention, computer use, and possibly marketing and bookkeeping. Not to mention staying motivated in the face (literally) of irate customers.

        Sales alone can be a lifelong career.

    2. Tree*

      I’m autistic and on a bad day, which is most days, it can indeed take me three hours to write a perfunctory three-sentence email, especially if it’s important. Three hours of intense focus in which I am doing nothing else but typing and erasing and trying to make the words happen and making sure I haven’t forgotten any words or written the wrong ones — and then when I give up and after I send it, I usually reread it a few more times and discover I did miss out some words or left off some suffixes.

      For cover letters, I have a file where I keep all my old ones and I mostly copy-paste sentences that fit this company’s ad / about me page in particular and leave out sentences that don’t fit and it still takes me hours to write one.

      I’ve found that some writing environments are easier for me than others. Typing into a chat window is faster for me than typing into an email window because the stakes are lower. Sometimes when I can’t write an email I’ll try writing it in Discord instead or on paper or in a comment box and sometimes that helps, but mostly what I have to do is postpone it for a few weeks until I have a good day when communication just happens on its own because if I push too hard, it breaks.

      Sometimes i have the other problem, where I can write a lot of words quickly, but if I want to make it be only 3 sentences and not write the same thing over and over again in a lot of different ways, then it takes me hours because every time I try to delete stuff, it just keeps gets longer and longer somehow no matter what I do, but I know that you absolutely cannot send a 10 page business email so I have to spend literally all day trying to condense it, or more wisely, give it up entirely and try again on a terser day.

      There is no in between.

      1. Tau*

        Also autistic here and I hear you. Written communication – especially formal communication – is… hard. I have always been quietly relieved that thank you notes aren’t a thing over here because I’m certain that my attempts would take closer to three hours than five minutes. And yeah, three sentences are generally a lot harder than three pages… and some days I’m just not going to be able to write that e-mail at all.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I really appreciate the comments here about autism and the difficulty writing. I have experience with family members and students on the spectrum and, for whatever reason, this has not been an issue for them (and I think I would know given the relationships).

        But I just saw a coworker’s writing for the first time and it was shockingly poor. He has a college education, is great with writing instructions, speaks well, and is a big reader I always assumed reading gives the best foundation for understanding grammar and words and basic sentence structure so I was especially shocked about his writing. I was really wrestling with what could be going on. Its not my business except now I have to edit his stuff and it is awkward. Your letters reminded me that I was not thinking of neurodiversity at all. I’ll keep doing what I was doing, be professional and do my job. But he makes comments about it (he always has, I just never saw his writing before) and now I see a gap in my own thinking that you helped close.

        1. BBA*

          It’s always good to be reminded of such things!

          For what it’s worth, this can change in various ways over the course of someone’s life. For example, for much of my life, writing came super easy to me. I could write quickly and effectively, I loved playing with prose, and the words just came pouring out. That went right out the window when I went through burnout. Cobbling together even short sentences was a painful and lengthy process, and my ability to process text also took a bit hit. Now, having recovered from burnout, I’m much closer writing like old-me than burnout-me. But as Tree and Tau indicated, it’s still a very fluid thing that depends on things like sensory environment, mental health, the importance whatever it is I’m trying to write, who I’m writing to, etc. And there are some days where writing is just not an available option.

          So someday you may find a student who was previously producing well-written content suddenly is writing more like your coworker. Or maybe someone who was writing like your coworker suddenly writes much more clearly.

          1. ampersand*

            I appreciate hearing about your experience with this–I’ve had the same happen, and honestly I thought I was kind of losing it. It makes sense that in times of extreme stress your ability to write well could/would be impaired. Practice has slowly helped me get better at writing again, but it was shocking to me that my writing ability seemingly disappeared after several very stressful life events.

            1. BBA*

              I felt that way too! It’s a shocking experience for sure. It didn’t help that I didn’t know I was autistic until the burnout. And I definitely can’t recommend experiencing autistic burnout while attempting to dissertate. But understanding my neurology better has certainly made it easier to build my writing ability back up, and it’s such a relief to know that such changes aren’t necessarily permanent.

              I’m glad you’re in a better place now too!

      3. Senor Montoya*

        Have a template for your thank you emails, just sub in names and such.

        Ask someone you trust to look over your template.

        1. MassMatt*

          This. It sounds as though the LW and spouse are really torturing themselves over this, and still winding up with output pretty similar to generic letters. Have a template that’s been proofread, cut and paste, and then let it go!

      4. LW1*

        Thank you for this! You can see from the replies that it’s very hard for allistics to understand the problem (including me, but I at least see it IRL so I believe it). Thank you *so much* for expanding on what exactly the problem is!

        We’ve been looking into speech-language therapy targeted at HFA/SCD. Maybe that will help. We can hope, anyway.

      5. KoiFeeder*

        As a professional autistic, I would like to engage brain before putting words into gear, but my brain is a stickshift where the clutch needs repair and the world is designed for automatic transmissions.

        (Although I am a lot better with written than I am with verbal.)

    3. What the What*

      I have never sent nor received a thank you note regarding an interview. I own a business in the accounting industry in the Midwest USA.

      I don’t remember them even mentioning it during career seminars when I went to Business School. I’m trying to imagine those Big 4 recruiters getting bombarded with dozens of thank you notes from eager grads. It’s kind of funny.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        I receive them sporadically. My last interview round I think I received them at 50% rate. And I truly see them as neutral.

    4. nnn*

      I was reading it as taking a long time not because of the length, but because he was crafting it.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s been recommended in the US for decades. All the job searching books and career advice centers reccomended them since I came of working age in 2002.

      It’s really just a final follow up. Not some flowery passionate “thank you”.

      I’ve sent them to everyone who interviews me and that I haven’t automatically decided I didn’t want work for.

      We’ve gotten plenty as well in return.

      Some go to HR instead of the direct hiring manager I’ve noticed.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      I notice when someone does not send any sort of thank you — a brief email is fine, doesn’t have to be the more crafted kind. It hasn’t made me not recommend someone for hire, but it does say to me: “is unaware of or doesn’t care about basic courtesy and professional expectations.” (I am not alone in this; most of my colleagues are surprised when we don’t get a thank you.) It’s a tiny piece of info about that person as a potential colleague. And as the new hire mentor, it alerts me to possible issues.

      1. MassMatt*

        May I ask what general region and type of business you are in?

        I consider a thank-you as both a basic courtesy and also another chance to make an impression on the employer, I figure one is not going to hurt and might help a little bit. But so many people here report never sending or receiving them I wonder if there’s somewhere where they are indeed essential.

      2. Nina*

        See, I’m in New Zealand, where *sending* thank you letters after interviews would mark you out as a bit of a weirdo who doesn’t understand professional norms, but it wouldn’t count much against you.
        Your comment reads to me like just another example of an American failing to understand that other cultures exist, and their ‘basic courtesy’ is not lacking, just different to yours.

    7. Jennifer Thneed*

      JBT, this has me curious:

      > the sort of thank-you letter sent out for certain gifts, that
      > are expected to be several paragraphs long

      I don’t have this expectation. What sorts of gifts would these be? (I’m in the US.)

      1. Ofotherworlds*

        In my family, and among my friends in HS and college, the rule is that you send a thank you note to anyone who gives you anything on your Birthday or Christmas, no matter how small. One thank you note per person, covering all gifts, though stocking stuffers don’t need to be mentioned individually. This note is hard copy, and ideally handwritten in ink if you have good penmanship (I don’t).

    8. MostCake*

      I’ve USPS-mdailed a handwritten thank-note to everyone who ever interviewed me for a job (perhaps 8-9 jobs total). In 35 years, I’ve gotten all but one job I’ve interviewed for and nearly always I’ve been told the thank-you note was much appreciated. In my current job, nearly 15 years tenure, I’ve had two of the three people I sent a note to pull them out and show them to me years later – to show that they kept them and appreciated them. When I write a note, I thank them for their time, re-express my desire for the job and briefly restate why I’d be good for it, and refer to something discussed during the interview, with my further/after thoughts; (about two short paragraphs total). So I say, do it.

      BTW, I write/mail the notes same day, even if it’s painful, so the recipients will hopefully get them the next business day. The last time, for my current job, I had worked all night, stayed up for daytime 3-hour interview, stopped at store on the way home to buy notepaper, went home and wrote notes, then drove to the post office to mail them. Maybe it’s like fortune cookies, but I believe sincere thank-you notes can tip things your way.

  5. Jim*

    Re: Q3 – consider…

    *Start by working out what your target demographies are and where they might be hanging out / what media they might be using…

    *advertising in the media read by people of different minorities e.g. are there newspapers / websites catering to what we call here (Australia) “Cultural And Linguistically Diverse” (‘CALD’). So I might consider advertising in the Turkish press, in the Australian Chinese Daily and so on. A lot of these will accept adverts in their language, so consider getting your message translated into the target audience

    *Consider notice boards in sports clubs in different areas. You will get a different set of people reading a notice in, say, an inner city boxing club, than you would in say, a rural polo club. If you put up a notice in a Kabbadi club you’ll probably get attention from lots of people of Indian and Pakistani background but probably not so many people of say European origin

    * Reach out to various social media influencers – there are bound to be lots of different influences from lots of different backgrounds who would be willing to pass on your message

    *Reach out to social advocacy groups – lots of different groups will be in touch with their own communities. I don’t know where you are and what you’re doing / offering by I randomly searched google and found lots of different bodies. For instance, I found a “Sudanese American” medical association in Virginia. If you’re involved in the medical field it might be worth reaching out to them to contact their communities. You can probably find just about any ethnic / cultural / class / linguistic community you can think off by searching in Google.

    Good luck!

    1. Frances*

      I agree with Jim about adding the the advocacy groups in professional associations to the mix. If there is a sub-group associated with BIPOC and/or students, they might be another venue to reach out to those new to the field. Good luck!

  6. Finland*

    LW#3, Like Alison said, I think it’s a great idea to reach out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). However, I don’t believe those should be the only focus of your efforts. There are many students who attend non-HBCUs who would also like access to these opportunities. It would be a great idea to ask colleges and universities if they have Black Student clubs and Diversity clubs that you can target for these opportunities. These clubs are more likely to have many non-white students. Offer to speak at job fairs and at conferences about initiatives to create diversity within your organization. The explanation you gave could be a very relatable way to relay that this is a serious initiative, not merely a public relations effort as a result of current events. I believe this would work very well for your company, considering that privileged and well-connected students are contacting you for information.

    I’d like to add that I appreciate very much that you are proactively seeking diversity. I work for a very prestigious organization, and their outreach and recruitment efforts consist of an internship program marketed to the local state university, which is majority white and privileged. Students who don’t attend the university will never hear of the internship unless they know someone in the hiring organization, which is a great way to ensure that the internship is near completely white. Moreover, it is a paid internship that would be very attractive to low-income students if they knew it existed.

      1. Finland*

        That’s what I do. I talk to people within my network and I also attend job fairs and student-focused city events to spread the word. I have even spoken to the Mayor (a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m sure). It’s almost like a part-time job.

  7. Treebeardette*

    I know a lot of people are focused on black universities, which I understand because of recent events, but I want to point out that Latin Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and especially native Americans also can use this (any minority really!) An easy way to help is to reach out to the local college or university career center. Express your interest in helping minorities and ask if they will pass along your contact information. Some universities even have programs that will let you eat lunch with someone in your interested career. Explore what they have and see if you can help. You may even volunteer to host a club. I find that community outreach gives better results than, say, talking to someone 100’s of miles away.
    Of course I’m saying this because my community college helped me a lot and have me a scholarship to pay for college. I connected with a lot of great people and saw them helping our community.
    Whatever you choose, best of luck!

    1. Bippity*


      Also, I’m not “all lives matter-ing” – and of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to focus on black youth, or wanting to redress racial imbalances, but white working class/underclass youth are often marginalised and ignored.

      I was raised in foster care because my own family were either in prison or abusive. I was street homeless at 14, very narrowly avoided being pimped out and sex trafficked, didn’t even start secondary education (my country’s version of the GED) till I was 24. I ultimately ended up doing a PhD. (I’m non-US, so university was free/cheap.) And of course I experience privilege in certain ways – I definitely experience white privilege, for example. But I regularly have people make assumptions about my background based on the colour of my skin and my education level, which could not be further from the truth.

      1. Lance*

        Are you suggesting OP spread their focus out to non-POC/minority students as well? I’m a bit curious where you might be going with this otherwise.

        1. a username*

          I think OP kind of says they want to do this as well. They mention connections and financial privilege specifically in their letter, right up front before race. Race is absolutely a component, but not the only component that affects the professional head-starts that OP is trying to circumvent, and it’s also not the only factor that determines where someone chooses to pursue their education and early career, so it makes sense to not want to limit those efforts to Black universities. And expanding out to focus on reaching students who are generally disadvantaged in these ways is going to automatically bring in BIPOC students anyway because, yknow, institutionalized racism

          1. Quill*

            In that case it might be good to reach out to community colleges or programs that work with high schoolers.

            1. Good idea*

              I am black, and I did not go to a historically black university (not Ivy League either, we had NO money, so I went sought schools with the most scholarships and cheaper tuition). There are students who are minorities and who would be so happy to have these opportunities as well. Cast your net wide to community colleges, community centres, community email lists, immigrant outreach groups,and more, as they will give you potential leads to individuals interested in these opportunities. I would have been so so so happy to know that potential employers were eager and actually wanted to talk to me. It’s not everyone that gets that message communicated to them. Keep up your hard work and efforts OP. This is not in vain, and you will find some diverse, yet excellent people eventually.

            2. Treebeardette*

              Yep! That’s my point. Community colleges reaches out to many people who need help. I recieved my GED through my community college and now I have a great career.

        2. MCB*

          Sounds like Bippity is suggesting that a student of any race or ethnicity who is disadvantaged may be grateful to hear about this opportunity. If targeting students, for example, in addition to the minority student organizations, OP could also include student services or whichever area of the university/college would offer support to students who are receiving aid, work/study opportunities, are food insecure, etc.

        3. Mystery Bookworm*

          I think Bippity is more referencing class diversity here, and offering opportunities to people who don’t have professional contacts through their families. (Which will overlap with race in a lot of places, of course.)

          1. Lucy*

            Class is a huge factor in Britain. Class discrimination is as widespread and destructive as racial discrimination.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              This. Also, don’t forget to target women and LGBT. Sexism is huge in all communities.

        4. Lucy*

          The LW said they wanted to widen their focus from the typical approaches they get which are often from very privileged people with family connections, most but not all of whom are white.

          Some of the commentariat have interpreted that to mean “must reach black youth and ONLY black youth.” That’s problematic, first since it’s not inclusive to non-black ethnic minority and indigenous people, second because it ignores minority groups and forms of marginalisation other than race (class, disability status, gender orientation), and third because it plays into a reductive and binary mentality about race. Many middle class black people would be offended at the suggestion that being black means they must be struggling and need extra help.

          In my industry (non-US) there’s a lot of focus on what is called the “WBUC” group, which covers people who grew up in the care system, people who have been in the prison system, and people either grew up with their parent/guardian(s) on welfare or who live on welfare themselves. Upthread someone suggested contacting organisations which serve young people who are the first in their families to go to uni, which is another way to engage with people of all ethnicities from less privileged backgrounds.

      2. Drag0nfly*

        That is an excellent point. I grew up privileged because I have two loving, functional parents who were married to each other, and they saw to our educations. When I was little, I was in the free / reduced lunch program at school depending on how the economy was going. But I recently reconnected with some white friends who didn’t have my privilege: six sisters, and each one has a different father, and not all of them know who their fathers are. To this day, no idea who is their father. No advantages in life.

        Some of the girls dropped out of high school, or got pregnant in school, got hooked on drugs, survived sex abuse, you name it. And they didn’t go as far in life as I’d thought they would when we were little. One of them is a hospital orderly, but when we were kids I thought she’d be a doctor. She made science seem like so much fun. I’m sad for all of the girls, because I remember the dreams we had back then. But life is hard when you start a race with your shoes tied together, and your arms in a straight jacket so you can’t catch yourself when you fall.

        LW3, I would suggest reaching out to the kids who are on financial aid, as well as those on merit scholarships. Students who are first in their families to go to college, all that jazz. Whatever your profession is, if there’s a university major attached to it, reach out to that department in different universities. Make sure the schools know that your company offers *paid* internships. Those of us who grew up working class or poor interpret lucrative, unpaid internships as targeting “for trust fund kids only.” So your company offering paid internships is a great equalizer on that factor alone. Don’t keep *that* a secret!

      3. Captain Raymond Holt*

        I would agree with that. I’m in the USA. I was a rural, low-income, first-generation college student, which is a population that isn’t always well represented/supported in Bachelors’ programs, and there are less of us in graduate programs. Though I am White, there are other ways I did not experience privilege (abusive household, no access to health care growing up, etc). These are things you can’t see by looking at me and lead to a few other assumptions as well.

      4. kt*

        One way that I’ve addressed this in an easy email-list kind of way is contacting McNair/TRIO scholars programs I’ve had relationships with when I’m advertising a great internship, an award or grant, etc. The TRIO and McNair students I’ve worked with in the past came from a variety of backgrounds, reflecting racial and ethnic diversity as well as urban/rural/reservation and economic diversity. I don’t know about every college or university, but at the two I worked at that had these programs, I was able to find an actual human associated with these programs who was interested in and able to disseminate info to students (sometimes with student groups it’s kind of hit or miss to get a working email address, as maybe one year students miss the student government funding deadlines, let the organization slide a bit, whatever).

        My old mailing list for cool opportunities included the student chapters of SWE (women in engineering), TRIO/McNair person, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, National Association of Mathematicians, Association for Women in Mathematics, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Association for Computing Machinery, some of the Black student fraternities or sororities as appropriate, SACNAS if the college/university has it… My particular universities also had more local groups like Hmong-American STEM clubs etc. Just some ideas, not at all exhaustive.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Just a reminder-while it would be amazing and lovely and do a lot of good in the world if the OP could help kids from all those backgrounds, it’s just not realistic. Sometimes I feel the comment section on this kind of topic gets to be ways the OP SHOULD be helping, instead of good ideas for ways she COULD be helping. The OP is hardly going to solve this issue in all its myriad variations personally! So she should pick one or two of the ways that are most convenient or speak to her personally, do those, and not worry about helping every single person with lack of privilege. Then she can switch it up in a few years when she wants a change or moves to a different area or something.

      Then maybe the rest of us with positions of power or influence can do some of those others.

      1. Treebeardette*

        I listed great ways for her to connect. No where did I mention that she has to help everyone. I’m not sure if you’re giving a general statement based on replies or if you commenting against me. I don’t think anyone expects her to do everything and I didn’t get that idea from the replies. I think the point is there is a lot of ways to help.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think most people are just offering ways that she could help, not saying she has to do them all. The number of different suggestions might feel like a lot, but that’s because there’s such a huge variety of people who are shut out of these kinds of opportunities. I think it’s really great that there are so many suggestions; it ups the chances that OP will find some that will be feasible for her company.

      3. Lucy*

        Nobody is suggesting she has to help everyone, but the fact is no one knows the LW’s circumstances or which of the many options suggested are practical for her. We don’t know where in the US the LW is located, what industry she works in, what kind of people she’s looking for, or what kind of connections to the educational system she has.

        For example both Alison and several posters have suggested contacting black colleges. That’s not bad advice, but the LW’s circumstances might be that she prefers to connect with organisations that are more local to her, or she might be interested in reaching young professionals and not students (the letter says the people who contact her already hold “fancy degrees” indicating they are not undergrads), or she might find that charitable/outreach organisations are easier to connect with than educational bodies.

        Plus the LW didn’t actually mention anything about wanting to help black youth. In fact she never uses the word “black” at all, so it’s weird that some comments are acting like she must only help black youth and are being critical of comments suggesting options that are not exclusively for black people. The letter emphasised wanting to reach people from less privileged and well-connected backgrounds. An Asian, Latinx, or working class white person might fit what the LW is looking for just as well, and it’s kinda racist to assume that being black means you’re from an underprivileged family.

        It’s a good thing that the LW is being offered such a wide range of options because it means she can pick the ideas that work for her circumstances.

    3. Temperance*

      YES. I’m just jumping in to suggest reaching out to groups for students who are first-gen college students. I didn’t know what an informational interview was until I was WORKING AS A LAWYER and someone asked me for one.

      1. V*

        I am not a first gen college student and in fact am privileged in most of the standard axes. I’d never heard of an informational interview before this thread!

      2. Treebeardette*

        That reminds me of the time I emailed the teacher to all what a TA was. He kept saying if we need help, go to the TA.
        Ah yes…. Teaching assistant. Being a first gen college student was a very interesting experience.

    4. Lavender Menace*

      Yes, this! In addition to HBCUs there are also Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and tribal colleges that you can reach out and partner with, as well as organizations within those fields as well. All the brown people need that love. And we do talk to each other a lot, so once you’ve circulated around in one network you might be surprised which others you jump to.

      I’m going to double down on the recommendation to volunteer to host something, too (virtually). I’m black and went to an HBCU, and unfortunately, a lot of students of color have a distrust for well-meaning white professionals who reach out to help especially in the wake of a big national racial event. There’s always the wonder of – does this person actually want to make a difference, or are they trying to assuage some guilt? Do they understand at least at a basic level the challenges of my community? Reaching out to give a talk or a fireside chat or attend a networking function puts more of the onus on you and at least demonstrates that you’re willing to put in the minimum effort to reach those students, which makes it more likely they’ll take you seriously as an ally.

      (But I will disagree a little with the distance – one of the issues my industry (tech) has is that we’re located far away from most centers with diverse populations. Especially now, there are far fewer barriers to working with someone who is at a distance from you!)

  8. Thanks for pulling others up with you*

    To #3, does it have to be recent college grads? To me, the sooner you get this kind of information the better. People from privilege get these kind of insights from their parents and their networks while they are in high school and those without privilege too often aren’t aware that they can ask for an informational interview. The best thing I can come up with right now is to look at the disadvantaged communities around you and see if you can maybe have a conversation with some students, volunteer with different organizations working in these communities and see if there is an opportunity to partner with any of them. If you’re doing the interviews to find potential new hires, I can’t think of anything else besides connecting with faculty or college clubs to do presentations to classrooms or posting something on a bulletin board on college campuses and/or the social media equivalents. Posting something on your website and social media may help those that are resourceful.

    1. MK*

      I don’t know that it’s necessarily true that the sooner you get “this kind” of information the better. Or rather, the kind of insight that would be useful to, say, a highschool student thinking they might want to enter the field is very different to what someone who already has a relevant degree and is thinking about what type of work they want to pursue.

      1. Lavender Menace*

        I think the idea is that students don’t know they can ask for these kinds of things. I grew up working-class, and the idea of an informational interview never crossed my mind until I was in graduate school and learned it was a thing (and that’s because I went to a tony graduate school alongside wealthy classmates). I would absolutely tell a high school student to do informational interviews, because they can be useful in figuring out what you want to do.

    2. Bippity*

      I would explore mentorship organisations related to your area. I mentor through two local mentor schemes, and although they are not restricted in any particular way the majority of mentees are BIPOC youth.

    3. anonymous 5*

      Coming here to say this! Don’t wait for the prospective employees to be done with their schooling. Partner with communities, start going to high school (and maybe middle school?) career days–connect people to your field while they’re still early enough in their education to have the interest help shape their progress. My HS actually allowed a real estate firm who had a robust intern/apprenticeship program give a presentation to the entire school.

      Also, in the meantime, look within your industry (or at least your own company) to see what you might have the power to do to help ensure that the environment is actually welcoming and supportive of those who don’t come from a high-privilege, mostly-white background.

    4. Rage Against the Nonprofit Industrial Complex*

      LW3 may also widen their search by not limiting it only to colleges- what about reaching out to career centers/vocational training programs? What about contacting community centers and cultural organizations? If you cast your net only into academic waters, even with a focus on racial and ethnic diversity, you’ll end up with a lot of folks of very similar socioeconomic backgrounds and life experiences- college-educated young people. You might consider reaching out to a community center in a Black neighborhood, or one of those programs that helps single mothers find jobs, education, and housing. If you live in one of the cities that the Jeremiah Program operates in, they might be a great place to look!

      1. TTDH*

        I agree with all of this in theory! One caveat, though – if LW3 reaches out broadly to area institutions, they should make sure that they’re well-acquainted with their company’s general hiring requirements and taking those into account. For example, if their company will only hire people with a 4-year degree for any desirable jobs (still unfortunately common), LW3 should be forthcoming about that in these interviews, and do what they can to change that part of the culture if there’s not a reason why that degree is actually necessary. Otherwise, LW3 may be better off targeting a diverse group of college grads, or high-schoolers who are considering attending college. And of course, as other commenters have mentioned, it will help a lot if any internships are paid. It’s great to reach out to disadvantaged communities, but it needs to be with information that is pertinent to them specifically and not dangling a frustrating carrot.

  9. Women’s College Alum*

    LW3 – Also consider contacting Women’s Colleges. A lot of them attract a diverse group of students. I don’t know what field you’re in, but it’s probably a good idea to explicitly invite women and non-men to explore their career options. I certainly did not know informational interviews were something you could do until very recently.

    1. Frideag Dachaigh*

      Was about to comment this as well. I can’t say what it would look like in other college circles, but within the women’s college student & alumni groups (because we’re a pretty tight knit bunch, in addition to institution specific groups, there are multiple very active groups for women’s colleges overall), posts of “I work in x field and I’m offering informational interviews to low-income/first-gen/students of color” etc are pretty commonplace. Even though you likely aren’t an alum, you might have a friend or know someone who can post in one of these groups on your behalf (also pretty common).

  10. kathlynn (Canada)*

    If you are interested in talking to a group of young people about career opportunities and development, you could contact lower income high schools, and do presentations if you can get the time to do them.
    I will say, that with my background as a person from a rural community and low/poverty level background, whose family generally hasn’t gone to college or gotten white Collar jobs, my knowledge about what types of office jobs are available or how to get into them feels very stunted.
    And while I assume that less rural people low income people will have more knowledge of these jobs, having someone tell you that it’s an option is always helpful. (at my school it was all trades we heard about. People who didn’t want to go into trades were expected to seek the information out themselves. And the usual small town emphasis on sports for entertainment)

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      Absolutely. This is what my current company does; most jobs there (not mine, thankfully) require a highly specialised STEM degree that a lot of people are not aware exists. They will quite often go into local schools to do presentations/workshops with kids who are doing STEM subjects, with the message that hey, you guys like STEM, this is one type of career you can do with this that you might not know about, you can get this degree at XYZ universities and if you do end up with that degree then give us a call. It’s pretty effective and I know there are a couple of current staff members who actually were local students and heard about the company before they ever even went to university.

  11. V*


    This may sound unkind but this reads to me like an issue with the LW and their partner lacking experience with the important skill of writing professional mails, not an issue with thank you emails being a thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I recognise myself in this so much! I used to do exactly this and I still sometimes fall into this trap. My goodbye email at work took 2+ hours to craft. But it’s important to get used to writing quickly without overthinking things. This is something that you can definitely grow more comfortable with over time, provided you make a conscious decision to recognise and address the habit.

    1. Forrest*

      It could be, but it could easily be that OP’s husband works in an area where he gets by just fine without the ability to craft professional emails because his skills in another area more than make up for it.

      I was actually thinking that not doing them might be a good way to weed out employers who are picky about thank-you notes, since I would assume that’s quite likely to correlate with employers who are Not Great at managing an autistic employee.

      1. Metadata minion*

        There’s also probably a lot of anxiety going on about the need for it to be absolutely perfect, especially given the amount of (often bogus) interview advice out there telling you the One! Secret! Trick! to getting a job. Especially once you’ve settled into a position, there’s less pressure to make every communication perfect, so long as you’re not actually in a communication field. Someone who’s perfectly competent at sending internal business emails where it really doesn’t matter how they come out so long as you follow basic office norms can still get tied up in knots trying to make their one shot at a thank-you note perfect.

        1. Tau*

          And… mm… not speaking for OP’s husband here, but in my experience if there’s one thing growing up autistic does to you it’s really, really hammering in the idea that there are secret rules to social interaction that everyone knows but you, and if you violate them you will be rejected/shunned/humiliated. And it can be very hard to dismiss that even as an adult because to a certain extent it’s actually true. So if you add that to what you mentioned… I’m not sure if it’s the main cause of the writing blocks a few of us have been talking about, but it’s very easy to see how it could cause someone to end up in an anxious spiral and make no progress.

          Me, my company mainly uses Slack and I have to communicate with externals almost never, which helps a lot. I do know that whenever I have to write something I am much, much slower and much, much more detailed than I should be – thankfully, in my field this isn’t a big problem, but there are definitely some careers I should not be pursuing.

          1. LW1*

            I’m allistic but had years of a very bad school fit, and his definitely describes my social anxiety. As you said: To an extent it’s *actually true* (that mistakes are rather easy to make and have severe consequences, so you need to be very careful). That plus inexperience are the main causes of my writing blocks.

            I also agree that this is not the main cause of my husband’s issues. If it were, seems like it’d be taking him 30 minutes (like it does me), not 3 hours.

            But it’s definitely a contributor for us both, so thanks for making the point!

    2. LW1*

      Yes, *I* lack experience. That moves it from 5-10 minutes to 30 minutes. My husband OTOH is on the spectrum. That makes it take 3 hours.

      The thing is, the only reason “writing quickly without overthinking things” works is because (if) your instincts can actually be relied on to properly guide you. Experience can help train them. But you need the underlying social instincts. Otherwise, “writing (or speaking) quickly without overthinking things” just leads to constantly offending people.

      When I first met my husband, he had a habit of constantly apologizing. I thought he just needed more self-confidence, so I encouraged him to stop the constant apologies. Once he did, *then* I noticed that he frequently made social mistakes that *did* call for apology. I started noticing because now he no longer apologized for them, so now I was getting hurt/offended.

      It turned out that habit of constantly apologizing had developed for a reason. He couldn’t actually tell when he was being offensive/hurtful. When he never apologized, he frequently *did offend people*. When he constantly apologized, he frequently apologized when it was unnecessary…but he also covered the times it *was* necessary. He went back to constantly apologizing.

      I think part of his problem with writing is that you can’t just go ahead and say something, then apologize in case it’s offensive. With writing, you have to just get it right the first time. That takes a huge amount of processing if you don’t have allistic social instincts. You can’t just “do it quickly without overthinking.” “Overthinking” is how you ever get it right at all!

  12. Potatoes gonna potate*

    #1 – I always did thank you notes and used the advice given…..can’t say I ever got a job for it. When I hired people it rarely impacted my decision to hire them (or not hire them.

    The only time I think I ever let one sway my decision was with an intern who didn’t even have my contact info but sought it out – to me that put her from “hmm maybe” to “ok definitely!”

    It’s a good gesture I think and I’d never tell anyone not to, it’s just I don’t think it weighs as much as people think it does when they’re agonizing for hours over it.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Seconding this. From my experience as a candidate, last job that I interviewed and got the job for, I got a call from my recruiter saying that I was the top candidate, before I ever had a chance to write a thank-you note. I’d stopped at a McDonalds to change out of my suit into a casual work outfit, because I was heading back to work, and that was when I got the call. Probably sent a TY note anyway, but it didn’t change a thing. Sent TY notes to other places I’d interviewed for, where I did not get the job, again it did not change a thing. As one of the people interviewing, I’ve received TY notes, can’t say I really read them – probably opened the email and took a quick look – they definitely do not need to be heavily customized and no one will notice if they are not. And again, we’d already discussed the candidates and made our choices by then, and the thank-you note or lack thereof would not have changed our decision.

      The only time I think I ever let one sway my decision was with an intern who didn’t even have my contact info but sought it out – to me that put her from “hmm maybe” to “ok definitely!”

      Oh this is interesting. We interviewed two candidates last year, and they went about this differently. One sent a TY note in a Word doc to our HR recruiter who’d been her point of contact, and asked her to forward it to everyone on the interview panel (naming us by name – it might have even been a separate word doc for each of us – I can’t recall.) The other one just figured out each of our email addresses and sent off the notes – I came into work to an email from him in my inbox. Granted, I am not an experienced interviewer, but my reaction to the first one was “wow, she’s so professional, I’d like to work with her”, and to the second “yikes, creepy”. I guess it didn’t help that the second candidate kind of had a “yikes, creepy” vibe about him to begin with, and him proactively finding my contact info just added to that image, which already existed. I asked around (and did the search on this blog), and apparently it is in fact normal today for a candidate to figure out everyone’s direct contact information. Was news to me, I’d only ever sent notes to the people that I had the contact info for; but I haven’t interviewed regularly in years.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I did not say it was hard. I mean, it’s not hard to find an interviewer’s home address either. Doesn’t mean I should mail them a handwritten thank-you note to their home. But, like I said, that’s apparently standard practice now, so it is what it is.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I think that’s where the TY note comes down to swaying someone in either direction – in my case, the candidate was great, but we had a lot of great candidates already so she was in the maybe pile. My name isn’t the easiest to spell or find, so that impressed me.

    2. Prairie*

      I think this really depends on the job. I worked in fundraising and now in higher ed administration, both fields where relationship building is essential to the job. The thank you note can be a demonstration of your professional skill.
      I got to the interview stage at one org, sent thank you notes, and they hired another candidate (who had a decade more of professional experience) for the role. Two months later another job opened up and they didn’t even post it, just called and offered it to me. It wasn’t ONLY because of the thank you notes, but they did specifically mention them during that offer call.

    3. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Yeah, I actually got a great thank you email from an intern candidate yesterday – it was on Zoom, so she had the chance to see our names and get the spellings, and I got an email that basically could be summarized like this:

      Dear AGB,

      Thank you so much for meeting with me yesterday. It was a pleasure to learn about X job task and better understand the culture of the firm, and made me even more excited about the possibility of joining. I also really enjoyed hearing about Y anecdote.

      I can tell that Company is a special place to work, and would be thrilled to join such a Adjective 1, Adjective 2, and Adjective 3 team. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make your hiring decision easier.

      Thank you,

      Did it change our opinion of her? No. Did it cement the feeling we had about her after the interview? Yes. Is it a really flexible template email that did not feel like one when we read it? Also yes.

      I think you’re right that they don’t really impact decisions much, but unfortunately if you’re in a work culture that values them, it’s good to have an easy template/process for them.

      1. kt*


        And I wanted to call out to the LW that perhaps (YMMV) an algorithmic approach to generating the thank you could help her spouse. I like the way this email above is formatted.


        thank you. express pleasant thought about company and job. mention enjoyable moment in interview.

        I-sentence expressing aspects of team and job that would fit applicant well. be in touch if you have questions.


  13. V*


    This may sound unkind but this reads to me like an issue with the LW and their partner lacking experience with the important skill of writing professional mails, not an issue with thank you emails being a thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I recognise myself in this so much! I used to do exactly this and I still sometimes fall into this trap. My goodbye email at work took 2+ hours to craft. But it’s important to get used to writing quickly without overthinking things. This is something that you can definitely grow more comfortable with over time, provided you make a conscious decision to recognise and address the habit.

    1. RB*

      Yes, well put, writing quickly without overthinking things is what’s needed here. Then proofreading once. I had a boss who used to say, if I spent too long writing a memo, “we’re not crafting the Magna Carta here.”

      1. Forrest*

        This is well-meant and would be good advice if the OP had specified that her husband was inexperienced or new to the professional environment. But given the actual context, it is a bit, “but have you tried not being autistic?” Anxiety about communication and social/professional norms is a fairly common experience for autistic people trying to navigate neurotypical workplaces!

        1. V*

          True, I certainly don’t want to claim that it’s only a matter of “getting over yourself”. My main point was that rather than getting confirmation that they can do away with thank you mails, it might be worthwhile to take a closer look at how to get more comfortable with what is essentially business writing. Most office jobs involve this after all and I’d be hard-pressed to consider it reasonable to accommodate taking hours to write one email to a client. Maybe it’s something the LW’s partner can partially overcome, maybe it’s not. That’s part of what makes it a spectrum disorder.

          Again though, I don’t want to make light of the LW’s partner’s struggles. I just wanted to share that it’s something I’ve had to work on in the past. The same goes for the anxiety you described. I feel like few people are ever born who wouldn’t be anxious in a new environment or with new responsibilities and where that’s not a skill they learned gradually. I’m not a fan of giving up on a challenge just because you’re not neurotypical.

      2. Dahlia*

        “writing quickly without overthinking things is what’s needed here.”

        Unforunately, OP’s partner probably can’t turn his autism off.

    2. Bippity*

      It depends what kind of job he’s applying for. I would assume he’s likely not applying for a traditional office-type job that involves a lot of responding to emails and things.

      Many neurodiverse people sometimes struggle with new tasks they don’t have a roadmap for, but can be high achievers in other tasks that are either more familiar or just better suited for their skill sets.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I think you are ignoring the comments from the OP and others here that the problem is not with letter writing it is with letter writing when on the Autism spectrum.

    4. August*

      I don’t think this comment is unkind, but I do think it’s missing the point a bit. The LW’s pretty clear that the issue isn’t necessarily inexperience, but neurodivergence. I can’t speak for LW and her husband, but I used to spend an hour on thank you emails, even though I’d written plenty before and my job involves a ton of writing. The issue wasn’t that I was uncertain about professional norms/wording; it was that I literally couldn’t get past that little anxiety-block in my brain going “it’s not right! It’s not right! Fix it, somehow!”

      I assume the LW and her husband know their situation best, and know that this issue may not go away the more they practice writing. So my take is that the question boils down to “given this known limitation, are individualized thank you notes still so important that it’s worth it for us to spend 3+ hours crafting them?”

    5. CR*

      Well said. I am also an introvert with anxiety and I can write a thank you email in 5 minutes. I’m not sure how being an introvert has anything to do with your ability to quickly write a thank you note. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel!

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          The OP is the introvert. Their husband is neurodivergent.

          I understand why a neurodivergent person may take three hours to write a thank-you note. I don’t understand why being an introvert means that it takes half an hour to improve said thank you note.

      1. Mae Fuller*

        But the OP didn’t say their husband was an introvert, they said he was autistic. It can take my autistic husband half an hour or more to send his mother a text message saying “yes please, it would be lovely to see you”. It’s great that this isn’t a problem for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem for anybody else.

  14. Coffee Cup*

    I will never understand why employers think preventing employees from taking holidays somehow saves them money. They pay the same they would regardless, and get zombie workers who are too tired and are burning out. Because it looks good on paper with the hours worked? So strange…

    1. Non-prophet*

      I replied with a similar comment above, but it either didn’t go through or is awaiting moderation. Accrued vacation is considered a liability, and LW2’s institution is likely trying to control the size of the liabilities on their balance sheet. In addition, they would need to pay out that vacation time if/when employees leave. If the institution is considering large layoffs, it will indeed save them money to freeze the vacation accrual.

      I’m not defending it. I think it’s a terrible, unreasonable way to save money.

    2. Edianter*

      It’s an accounting thing—staff vacation time shows up under an organization’s liabilities. If they’re strapped financially, the first thing they’re going to do is attempt to reduce liabilities. So staff vacation time gets slashed.

      1. Coffee Cup*

        Well, they can also stop paying out accrued vacation when someone leaves? That way your current employers don’t go insane, and the liability is reduced. It is still not ideal, but better.

        1. HelloHello*

          Depending on the state, that might not be legal. I know in both California and Illinois, for example, accrued vacation is legally considered salary and you have to pay it out when a person leaves.

      2. Actual Vampire*

        I once worked at a place where people had so much accrued vacation that it became a huge liability… but the company’s response was to tell people to go on vacation, not take the vacation time away!

  15. Calanthea*

    LW2, I also work for a HEI, and we have been given two extra days of holiday! Admittedly, this is to make up for no pay rises this year, but there’s a very explicit narrative of “This has been a stressful year, probably won’t be that easy any time soon, take a break!”

  16. Sher-Bert*

    Is it too early? Have I just not had enough coffee? How does cutting out vacation days help the budget? They get paid $XXX either way. Is it due to having to pay someone to cover? I could see that as a consideration (a wrong headed one) in some industries, I guess.
    Yes, everyone needs time off!!!

    1. Kimmybear*

      Without vacation days, if I take a week off, that is now unpaid. Some people will still take time off even during COVID and as Cambridge Comma said, it’s a liability on the books for when “Normal” returns and people have accumulated weeks and months of leave. But it does stink, because people need time off and may not be able to afford to take it unpaid.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      When my old company laid people off, they paid out accrued but unused PTO as a lump sum upon termination. If they’re anticipating layoffs the company may be trying to minimize the amount they will need to pay out.

    3. BRR*

      I imagine it’s primarily the pay out but someone could also be thinking days off=loss of productivity.

  17. Elle by the sea*

    Spending hours on a thank you note? Well, no!

    I usually write thank you notes, unless I’m not provided with the email address of the interviewers. In that case, I have always felt that it was more appropriate to send a not to the recruiter sending the note. I would contest what the aforementioned thank you note tyrant suggested: it’s not always a good idea to find out the email address of the interviewers and shower them with your thank you notes.

    Let me share a personal anecdote here. I interviewed for a company (pretty well-known, am not giving away the name here). I was not provided with the contact details of any of the interviewers. So, I sent a thank you note to the recruiter instead.

    I got the job. Fast forward, about a year. My colleagues interviewed someone and pointed out a “red” flag: the interviewee, lol and behold, looked up their email address and sent them a thank you note. I honestly thought that these people were off their trolleys – aren’t you supposed to send a thank you note? Isn’t that an optional albeit pleasant gesture? Well, they found it gimmicky and tantamount to grovelling. The hiring manager’s response to their complaint was: “you know, there is this weirdness that some people do, I don’t like it, either, but don’t make a huge deal about it”. Honestly, I was shocked. But apparently, there are anti-thank-you-note tyrants as well.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I think your last line is a key truth. For every employer who will eliminate you from consideration because you didn’t send a thank you note, there is another who will think it’s weird that you did, and another who won’t care either way. If it’s something that is very difficult for you, for whatever reason (I’m not on the spectrum that I know of but I suck at writing personal notes) it is not worth the level of anxiety and self-torture that the OP’s husband is going through. IMHO if sending a note is such a big deal that it will tank your chances of a job on its own then someone who finds these things difficult is probably not a good fit for that job anyway.

  18. Can Man*

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see #1. Although I don’t have quite that trouble with thank you notes at this point (partly because I tend to just procrastinate until I’ve missed my window instead of agonizing over them), I did spend about 3 hours yesterday on a cover letter that only had one paragraph that I didn’t take from a previous one.

    I’ve learned to take other people’s assessments of time commitment with a grain of salt, because I never find them accurate. The “5 minute” comment was just another example of something I’ve dealt with almost daily for decades, so it barely even registered.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I agree. I assume most people underestimate these things. I got some confirmation of this recently via some contract work.

    2. Lilyp*

      Yeah, even as a neurotypical person who can write well and just gets lower-case-a anxious about emails I think it would take me 20-40 minutes to send a thoughtful follow-up message (thinking of something good to say, writing, editing, proofreading, proofreading two more times verrryyyyy slooooowly because I know my tendency for typos and that the bar for that is high during applications). I would probably come down on the side of doing it anyway, but I think the ideas “a thank-you email should take about ten minutes to write” and “a follow-up email should be personalized to the interview and say something insightful about the conversation” and “it’s extra important to triple-check all interview-related communications because typos can count against you a lot when they only have this one email to go on” are… mutually exclusive for many many people.

      1. LW1*

        “I think the ideas “a thank-you email should take about ten minutes to write” and “a follow-up email should be personalized to the interview and say something insightful about the conversation” and “it’s extra important to triple-check all interview-related communications because typos can count against you a lot when they only have this one email to go on” are… mutually exclusive for many many people.”

        Yes, this is a great way of putting it–thank you!

        1. Liz*

          Agreed! I’m neurotypical and struggle with a lot of these things. A job application for me is usually a whole day/several hours affair. Responding to a rejection email usually takes a whole day while I grapple with my feelings and try to find the words. I have standard templates for a lot of application material, but this doesn’t always help when I’m still trying to “tailor” some elements, or the online application requires everything each and every element individually, and/or multiple additional questions requiring specific scenarios described in a large paragraph. And then the advice after all this is “don’t get emotionally invested, just move on to the next”. But it’s hard not to get emotionally invested when you’ve spent all day psyching yourself up to get the thing done. Fortunately, I’m not from a culture that expects thank you notes for interviews!!

  19. Bookworm*

    #1: I think it’s sweet that your husband is spending so much effort and thought into it, but yeah. Hours for a thank you note is too much. A lot of hiring orgs or people you interview with will simply dash off a reply that takes 30 seconds “it was nice to meet you too!” or something similar. Alison’s advice is on the mark. I try to remember specific things each interviewer (if there were several) brought up but don’t stress too much about it.

    #5: Yes, bring it up. I’d be surprised if your firm didn’t have stricter protocols in place by now (if they were anything like my org, which is in an unrelated field, we were cautious but have come to realize we’re in this for awhile and have adjusted accordingly). Maybe it slipped your manager’s mind among so many other things (understandable) but they should be providing you with equipment. Good luck!

    1. Anononon*

      I want to push back a bit on characterizing it as “sweet”, as it seems to diminish the issue. From my read of the letter, this isn’t a perfectionist carefully crafting a meticulous, award-winning letter, but someone who is struggling to put down any words at all onto paper.

      Also, because there have been a couple comments re: this. Different types of writing require different skills and types of thinking. I write a ton for work, and I enjoy and am good at it. But sending a text message about something to my acquaintance next door neighbor? Ugh, I hate it forever.

  20. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP1, it also takes me too long to write content I am happy with. Not on the spectrum but I have related stuff.

    Your husband could try using a “thank you” letter template. He can pop in the right words and send it off.

    Dear ,

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for the role. I really enjoyed meeting with you and and finding out more about and the work you are doing. I am especially interested in , especially with my background/skills/expertise/interest in .

    Hoping to hear from you soon.

    Best regards,

    This might not be a great thank you note, I don’t know, they are not a thing where I live. But would surely make it easier for him to put one together, and most of it doesn’t require any thought. Spending a bit of time on the “interesting thing” would make it feel less generic.

    I hope this helps!

  21. Frank T.*

    OP #3 —

    Math professor here. What a wonderful idea!

    I agree that contacting universities, including HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, would be a wonderful thing to do. Unfortunately “contacting universities” can be a difficult thing to do; bureaucratically they can be very complicated, people in one silo don’t always talk with people in another, and we have a bad habit of not always answering our email. I often get ignored, and I work here! So be prepared to try to contact multiple people.

    Does your career lend itself especially well to a particular major? You might consider contacting individual faculty members in the relevant academic department. The “undergraduate director” or “undergraduate vice chair” would be a good person to contact. Or, if there is some sort of undergraduate “club” or “honor society” connected with the department, then contact whoever runs it. Alternatively, individual faculty members often have a web presence — if any boast of helping to organize community or undergraduate enrichment opportunities, contact them.

    Once you get their attention, you could volunteer to meet with individual students. Alternatively, you might offer to give some sort of lecture, and stick around to answer questions afterwards. At my university, I invited an alumnus who had gone on to teach high school math. He gave a presentation about what his job was like, how he’d prepared for it, and what his job search was like. The room was packed to capacity; one of the proudest moments of my career.

    Finally, about the timing: I’d probably wait a little bit — right now, the semester is about to start; everyone is busy planning for the fall (and many are teaching online for the first time), and trying to wrap up everything they promised themselves they’d do over the summer. An email could slip through the cracks. Conversely, by mid-semester, faculty will be bogged down with grading exams and the like. In my estimation, week 2 or 3 of the semester would be perfect.

    Good luck!!

    1. OrigCassandra*

      These suggestions are all excellent.

      Point people in individual departments also include anyone with “student services” or “career services” in their title, also full-time advisors. If the department’s faculty/staff directory doesn’t include anyone like this, you can try going up a level to the “college” or “school” that the department is part of.

      Some departments/programs (ours, for example) do career panels or résumé/cover-letter clinics. Certainly worth asking about these!

      Thank you, OP3. I appreciate what you’re doing so, so much.

      1. Pamela Adams*

        As someone who wears the ‘advisor’ hat, I was about to say the same thing. My state university campus has multiple student clubs, cultural centers, and faculty/staff diversity groups.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Thank you for pointing out that reaching out to many colleges isn’t actually totally straightforward. I also do some informational interviews, and the idea of doing proactive outreach to a bunch of local colleges, on an ongoing basis over the years as students and faculty change, to drum up more people who want to do interviews, sounds exhausting.

      OP, in my somewhat specialized field there are some good local and national professional groups for women and underrepresented minorities that have message boards and sometimes official mentoring programs, and I think that would be lower effort in my circumstances than trying to connect through colleges. There’s a local chapter of a “Young Professionals in Llama Grooming” organization that has a very open membership (no dues to join the list, so used by a lot of job seekers and likely a bit more diverse than other professional associations) – it would be easy to post a message offering to meet with people. My field has an advocacy component, and I’d also reach out to a couple of the local and national advocacy groups since they tend to be well-connected.

      In my field, there have also been a ton of webinars and publications in the last couple of months on equity and diversity in our field. I’d pay attention to the organizations doing the best work there, and whether they might be good resources.

      1. Lavender Menace*

        You shouldn’t have to do that with any well-organized university – most modern career centers have online databases with contact information of people/alumni who have volunteered to do informational interviews.

        As a woman of color, I actually think reaching out to the professional networks is more likely to be a lot of work – the leadership of those changes very frequently, and some fizzle out or they move platforms or god knows what else.

    3. Tuckerman*

      You bring up a really good point about reaching the correct person. Another option is to contact the University library and offer to do something there.
      I work in student advising and connected with an alumna who was happy to provide info about her career path. Whenever students tell me they’re looking for information on that path, I connect them. She’s been amazing to our students.

  22. Contracts Killer*

    Do you work for a public university? If so, there are likely statutes and administrative rules applicable to your school. These may include things like how vacation days accrue. Your state may also have a State Personnel agency or something similar that sets out an enforces state human resource policies. You could check those places to see if your school is violating a state policy, rule, or law.

  23. Argh!*

    Re: personal laptop

    It’s a security risk to have people use a personal laptop for work. I was able to borrow one from work because my personal laptop had issues when we were sent home. They also loaned me a portable hotspot that has saved me from bandwidth issues. With everyone else in my neighborhood working from home via cable internet, it was nearly impossible for me to get anything done, and zoom meetings were a nightmare. (This is the price of eliminating net neutrality, imho)

    So… if LW #5 phrases it as being in the company’s interest, that could help their case.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      It really depends on the individual if its a security risk. Like if the employee is going to have Customer info and credit card info then i can see it being a security issue. But if they are a copy writer or something that doesn’t have any proprietary or secure information a personal computer shouldn’t be an issue. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t provide her one if they can. It really sucks for those people who have to use their personal computers to WFH.

  24. SpiderLadyCEO*

    Letter Writer #3, I would see if there is a way for you to reach out to first generation college students, kids whose parents didn’t go to college. These kids are likely to have no connections at all, and come from all sorts of backgrounds!

    1. very grateful person*

      Look for opportunities to get involved with Upward Bound and other TRiO programs. Those programs serve low-income and/or first-generation to college students.

      1. juliebulie*

        I was an Upward Bound tutor/counselor in 1987. It is a wonderful program. I recommend it!

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Check to see if the institution has a TRiO office — they will likely be pleased to hear from you!

  25. EBStarr*

    I also struggle with the informational interview thing too. I work at a big tech company that is hard to get hired at, and went to a prestigious private undergrad, so I feel like almost everyone I get contacted by through my personal network is highly privileged and mostly white or East Asian (highly privileged, white, and East Asian also exactly describe me, not coincidentally). It’s so stark sometimes I feel like even being willing to help out friends of friends when asked is basically perpetuating systemic racism. Like, I have an informational interview literally later today with the daughter of my mom’s friend–and how did my mom meet this friend? At the same fancy college I went to. Privilege perpetuates itself through the generations if you just go with the flow of the status quo. So I love this question and I think it’s incumbent on all of us who have a lot of networking capital to try to actively make sure it’s not just being shared with white folks.

    Two things have made this slightly easier for me to do. One, I went to a local public university for grad school, where the undergrad population was mostly Black and/or immigrant, and I have basically made it a rule that I respond to cold LinkedIn requests for informational interviews only when it’s someone from that school, not from the “fancy” one I went to for undergrad. Secondly, my work makes it easy for me by providing a lot of opportunities to volunteer for outreach at HBCUs and local public colleges, including the one I went to, so I get to meet more people and encourage them to stay in touch by volunteering for those events.

    If you don’t know of programs already in place, I think actively reaching out to HBCUs in the area is a great idea; also reaching out to community colleges and other places that aren’t necessarily HBCUs but have a more diverse population. And then I think the second step is once you’re there, give out your contact info more generously than you otherwise would, and emphasize when you speak to them that asking for these kinds of interviews is an option if they want to learn more, because it’s true that part of the reason a lot of these requests come from privileged folk is that they’re more likely to a) know it’s an option to ask and b) feel “deserving” enough to ask.

    I also wonder if there are local professional organizations or even Facebook groups you could join that might run, or at least know about, official diversity and outreach programs you could volunteer for, since others have pointed out above that it can be hard to actually get in touch with people at colleges. An existing program makes it easier for you, obviously, and if you get involved with it you can also recruit your other friends in your field to join and increase your impact even more.

    1. Forrest*

      >>I have basically made it a rule that I respond to cold LinkedIn requests for informational interviews only when it’s someone from that school

      Would you put that rule on your LinkedIn publically? I mean that as a genuine question–I understand reasons why you might not, but also think there might be some good reasons to make it public that you’re thinking about that stuff.

      I am on the other side–I’m a university careers adviser and just starting a project specifically looking at how we help our students from lower-income and ethnic minority backgrounds get access to networking and mentoring opportunities. I think one of the things we need to look at is how we get companies to be explicit about seeking to diversify their workforce, and how we facilitate that outreach so it actually has an impact on students and graduates. (And I’m especially thinking about the balance between students wanting to see professionals of colour as role models, and being aware of the burden that puts on PoC to be visible and available to answer questions, and how white people take some of that burden.)

  26. nonethefewer*

    LW #5: At my company, we have users who have no choice but to use their personal laptops (because reasons). We’ve been struggling with how to make sure our networks are safe while only imposing the barest minimum of security tools on their laptops, because they’re not ours to manage. If your company’s security team is at all useful, they will be *thrilled* to ship you a proper work laptop. There’s a real chance that with the [waves hands] everything going on, your manager straight-up forgot that you’re using a personal laptop. I say bring it up as soon as you can, and phrase it in the interests of business and security, and I will be surprised if they push back.

    (Well. Not “surprised”, per se. I’ve read this blog too long to be surprised by awful behavior. But I sure *hope* your company has and deploys common sense.)

    1. CheeryO*

      Yeah, I work for state government, and there is no money for basic office supplies right now, let alone laptops, and we only had a few kicking around. We’re all working from personal laptops with flash drives and the web browser version of Outlook to minimize the security/FOIL concerns, but it’s reeeally not ideal. I’d hope that a company with some cash flow would be able to make sure people weren’t using their personal devices.

      1. nonethefewer*

        True, I am coming from an “ideally…” standpoint. As someone else pointed out though, as awful as everything is, there might be some spares left over from various layoffs/furloughs. Doesn’t help if there were limited laptops to start with, of course.

        I am so tired of this year. D:

      2. soon to be former fed really*

        I really hope that none of y’all work with PII that cannot be encrypted because personal laptop. Nightmare waiting to happen. Not only that, but the resources need to access work functions eat up memory and reduce the efficiency of your laptop for your personal use. Employees should never be required to provide the equipment they use for the job, as this makes it harder for those with less money to work their.

    2. Melissa*

      I do believe my manager forgot I’m still using personal equipment (Totally understandable). As for security, I believe that because I’m remoting in to a machine that’s on premises, I think security issues are minimal. I can’t save docs to my laptop, Duo authentication to get into the on premises machine.

  27. Trout 'Waver*

    LW#3, My county in the semi-rural southeast USA has a program designed to promote keeping educated local students in the community after they graduate. They run an internship program that supports both paid and unpaid interns (depending on the nature of the work) working at local businesses. They match students to jobs and also provide each intern with an independent mentor in their field. The program recruits heavily at our local HBCU, as well as a public university and a couple small private colleges. The intern pool in the program is very diverse, and talented as well. Maybe your county or city has a similar program that you could volunteer as a mentor in?

  28. Brooks Brothers Stan*

    LW5 I recently went through the same exact situation and same exact thought spiral. I basically hit paralysis by analysis because I couldn’t get past the multiple stumbling blocks I kept seeing for why I couldn’t ask for something because of previous decisions I had made.

    Then one day in a fit of absolute madness I just texted my manager “Hey, would [our parent org] reimburse me for a new laptop?” and she immediately sent me the information I needed to accomplish this. Once this happened I suddenly remembered all the times I had heard various other team members get different (high number) expenses for WFH equipment paid for by our parent organization. Companies know that circumstances and outlooks have greatly changed since this began. What was a good solution five months ago (when this was thought to be temporary) obviously aren’t going to work going forward.

    I agree with Alison, charge up the hill like you’re Theodore Roosevelt.

    1. Melissa*

      Thanks so much. Everyone’s responses have been so helpful. I will address Monday with my manager.

  29. Katie*

    OP #3, I would suggest to network with lots of universities in your region. I’m contacted by my alma mater’s career office for informational interviews all the time (notwithstanding the typical reputation of a college career center, at least I’m controlling the information I give to the students). You might also check with college departments that align with your field. When I was in school, my professors were more help than the career center in knowing where/how to find jobs. They know their students, and their challenges, and usually know exactly who could benefit most from the thing you are trying to offer.

  30. Workfromhome*

    #5 Unless you have a lot of confidence in your organization I’d probably just go straight to -“I used my personal laptop as a temporary measure due to the virus but its not reliable for work purposes. I’m starting to see some things that make me fear it could interrupt my work in the near future (if asked for examples just say freezing..everyone laptop freezes so its not a lie ;-)) When can you get me a company supplied laptop so I can avoid having a potential work interruption?

    Don’t make it like you are asking for a favour to get a work laptop, Tell them you want to have the equipment you need to do your job efficiently I’m sure they would ant that.

  31. Dust Bunny*

    Fellow on-the-spectrum person here: Your husband needs to work smarter, not harder. All he needs is a couple of thank-you templates into which he can plug a few particulars. His interviewers aren’t going to be comparing thank-you notes to see if they were sufficiently customized. He does need to write them, but if he’s still struggling this much he should have asked for help finding a solution a long time ago!

    1. Altair*

      Yes, this. He can probably take a note he’s written, replace the specific name with [name of interviewer] and the day and date with [day and date] and so on, and then just fill in the blanks and send it after each interview. That’s totally ok to do.

  32. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

    LW3: do you belong to your profession’s membership association? Or related organizations? There are often mentor programs as well as specific diversity and inclusion initiatives to combat the precise thing you mentioned. I would recommend getting involved with these orgs – they would love to have you! Good luck!

  33. HailRobonia*

    re. #5, my home computer is so old that I literally would not be able to do my work using it. So you could say something like “my personal computer is showing its age and impacting my ability to do my job.”

  34. Scarlet*

    OP #5 – your computer’s life will not shorten in any way you’re bound to notice by using it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Computers don’t work like cars in this way. In fact, if you are going to ask your boss to use a work laptop instead I really wouldn’t bring up this concern. I think you could simply ask if you could start using the company’s work laptop – no explanation needed.

    And, well, if an explanation IS needed, you can just say “I’m unable to continue using my personal laptop for work purposes” or something like that.

    1. Forrest*

      Hm–I know there is very little physical wear and tear on a computer, but honestly, I’ve been using a pretty cheap laptop that I got for browsing the internet and webchats with friends for work, and it has been getting noticeably slower over the past four months that I’ve been using it so much more. I know it’s a software issue rather than hardware, but I’m not techy enough to know what caches or folders I need to clear out to free up memory or speed up the processor or … whatever? Even if it’s not physical wear and tear, the effect is the same!

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      I disagree. Computer life span can be shortened by heavy use. I’m not a computer repair expert, but I do build and maintain my own computers. If nothing else, there is wear to the keyboard and trackpad – I’ve had buttons/keys break, key covers fall off, and so on from ordinary use. Batteries also have a limited life span based on run time and charge cycles. Hard drives and cooling fans are mechanical components that deteriorate with use much like a car’s engine. Ports (power cord, usb, etc) can wear out or break over time from friction and bumps. Also the more hours it’s used the more dust and grime accumulates, meaning more frequent internal cleaning… a true pain in the rear on most modern laptops!

      Many people will never notice these issues because they either don’t use their computer heavily or because they replace it for a newer model with higher specs before it’s old enough to have components fail. That doesn’t mean wear and tear isn’t an issue for a personal laptop that LW presumably plans to keep until it breaks.

    3. Melissa*

      Thanks. I agree about not making this about wear and tear. I think my manger just needs to be reminded I still using personal equipment and since this situation has gone beyond emergency measures, it’s time to provide firm-issued equipment. I worked 22 years for a non-profit. I still am stuck in that mentality of frugality

  35. BadWolf*

    OP5 — If your workplace is like mine, when we first went home, we thought we’d be back in a month or two. Now we have no solid return date. Many people have gone in to fetch more office items to round out their home office. I went in for my chair 2 months ago. Circumstances have changed. It’s okay to need a change for you.

    There’s a good chance they don’t remember that you’re still using your personal laptop. Hopefully a good office would be all, “Oh boy, you’re still using your personal laptop? Lets get you set up with an official laptop so we have backups/controls/tracking/etc on it.”

    1. BadWolf*

      By tracking, I don’t mean office “spy ware” — just so they know where all their corporate information is (not on your personal laptop).

  36. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I want to add another idea. My geographic area has 2 things: 1) outdoorsy stuff; and 2) brain drain in certain professions. One local professional organization has started advertising in outdoorsy publications. Does it make sense that the local dental association advertises jobs in “Hiker’s Monthly?” Not at first blush, but it is also really possible there are dentists who love hiking, and who might be interested in moving for a new job to an area that has pursuits they enjoy. This said, perhaps in addition to finding a diverse group of students at colleges and universities, maybe also extend outreach to other places you may find a diverse group of applicants. Another analogy would be to put up a flyer at the local coffee house that hosts open mic nights rather than putting up a flyer in the men’s locker room at the country club.

    I also think it’s worth exploring younger students – high school mentoring programs, and possibly posting internships and mentoring opportunities at local community colleges. It may help widen the net. Also, there may be really good candidates in the making out there who just don’t know about the field – helping people learn about the field sooner can help spark interest so they may guide their educational paths toward working in that field.

  37. Rebecca*

    LW2, at first I skimmed over the field you work in and thought you might be a fellow inmate at my partner’s former company. They offered “unlimited” vacation but the rules they put around it – and continued to put around in on a nearly quarterly basis – all but ensured vacations would be few and far between: No vacations of more than 3 consecutive days in March, June, July, August, November or December unless you are a parent or guardian; any vacation more than 3 consecutive days must be requested and approved 90 days in advance, vacations of longer than a week must be approved 6 months in advance, if you take any vacation during the aforementioned months, you do so with an understanding that you’ll be expected to be available via phone and email and possibly join meetings or do work; and on and on and on.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      No vacations of more than 3 consecutive days in March, June, July, August, November or December unless you are a parent or guardian;

      This is a pile of WTF… that’s a terrible policy. (The rest sucks too… )

      1. Phony Genius*

        In some states, you can’t treat employees differently based on parental status. I am assuming that this company is not in one of those states.

  38. blepkitty*

    #1 I feel for you, but I’m relieved to finally see someone say this! It doesn’t take me three hours, but writing a thank you note does take me much longer than five minutes. And I, too, almost always end up with something generic after all my effort. I’ve always been frustrated seeing people with the “just five minutes of your time!” comments.

    And no, I can’t make a template and plug in particulars, either. The only things that stand out from an interview in my mind in the immediate aftermath are the negatives. I need more than a day to fully process how I feel about a job after an interview, and the window for writing a note is over by then.

    I’ll be doing generic thank yous from now on.

    (Also, I did not have time to send one after my interview for the last job I held before my current one, because they called at the end of the same day to offer me the job!)

    1. Altair*

      You don’t actually have to put anything *about* the interview in your Thank-you note, just “thank you for taking the time to intervieew me. I look forward to hearing from you.” Generic is totally ok!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To be clear, customized is better. Like I wrote in the post, generic is fine if that’s all you can realistically do, but if you can do a customized one, you should. Generic will be neutral in most cases, unless you’re dealing with a hiring manager who penalizes people for sending nothing (there are lots of them). Customized can actually help you.

        1. Altair*

          Well, of course. And needless to say you’re the one who has hired people of the two of us. :) My intent was to be encouraging — the perfect can often be the enemy of the good, and I was seeing that here with LW#1 and blepkitty.

    2. soon to be former fed really*

      Tip from a former writing tutor (me): Ask yourself what it is you want to commmunicate. Answer the question out loud. Then write the answer down. Record what you say if you need to. It’s amazing how much this cuts through mental red tape and improves the focus of written communications.

  39. HeyPony*

    When I started a new position last fall and had several entry level jobs to fill, I reached out to two local community colleges that had a certificate program that matched nicely with the skills I was looking for. Both ended up routing me to their career centers, and in both cases no one there would talk to me. They just sent me a canned email with links to get “registered” in their referral system which I was unable to do because someone else in my organization had already done so (I work for a small division of a giant global company) and they only allowed one person per email domain. I tried a couple of times to follow up with them – I really wanted to have a dialogue and get on their radar for any students who might have an interest and to be a resource even if I didn’t have a position open, but I couldn’t break through their bureaucracy and inertia. It was very frustrating.

    1. higheredrefugee*

      Community College career centers are notoriously underfunded, understaffed, and underpaid, and also often tasked with finding/monitoring placements for credit-earning experiential learning opportunities. They pay for the bare bones CMS system because that allows only one contact because that’s what they can afford. If the students you targeted were in non-degree certificate programs, there are even fewer resources. If you can swing it, it might be better to reach out to the program director to see if you can do some kind of credit-bearing internships to create a pipeline for eventual full-time positions. Or if you can find any of your own connections that have successfully onboarded candidates that you’re targeting, find out how they got in front of them at either of the schools. Super frustrating, I know, I’ve lived the other side but when students are lined up out the door, or your accreditor-required info is due, or you’re just collecting it, employer relations nearly always comes last.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Only one person per email domain? That would also be a problem for small companies that doesn’t have their own email domain. Such a weird rule!

  40. HerGirlFriday*

    LW3 – are there any special internship programs that are industry based? Like TLIP for students interested in government. Or professional societies with a student branch? There may be mentorship or guest speaker opportunities through those programs. (And if not, ask the professional group why not.) Your local housing authority may also have networks with groups seeking professional & career mentors for young people. Your local school district may also be interested. Large colleges and universities with programs specific to your field may also have Diversity Offices and Career Centers. All would be good resources (or connected to resources) for your goals.

  41. Dino*

    OP 3: You can also reach out to college departments that work with first generation students! I was a first generation college student and there were so many things I didn’t know about the professional world and wouldn’t have dreamed to ask for someone’s time just to ask questions.

    1. Elle by the sea*

      I agree with this – first generation students are extremely underrated in the general scheme of this diversity crusade (for want of a better word). I do agree with Alison that reaching out to HBCs is really important. It’s much less straightforward how to reach out to first generation students, because they are much harder to grasp as a community.

      1. Altair*

        ‘Crusade’ has … interesting connotations. How about diversity initiative ?
        (I know it seems picayune but how we phrase and conceptualize these efforts really does matter in terms of their success, both proximate and ultimate.)

  42. Brett*

    Unfortunately, many companies have a shortage of laptops right now. Apple and IBM are _very_ slow in shipping out new corporate laptops with huge backlogs. And, since so many companies do not currently have an onsite IT shop or very limited staff in those, imaging and setup of those new laptops will be slow as well.
    (Those staff are likely working from home until a large enough shipment of laptops comes in, and then only working onsite while setting up that batch then moving back off site again.)

    So, on top of the other issues cited, except it to be a long way to even get a laptop once you request one, even if your organization has plenty of funding for them.

  43. Erin*

    It broke my heart to read the first letter. I can only imagine how he’s struggling and feeling so out of sorts with this task.

    Definitely write up a template or two to use for this!! He will be done faster, feel more accomplished with the task, and you will get your husband back. Win-win-win!

    1. Elle by the sea*

      Exactly. Especially when you are a people pleaser or someone with crippling perfectionism/anxiety in disguise (I’m the latter). I don’t have that particular anxiety around thank you notes, per se, but I understand if someone does and it can be extremely debilitating. Just think of this: no one will judge you over how you wrote it. What matters is the gesture itself. It should be short and painless. If a prospective employer does judge you based on that, well, then good riddance, you judged a bullet.

  44. Cafe au Lait*

    Hey OP #3, what about doing an “Ask Me Anything” with a Black Student Alliance, or similar BiPOC student organization? TikToc, Instagram (kinda), Twitter (kinda), Snapchat are where students are ‘living’ online right now. You could put together a series of video content about your job and your profession. Another option is to reach out to a BiPOC professional who is blogging, podcasting, Instrgraming, etc and has a decently large following. Ask if they’d be willing to interview you. Explain to them what you’ve told Alison; you want to introduce students and young professionals who don’t have family or friend connections to your field and types of jobs available.

    1. Anon for this*

      OOh, this is a great idea. I recently did an interview with a podcast that is typically listened to by people of color, especially women of color, and got a whole bunch of LinkedIn connections in the following days from students and young professionals.

      These platforms are also generally always looking for interesting people to talk to about their jobs and careers!

  45. Coverage Associate*

    For #1, my husband is similar. One thing he does is begin the thank you note before the interview. Even for customized notes, the first sentence is usually a generic “thank you for meeting with me today to discuss the x position.” He does paper notes, or did before Covid, so he also has them addressed before the interview.

  46. Jennifer*

    Re: Thank you note

    Unless there is some sort of extraordinary circumstance or you are being hired to find the holy grail and being paid millions of dollars, a thank you card should not take more than 5-10 minutes to write.

    1. Can Man*

      What’s the point of this comment? Are you saying that if it takes longer than that you should give up? That if you take longer you’re a failure? That you should send whatever you have after that time even if it’s “Dear X, Thank you for the interview. I don’t know what to say ummm”? Without any advice, this comes across as invalidating.

    2. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Autism. Autism is the extraordinary circumstance. Which is detailed in the letter.

  47. nnn*

    #1: It might be helpful to consciously realize that your interviewers aren’t comparing thank-you notes. so if you reuse a script no one will know!

    If you have multiple interviewers in one interview, they were all in the same interview, so it makes perfect sense that the notes would be similar.

  48. JSPA*

    #5 if they can’t cover a new laptop, and don’t have an old one kicking around at work, they may be able to pay half the cost of a new laptop. Maybe present that as analogous to getting milage for using your own car for work travel. (I know milage for work travel is legally-mandated, and overheating an older laptop isn’t, but the argument is the same).

    “My laptop is overheating more frequently. If I continue to use it for work, I’ll need to shut it off for twenty minutes every two hours” or “my laptop is not fully compatible with Application A, the system can’t be upgraded to make it compatible, and crashes are becoming an issue” or “I’m at 94% on my disk storage which will prevent me from doing required backups” or, “my 7 year old also uses my personal laptop, and she’s getting better at thwarting parental controls and locks, so file security is becoming an issue” or something else equally specific, are probably a very good inducement for them to pony up, one way or another.

  49. Ray Gillette*

    I’m going through the hiring process right now and 90% of the thank you notes I’ve gotten have been some variation on “Hi Ray, thanks for your time today. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak about the assistant field agent position. Here’s the contact information for my references.” Save yourself the pain and be generic.

  50. Ace in the Hole*

    LW3, my state college system has something called the “Educational Opportunity Program” (EOP) specifically designed to help low-income, non-traditional and/or first generation college students succeed in higher education. I’d see if your state has a similar program for public universities. You could reach out to the program coordinator at whichever schools have degrees applicable to your field and offer to do some interviews if they have interested students.

  51. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Regarding thank you lettters and OP1 – I look at them as appropriate but not essential to the interview process. If a candidate bombed the interview, even an eloquent and job-specific thank you note wouldn’t change that. Likewise with a candidate who aced the interview but sent a perfunctory note , or no note at all.

    However, if you’re networking or asking people for help or favors specific to your job search, that’s a different matter. This is a more one-sided process and it’s more important for you to thank people when they (agree to) do a favor for you.

  52. The Happy Graduate*

    Man as a student, seeing LW #5’s concern of using a laptop 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week has me suddenly very concerned for my laptop’s health lol! More like 12-14hrs 7 days a week…
    Regardless, definitely agree with Alison’s advice – the worst they can do is say no and if they do then you say: “So what’s the plan if my laptop craps out on me before we’re back in the office?”

  53. RagingADHD*

    OP1, I know you are struggling and frustrated, but honestly, if it takes you half an hour to write a thank you note, that has nothing do with being an introvert.

    I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not that.

    Dear ____,

    It was great to meet you (yesterday/today), and find out more about (Company). (Optional: It was particularly interesting to learn (thing that makes me a good fit for the position).)

    I appreciate your time, and look forward to speaking with you further about (position).

    Best regards,

  54. pretzelgirl*

    #3-My metro area has a large facebook group call “Women’s Networking Group of XYZ City”. I believe several people are members of off shoot groups “Black Women’s Networking of XYZ City”, etc . You may want to check to see if your metro area has one. Even its just a women’s networking group, I have found the members to be super willing to share info and have great ideas of how you could reach a more diverse population.

  55. Koala dreams*

    People have mentioned reaching out to faculty and student counselors, but I’d also recommend reaching out to student organizations such as student unions and students clubs. When I went to university, career fairs and outreach to companies were often organized mainly by the students themselves, and it would be easier to turn to the student organizations directly instead of going through the bureaucacy of the university.

    For people interested in reaching out to young people generally, I recommend getting in touch with non profit organizations that serve disadvantaged populations. Where I live, homework help groups is the most common. I don’t know if they are as common in the US, but I imagine other types of organizations (food banks, youth sport groups) would work just as well.

  56. BBA*

    OP1, for what it’s worth, I’m autistic and I’ve experienced trouble with writing, especially if I feel a lot of anxiety around the writing.. And I’ve had some luck with working around the anxiety by attempting to do the anxiety-ridden writing at a time when I’m in a situation in which I can be somewhat distracted from it.

    For example, maybe I’m visiting with family, and I work on writing the thank-you note in between socializing, jumping in and out of the conversation while making bits of progress on the note. That probably wouldn’t work for everyone, especially since socializing can be a big drain itself. But somehow immersing myself in another situation and doing the writing here and there can help block the anxiety signal and help the writing get done faster.

    I hope your husband can find something that works for him! Struggling with writing can be really tough, even without the added weight of job searching.

  57. Greg*

    LW #1: My view on thank-you notes, much like with cover letters, is that a small percentage of them can hurt your candidacy, and a small percentage can help you, but the vast majority are simply a matter of checking a box. The hiring manager sees that you completed this (mostly) necessary task, but just skims the actual text and archives the email.

    Think of it this way: The odds that you would go from “not going to get the job” to “leading candidate” solely based on the text of your thank-you note are vanishingly small.

    If you have something particularly relevant to say in a thank-you, then it might be worth putting more time into it. But I agree with Alison that if this is turning into a major chore, your husband’s time would be far better spent simply sending generic notes and moving on to something else.

  58. Quickbeam*

    LW #1, I also have a husband on the spectrum and I feel your pain exquisitely. Day in day out social niceties that neurotypicals don’t give a thought to are agony for him. I hope your husband finds a long term job that is satisfying for him. I know long term employment where people have “gotten used to” my husband has helped tremendously. Also, early in his career we had to use ADA and his medical records to prevent discrimination. He’s about to retire but it really helped to have that supporting us.

    1. LW1*


      Can you tell me more about using ADA to prevent discrimination? We’re thinking we need to start doing that. Were there any specific accommodations that helped him?

  59. lazy intellectual*

    #1: I spend hours agonizing over thank you messages (which are no longer than 4 sentences) before sending them. I have social anxiety and worry I might sound stupid or something. I use templates but I still trip up.

  60. KoiFeeder*

    #1: Fellow autistic here. Does he have a template in place already? Just getting down any kind of template ahead of time saves me so much effort, because then I’m just working on fitting adjective a into blank space b and not agonizing over whether I sound pretentious or entitled or otherwise awful. Another thing that helps is looking at examples of thank-you letters for xyz situation online, although I have to put a time limit on my research or else I’d never get to writing the dang note.

  61. PlainJane*

    #3: One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just a question of not having the connections for informational interviews. If you’ve read “Hillbilly Elegy,” you may have seen the part in law school when, after a lifetime of going by academic rules and Marine corps rules, he realizes that the other kids are playing an entirely different game, with connections and informational interviews. I read a piece by a fairly well-to-do reader who marveled that, “My goodness, I guess most of us just take this for granted,” and my response was, “HEH????” Because that entire aspect of career life was a complete mystery to me. The idea of using people I knew to try and gain career opportunities was only partly a moot point because I didn’t know anybody. It also seemed weirdly offensive and gross to me, smacking of rich people using other humans as nothing but tools. It came as something of a revelation that this was actually considered normal business life. I still, to be perfectly honest, have no idea how to go about using what connections I do have, and feel really awkward any time I even think about bringing it up.

    So when you’re doing this kind of outreach, don’t just say, “Hey, we’re available for informational interviews!” Because that kind of goes in one ear and out the other–if I want information, I can learn it online, read a book, or do other things that are in my wheelhouse. I understand intellectually that it’s really more about showing off to a potential hiring authority and saying, “Woo-hoo, see how smart I am and how good I’d look at your organization,” but in practice, all of that is like speaking a REALLY DIFFICULT foreign language, and I’m 100% going to fumble the accent and feel like an idiot. (Meanwhile, the privileged kids you’re talking about tend to think of this as an obvious thing, a kind of dues-paying that is, after all, free… why is everyone not doing it? Why, you could even make a special effort to tell them to call you!)

    I would say, instead of going for encouraging these kinds of social networking, you just get down at the base line and actively recruit. Don’t say, “I’m open for informational interviews.” Go to the campus and say, “I’d like to meet with people interested in llama grooming with the Alpaca Group.” What’s the difference? In the first case, it comes off as, “Oh, please, feel free to contact me, I’m happy to disrupt my working life to talk to you and maybe sometime in the future there’s… something.” In the second, it’s clearly, “My company is interested in finding talent, and maybe you’re who we’re looking for.” In other words, they’re doing you a favor by coming to talk, and it’s clearly business and not social, and you’re not doing them a favor that they’ll feel indebted about.

    Maybe that’s just me, but the whole “networking” culture skeeves me too much to use it.

    1. PlainJane*

      Having read some other replies, I want to agree with the concept of not just focusing on historically black colleges, or even colleges at all. Does your company sponsor any neighborhood groups? Have floats in neighborhood parades? Talk at high schools or even junior high schools about the business? One thing about a lot of prestigious companies is that they’re very standoffish, they don’t feel like part of the community.

  62. Persephone Underground*

    LW1- Your husband is a great example here of the point that no single piece of advice will work for everyone. You seemed to be asking Alison for permission to not write these, but it’s important to remember that you don’t need anyone’s permission to exercise your best judgement about your own/ your husband’s situation (except his of course).

    I can relate a lot to your husband’s problem. I have ADHD and was having a lot of trouble writing cover letters, as in my applications were delayed for days trying to write one. My coach told me to just apply with a resume and be done with it (and helped me write a generic ok cover letter for those that required one), and one of those applications got me my current job! It’s good to put time into solid materials, but it’s also important to recognize when the net effect from any technique isn’t helping your overall job searching effort. It was hard for me to chill and just send stuff out, but I applied the advice that *was* helpful so I had a great resume and looked on multiple different job boards etc. And it worked! There’s no one formula, you always need to tailor the advice to yourself, and for us neurodiverse people we’ll need to tailor more than most.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      I’ve always copy/pasted cover letters and have had no trouble getting interviews. It was getting past the interview stage that was difficult. Of course, this could also depend on field.

      1. Persephone Underground*

        Yeah, I was trying to follow Alison’s advice on how to write an especially good one, but it my case the delay on actually applying to anything outweighed the benefit of it.

  63. mgguy*

    Re: #2

    Not totally sure about this, but I’ve always worked in academia and I’ve had jobs/positions that were both standard, at will, indefinite positions and jobs that were year-to-year renewed contracts.

    In the latter case, I think you’d have a definite case IF your contract letter states x vacation days per year and they’re changing the terms of the contract before it ends.

    Of course, in that case, most academic contracts would be ending/renewing around this time, so that might still not be applicable.

    1. LW2*

      I’m staff, so I don’t have a renewable contract per se. But to your point, I’m wondering if there’s anything in the employee handbook which outlines accrual rates and whether or not it can change at will.

      1. mgguy*

        I’ve been on both sides, so understand that(and the position I just handed my keys in on today was staff).

        I’d have to check on ours. I think leave accruals are an HR policy, which presumably can be changed at whim. I know they also cut matching and their portion of retirement contributions for us, and I ended up being furloughed for 11 weeks(originally just 7)-everyone here was either furloughed or received a pay cut. Needless to say, moral here-and I think a lot of other universities-is low now. I’m afraid it’s going to be even worse this fall since they’re adamant about bring students back, but yet there was a big outbreak from some student-athletes having an off campus party last weekend, and I’m sure that won’t be the last.

        TBH, I’m glad to jump out of a state R1(I think you said you’re private, but still a lot of big schools run similarly) and getting into a community college. For the place I’m going, our enrollment looks very strong for the fall.

  64. Persephone Underground*

    LW3- Depending on your field, don’t forget career switchers/ non-traditional students! Networking groups may be a good place to look, and also anywhere that trains people to enter your field (e.g. in tech there are coding ‘bootcamps’, always with career offices to help graduates find jobs, but it’s still really hard at the beginning) outside of a traditional four year college. Also, if you have internships at your company, consider opening them up outside of recent grads. People with less privileged backgrounds are more likely to take a less traditional route to a career.

  65. Alyssa*

    #3 – Reach out to your local Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. They almost always work with programs like this for college students in under-served communities and they love having volunteers!

  66. employment lawyah*

    2. Employer has frozen our vacation time
    Legal if it’s PROACTIVE (future vacation.) May be illegal if it’s RETROACTIVE (accrued vacation.) May also be illegal if you’re unionized.

    You’re in education, though, so hopefully you may get some vacation during holidays, when your school is closed.

  67. Oh Fiddlesticks*

    I’m a designer so when I was job hunting earlier this year, I custom designed my cards. Also printed them myself on specialty paper, found matching envelopes, varied the layout for each… it’s somewhat expected in design. But I interviewed with one HR rep, three team members, a manager and that manager’s manager – and several of them didn’t give me business cards at the interview, so I didn’t know their last names. I could have asked but that takes away the element of surprise, so I hunted them down on LinkedIn. After hours of work, I didn’t get the job. Then quarantine hit, I interviewed for another job virtually, and got it. And I never sent thank you cards after the interview. Figures.

  68. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

    LW3. May I please suggest that you reach out to colleges’ disability advisors and say that you encourage contact from neurodiverse candidates? People on the autism spectrum, in particular, are not natural networkers but all have their own unique strengths to offer. Recent figures show that 85% of graduates on the autism spectrum are unemployed – a truly shocking statistic! Unfortunately, most vocational placement support services specialize in the low skill end of the job market, which is an incredible waste of the talents of autistic graduates and (perhaps especially) bright autistic kids who never even got a chance to complete their formal education. Since you describe your industry as a niche area, this sounds like something that could be highly appealing to this type of jobseeker.

  69. LW1*


    I’m collecting all your suggested templates to show my husband. Thanks to everyone who posted one!

  70. Melissa*

    OP#5 here. Update – I spoke to manager about firm-issued laptop, she said absolutely and she was glad I brought it up. I can’t believe I hesitated to talk to her about it for so long. Rip that band-aid!

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