Ask a Manager in the media

Here’s some coverage of Ask a Manager in the media recently:

I talked to the New York Times about how to help someone who’s lost their job.

I talked to Cosmopolitan about taking vacations during Covid.

The Washington Post referenced Ask a Manager in an article about library staffs being forced to provide child care for county employers (and quoted the letter writer from this post).

I talked to Refinery29 about the deserved backlash against “dream jobs.”

{ 41 comments… read them below }

    1. drago cucina*

      Yes! There are so many issues decision makers don’t take into account. Safety is upmost. The whole issue of offering this benefit to county employees at tax payer expense…..Ugh.

      I admit I squealed a bit when I saw the Washington Post article.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I do to. I was struck by the one person they quoted about the backlash to the decision not being about the libraries, “they are upset the schools are closed and are lashing out.”
      No. That’s not completely true. I don’t have kids. I am an adult who needs to use the library. I don’t want to “drive a little farther.”
      I want the county to consider everyone in their plans.

    3. Poppy*

      I’m so glad the library story got picked up by the Washington Post. We all need to protect our libraries and their staff and it looks as though one world-class newspaper at least is prepared to do that… I hope the OP doesn’t suffer for writing the letter.

  1. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Travel restrictions are not just for leaving the US– many states are calling for a 14day quarantine for people coming in from other US states.
    And a friend in the UK was turned back from a European airport because of the same 14day requirement. Please note the airline DID NOT have that pre-existing national requirement info where they bought tickets for round trips and a 4-day stay.

    1. LGC*

      That gets a bit iffy as well – some states just have guidelines (NJ) while others are being responsible and trying to enforce a quarantine (NY). For what it’s worth, I’m in Jersey and my company is forcing people who leave the Northeast (practically – the list of states that are under the advisory is basically everything outside of the NE) to take two weeks off after their return.

      1. Nutmegger*

        It’s REALLY tricky. I’m in Connecticut where we had an early surge because of our NY border and a super-spreader event. So the government is taking this seriously.
        If you come into the state to stay more than 24 hours and you’ve spent more than 24 hours in states with defined infection rates, there’s a 14-day quarantine and contact tracking form. The list is updated weekly. $1000 fines have been issued.
        There are limited exceptions for essential workers, people with negative tests, and family crises. (So basically people can drive through, make a delivery, help restore power lines after a hurricane, care for a dying family member, but they need to stay isolated when not doing their stated exceptions.)

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Just a share, my company sent a list of states that they require us to quarantine after visiting. (My company has been 100% proactive on WFH. I’ve been in my house with company provided hardware since March). I am shocked on a daily basis how many messed up companies are out there.

  2. ThePear8*

    I read the dream job article, dang it’s true. I watched a talk about negotiating salary from a conference in the industry I want to go into, and one of the speakers said something I think is a really great quote – “our industry traffics in dream jobs.” Basically it’s a competitive industry using the idea of the “dream job” and “passion” as excuses to underpay and overwork people. The point in the context of the talk was that people are often afraid to negotiate for a higher salary because they don’t want negotiating to somehow endanger their chances of getting a “dream job”. I just feel like a lot of that article really rings true, especially in industries like that.

    1. Beth*

      My first career was my “dream job”. It paid horribly and we were horribly treated. I did love the work.

      I woke up, went back to school, and now I have a new “dream job” — I’m well-paid, my employers respect me and treat me well, and I’m going to be able to retire, with luck and careful management (unless the world falls the rest of the way apart).

    2. Rayray*

      One thing I’ve learned in trying to grow my career is that many of the people “at the top” are really just sociopaths. They see employees simply as paid help not people. They manipulate them into thinking low pay and horrible working conditions are their dues to be paid for the honor of working for them. It’s sickening.

  3. anonanners*

    “Sometimes, a job that you didn’t think would be anything special turns out to feel like a dream job once you’ve been in it for a while — if the company treats people well, the manager and coworkers are great, and the work is fulfilling”

    OH I feel that hard! For a while I wanted to be a college professor, but looking down the barrel of 7 yrs MS/PhD, 2+ yrs post-doc, 5+ years adjuncting, all to get a job where I’d have to work my ass off to get tenure…nah. Instead I’ve worked in higher ed administration. Is this my Dream Job? I don’t think it’s anyone’s Dream Job. But I LOVE it, for many of the reasons Alison outlines!

    1. AltAcforthewin*

      That part resonated with me too after being on the academic job market! I realized that I didn’t have to be a faculty member to do the things I enjoyed doing during my PhD, and I found a great job at a nonprofit that probably pays more and is in a city I love.

  4. FuzzFrogs*

    This Washington Post article is whole new level of WTF-ery. They took libraries that were FULLY RE-OPENED, offering vital internet/computer/printing/etc. services to the public, and re-closed them for this??? And wanted library staff to become childcare workers??? And they went over the heads of the director and the board of trustees too!!!

    At least the twisted logic behind the AAM post is understandable–you perceive (wrongly) that this county building and county staff are available, you think you can solve a lack of buildings and staff by using them. It’s a giant misunderstanding of what we do, and how much work goes into services even when our buildings are physically closed, but I can squint and see the reasoning. I know a lot of the AAM thread focused on it being a feminist issue–which was interesting to me, because as a librarian, I saw it more as society, once again, asking us to substitute for gaps in local services. This Loudon County debacle, however, strikes me as out-and-out misogynist, as well as ludicrous. I also grew up a block away from Loudon County (literally a block, the county line was just behind the houses across the street) and can guarantee that there was some classist bias going on; Loudon has a big class divide, and I’d hazard a guess that their Board of Supervisors has never relied on public spaces for internet access. (Also: many libraries have re-opened because of local governments putting pressure on libraries to “be of use;” that might be why they were fully open in the first place.)

    This industry is such a disaster zone right now, I swear.

    1. bunniferous*

      I live in the county where the OP works. I haven’t seen any further discussion (but I might have missed it?) I hope things work out better here and that OP does not turn into an untrained child care worker. It’s all so senseless.

      1. TwirlingBlades*

        I live down the street from the Ashburn library and I’m glad it reopened, especially with schools just re-opening (distance learning only, for those not in this area). Closing Ashburn and Rust was a big thing around here.

  5. Toots La'Rue*

    Honestly, really appreciate that Cosmo article about traveling. We’ve been following the CDC / local stay-at-home recommendations to… you know… stay at home and it’s been frustrating to see so many people traveling. It starts to make me feel like I’M the crazy one, I’M the one overreacting.

    1. Lynn*


      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Me too.

        Toots, you could use a healthy dose of self-righteousness. You, Lynn, myself, and everyone else are good and decent human beings who conscientiously follow the rules and protect ourselves and others.

        Everyone who doesn’t do that? They’re called plague rats.

        Yes, not nice at all. But it’s better than thinking you are overreacting because everyone else is acting like lemmings on bath salts.

    2. Beth*

      Have you contracted Covid? No? Then you are NOT over-reacting, you ware DOING IT RIGHT.

      I’m still Covid-free, and I’m still not traveling, and I plan on continuing to not be sick and not travel. I send you internet cheers and shake internet pompoms. Let’s keep it up!!

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Same here! I have not been sick at all this year – not even a sniffle.

        This has never happened to me in any year before.

    3. Silicon Valley Girl*

      Same. I love to travel, esp. internationally, I have tons of PTO racked up, I had trips planned for this year that I had to cancel (& lost money on or have credits for that I doubt I’ll be able to use). But no, I am not traveling outside my city until there’s a reliable & widespread vaccine. Why am I in the minority?

    4. WFH with Cat*

      In solidarity: You are not overreacting! I m not overreacting! We are not overreacting! We are just doing our best to stay safe, to keep those we love safe, and to keep complete strangers safe.

      Power on, Toots. :)

    5. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, everyone is making me feel crazy for not going out to just live my life like usual and have some fun, yo!

      God, I don’t even WANT to go out, not that I can anyway in between the disease and the fires.

  6. Lynn*

    Love these! And would love to see Alison’s thoughts on the recent NYT article about facebook’s internal clash between employees with kids and those without OO

    1. Anoniemous*

      I think this topic has come up a lot at AAM in the last few weeks and the consensus is that right now empathy for parents is the most important thing a manager and the childless can offer. The pandemic is hard for everyone but it’s at a whole different level for people with kids and it’s important everyone recognize that and sacrifice accordingly. It’s not like parents asked for this and it’s up to employers to help parents get through this.

  7. Beth*

    I notice that the article on using libraries as child care centres entirely ignored the question of using LIBRARIANS as (untrained, unlicensed, and unwilling) child care workers.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Right! They included a quote from someone about safety, but didn’t bother to go into detail in the reporting. They easily could have thrown in a line or two, “Typically, librarians are not required to undergo the same licensing procedures as childcare workers. In the event of an emergency, library staff may not be trained on how to handle specific situations, especially if the event is a medical emergency.”

    2. drago cucina*

      Staffing ratio is an issue as well. Public libraries are notoriously understaffed. Instead of thinking of the library as a warehouse for books (which it isn’t) they’re thinking of it as a warehouse for children.

    3. Quizzigal*

      Wait ’til the lawsuits start rolling in. I fearlessly predict that the librarians will be thrown under that bus as well, by the very persons responsible for this decision.

  8. Alli525*

    Re: “dream jobs”

    There’s a fantastic audio clip that’s been making the rounds on TikTok where the narrator says (in an arch British accent) “Darling, I’ve told you several times before, I have no dream job, I do not dream of labor.” It’s funny but it’s also changed the way I think about the idea of dream jobs.

    I’ve had dream jobs before, I really have – but then my manager needs me on something else, or we get a nightmare client, or whatever, and it stops being so dreamy. Eventually the dream ends and then you are stuck managing expectations that were too high to begin with.

  9. Reality Check*

    Re: the Dream Job article. Frustrating because as usual the Gen Xers aren’t mentioned. They quoted a 22 year old named Lindsey – her parents are most likely Gen Xers – and she mentioned her parents stressing over unexpected expenses. Yup! Sounds like the Forgotten Generation all right. I think the Dream Job delusion started with us, really. Millenials have my sympathy. I’ve been through it myself.

    1. Elise*

      I think you’re right. Remember how much Friends made fun of Chandler for having a boring job that just made ends meet? It’s definitely a very Gen-X thing that I’ve had to unlearn. I have a job in my “dream” industry, but I decided that I’ve gone as far up the ladder as I want. I don’t need to be the executive director and lose all of my free time.

      I also think if people would put more effort into finding interests outside of work, it would be easier to just find the job that allows you to do those things and appreciate that.

      1. Reality Check*

        Oh my gosh I was going to mention “Friends.” I’m roughly their age and there was no way in hell I could afford an apartment like theirs in my little po-dunk town, much less in a city. For a while there that show had me believing I was doing something wrong. You’re right though. I’m all about balance now.

        1. Zelda*

          Wasn’t that a whole bunch of the scthick, though? The main apartment was Ross & Monica’s grandmother’s, and they were basically squatting there and trying to conceal her death from the landlord so they wouldn’t lose the lease/ the rent control? Not very realistic as to how long you can play musical sublets and lie to your landlord about who the tenants are, but kinda realistic about how two twenty-somethings get a place with a living room big enough for six friends and their favorite film crew…

  10. Elise*

    As a librarian, I really wish the article delved slightly deeper into what the “other services” libraries provide are. The quote at the end about a “book church” is such an antiquated view of public libraries. We are providing internet access and job search assistance (such a needed resource right now) in addition to all of the “traditional” services. As a librarian focused on adult services, I would be more than useless at child care for any kid that isn’t my own.

  11. DEJ*

    I lost my overworked/underpaid/competitive industry ‘dream job’ after 18 years in all of this because it was also a hard-hit industry. Thankfully I found another job quickly – where I work 9-5, am making more money, and so far have been nothing but respected, so believe me that I am quickly mentally reframing how to think about work.

  12. Rayray*

    Definitely agree with the article about dream jobs. At 31, I definitely haven’t had any exciting or glamorous jobs. When I meet new people and tell them what I do, it’s always an “Oh…” response. It used to bother me that I didn’t have a cool job to talk about, but I’ve realized now that any dream job I had in mind before absolutely will not happen unless I freelance or go to an employer who will not offer me flexibility or any other simple benefit I love. I’ve accepted that it’s fine to have a job I simply go to each day, do the work, and go home. The option to choose my hours and get plenty of holidays and PTO is something I really appreciate. While I would like to eventually do something different than what I am doing now, I’m actually at a company I’d be very interested in staying with if possible. I may pursue writing on my own some day, but I don’t expect to have it be a full-time office job for me ever. I’m considering doing an IT certification course or maybe trying to find another dept at my company I could pursue eventually so I can have better pay and ability to work remotely.

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