taking work calls on my honeymoon, traveling after graduating, and more

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

1. Do I really need to take calls from work on my honeymoon?

I’m getting married this weekend! Yay! I’m taking two weeks off for the honeymoon. The original plan was to go to Hawaii, but due to the times, we are staying put. I thought about cancelling or shortening the time off, but I decided that I had few enough opportunities to celebrate so I needed to take advantage of the one thing this year that is an absolute good in my life.

However, some big changes are looming at my company that’s all very hush hush right now. I only know because of my position. I wear a lot of hats at work (small company) — IT, budgets, office management, contracts, vendor management, marketing, etc. I am very involved in this hush hush big change, and I know that things can’t just be put on hold because I’m not there.

I’ve done everything I can to prepare for the two weeks: given account access to other senior people, written up detailed documentation, talked through items that might occur until I’m blue in the face, etc. But my boss is not satisfied. She wants me to promise I would be available if “something came up.”

I’m going to be on my HONEYMOON! I have had this time off planned and approved since January! I have been struggling this whole year (started working with a therapist and was prescribed antidepressants because my mental health was deteriorating), and I really want to unplug and recharge. But with everything going on with the business, I don’t know how hard of a line I can draw. All information that would be needed is filed so those with access can see it, so I am not needed to actually access any info, but I am likely to know more easily and quickly what that info is or where it’s located or which vendor to reach out to.

Do I tell her that if it’s an emergency they can text, and I’ll get back when I can? Do I say I won’t be available at all? If I were going to Hawaii as planned, I really would be more out of touch, but it’s harder to convince people when you’re staying home.

You’re going on your honeymoon and the time off has been approved since January. Say you won’t be available at all. If it helps it go down easier, say you and your fiancé have promised each other for months that you’ll turn off all devices and be unavailable during this time. (You shouldn’t have to say that, but sometimes that kind of thing can help.) You can also say if it were anything other than your honeymoon you’d find a way to be flexible but it’s not possible for this.

If you anticipate a lot of pushback, it might be more effective to be vaguer: “I can’t promise anything, we’ll probably have our phones off most of the time…” and then keep yourself unavailable. Change your outgoing voicemail message to say, “I’m on my honeymoon and unavailable until (date) and will get back to you then.” And then just don’t respond.

This doesn’t sound like a situation where you’re the only one who could help in an emergency; it sounds like it would just save them some time and energy, and that doesn’t meet the bar for making you work on your honeymoon.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Traveling after graduating

I am a third year college student and I’ve been reading your blog for years. It’s helped me avoid bad resume advice and feel a lot less anxious about the world after I finish school. Right now I have a more long-term question. I am very disappointed that I will be unable to study abroad due to the pandemic. I had been looking forward to it for years. However, now I have the opportunity to graduate a semester early. I am considering using the savings I had set aside to study abroad to travel instead for a few months after I graduate (assuming it’s safe by then). My parents are concerned that having any period of time between when I graduate and when I start working will be a blemish on my resume that I will have to explain for the rest of my life. I understand that if I waited to travel until after I had been working for a few years that wouldn’t look great to employers, but do you agree that I need to start work immediately after I graduate? Is it really going to be that harmful in the long run to wait a couple of months before applying for jobs?

Here’s the advice I would have given you before Covid: Nah, you’re probably fine. There are a handful of industries that hire graduating seniors on a fairly strict schedule — like they’ll have a class of new hires who graduated in the spring, and if you miss that it can be hard to get in the door with them as an entry-level hire. But they’re the exception; most employers don’t hire that way. Traveling for a few months before you start your job search isn’t likely to be a big deal.

Here’s the advice I have to give now: I don’t know! None of us really know how the job market is going to shake out right now, but one thing that’s clear is that there’s a lot more competition than normal because so many people have lost their jobs this year. New grads will be competing against people with more experience who are wiling to work for less money than they used to be, so I’d be more cautious than usual about doing anything else that would put you at a disadvantage. Traveling for a few months after graduation probably won’t do that, but look at the state of the job market your senior year before you decide anything for sure. (And to be clear, that’s not about employers caring that you took a few months off to travel — they won’t — it’s about how long your job search might end up being. Your degree is just as fresh in August as it is in May … but if you don’t start searching until August and then your search takes months because the job market is bad, at some point it is going to seem more stale, and employers interested in new grads will be focusing on the class after you.)

3. How can I explain declining to recommend a former friend?

Someone I was very close to in college, but have since drifted apart from, has had a career change and is entering my industry. We used to be nearly best friends for our early years as this person was very charismatic, but I stopped contact after I realized they were actually quite manipulative and vindictive. Perhaps somewhat relevant, I saw them working at their on campus job regularly, and they were not a reliable employee.

We have not spoken in about three years since graduating, aside from the occasional birthday wishes. They’ve since requested a referral to an open role at my company. I’ve reviewed their portfolio, and even if we were on good terms, I don’t feel like it’s up to the standards my team would expect. It covers skills we are looking for, but there were multiple errors that I noticed immediately.

To be honest, I don’t even want to give them advice on why their portfolio is lacking, and there’s no way I’d actually refer them to my company. Still, we share a lot of mutual connections from college (again, they’re very charismatic and still fairly popular in our circles), and I’m concerned about burning bridges. Is there an elegant way out that won’t give them much reason to go scorched earth and badmouth me to our mutual connections? Am I being too harsh on someone whose work ethic may have changed in the past few years?

You’re not being too harsh. Of what you know of this person, they’re unreliable, manipulative, and vindictive — each of which on its own is a reason not to recommend someone. And yes, it’s possible they’ve changed in the last three years, but you also know they have errors in their current work. You don’t owe anyone a recommendation or referral; in fact, you owe it to your company to not vouch for someone who you have a negative opinion of.

One option is to say something like, “For this role, I know we’re really looking for X but I’d be glad to tell you if that changes,” where X is something they don’t have (a strong background in Y, more years of experience, or so forth). But if there’s no plausible way to do that, another option is to just be vague — “Let me see what I can do!” or similar, without any promise to take a specific action.

4. Our bad manager is driving away all our staff

I work for a small company of about 25 employees and no HR. We’ve got two managers and a semi-retired owner. Since the pandemic started, one of our managers basically forced the other out of his position and now he’s a regular employee, allowing her to unilaterally make decisions. Unfortunately her handling has been extremely reactive, and she works from home a lot, meaning she is very out of touch with her employees’ experience living with her decisions — reopening without consulting staff to figure out their comfort levels, abruptly changing schedules and job descriptions, and more. Recently we lost three long-time staffers due to her — two to extreme abuse at the hands of customers that could have been prevented had a manager been there instead of at home, and a third to overwork. The third is a sad case of our manager stomping on her boundaries and repeatedly calling her on her days off to cover shifts and answer emails, even though she was told to stop by that employee. We’ve got another staffer about to quit for that same reason.

How do I tell her that she needs to back off a bit before we lose the rest of our staff? The rest of us are afraid to say anything because she has a habit of ignoring unpleasant truths, especially since she was explicitly told why those people quit and she changed nothing.

If she has a habit of ignoring unpleasant truths and she’s already been told why the other people quit, do you have any reason to think speaking up will change anything? Unless you have particularly strong influence with her, it doesn’t sound like it’s likely to make much difference — especially because it’s not one lone thing she’s doing (potentially easier to stop) but rather is a pattern of bad judgment and poor management skills (much harder to fix). If you’re going to talk to anyone, it sounds like it needs to be the owner, who may not realize that the three recent resignations were due to this manager (with a fourth on the way).

5. How do I figure out work-from-home expenses?

Our small office shut down due to Covid in March. I now go in once a week to do work I can only do in the office but work from home the rest of the week. At home I use my personal laptop and home printer. Although I took home a ream of paper for my printer, I’m beginning to realize that much of my printing is work-related and I’m replacing my ink cartridges more frequently. And I haven’t been keeping track of whether or not I’ve used more than a ream of paper so far. (Most likely, I have.) Also, I’m using my computer much more each day due to work. Recently, its charge time has gone down by half and I’ll need to replace its battery. When I first started working from home, my boss tried to load the Windows Office Suite on my laptop. It didn’t load and my personal version of the Word Suite disappeared. To get it back, I’ll need to buy a new copy. We think it was because she tried to load a PC version on my Mac but we’re not sure what went wrong. Since I can use the Apple versions (Pages, Numbers, etc.) instead, we haven’t really addressed this.

My productivity is much higher higher at home since I have so many fewer interruptions. So, my boss agrees that working from home can continue until the pandemic is over and possibly longer. She’s talked about budgeting for a laptop to replace my office desktop computer which I could also use at home. Although that would solve my computer costs, I’m much more comfortable with my Mac—I’d just like a Mac version of Windows Office loaded on my laptop. Or is that a bad idea? (I don’t save anything work related onto my computer, only on USB sticks to keep work and home files separate. And I use Chrome only for work and other servers for my personal use.) And what about the other expenses—battery life, printer ink and printer wear and tear, etc.? How do I determine what I should be asking for in terms of home office expenses? Or should I be itemizing home office expenses on my taxes instead? (Although I don’t pay that much in taxes right now so I wonder if I’d really recover the expenses in the first place.)

The basic principles are that doing your job shouldn’t cost you money and your employer should cover its own costs of doing business. That means they pay for your paper, ink cartridges (if you use them for personal stuff too, figure out a rough percentage for work use), computer, and whatever else you need to do your job. I’d avoid using your personal laptop if given the choice; even if you prefer working on a Mac. Using your own computer as your main work machine blurs the lines too much, and it’s hard to figure out (much less get) appropriate compensation for wear and tear. Until/unless that happens, they should cover the cost of your new battery since if you don’t get it, you can’t do your job. They also should reimburse you for the app your manager deleted if indeed you need to buy a new copy (but make sure you really do; normally you’d be able to just re-download it unless you had a very old version).

Don’t rely on itemizing home office expenses on your tax return; that deduction went away for almost everyone but the self-employed last year.

{ 360 comments… read them below }

  1. many bells down*

    Several MS Office products simply don’t work on a Mac, #5. If you need to use say, Publisher, you just can’t (a problem my boss ran into working from home).

    I sympathize though, because I was using my personal laptop when we started WFH in March, and now I’m realizing it’s going to be over a year of WFH, but my laptop is much better than anything my nonprofit can offer me so I don’t know what to do about that.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      As an aside – you can Windows software on a Mac using a virtual machine, as long as you have the correct license for the Windows OS, and a virtual machine program.

      If you’re using your own computer for both work and home, it can help to set up a personal and a work account. That way all the files/email accounts/web browser history are kept with the appropriate account without things crossing over, and you can switch out of the work account at the end of the day. On Mac, switching between the two is easy – I’m not sure about Windows.

      1. Mookie*

        Or partition one’s hard drive to run a separate operating system (compatible with the preferred software), yes?

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, though I would caution against that if you don’t know what you’re doing, probably easier to screw it up than a VM?

          1. Worldwalker*

            Someone who tries (or let’s someone else try) to install Windows software on a Mac shouldn’t be trying to set up a VM, let alone partitioning a drive and setting up dual boot. That won’t end well.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                I’ve never seen the phrase “greengrocer’s apostrophes” before but it makes perfect sense and I love it. (Or should I say it make’s perfect sense?)

                1. TooTiredToThink*

                  I really also just wanted to add that I, too, am adding greengrocer’s apostrophes to my lexicon. It’s brilliant ;)

      2. Jack Be Nimble*

        The lowest-tech solution might be to install a second browser, sign into work accounts there, and use the browser versions of the MS Office suite. I have to use my personal device in my current role, and I downloaded Chrome to sign into my work accounts. None of my personal info is stored there, it’s all in Firefox.

        1. Autistic AF*

          Document formatting is often messed up in MS Office’s webapps, and they have limited functionality vs the desktop app. Unfortunately I only find this out on the fly!

    2. A Cat named Brian*

      I purchased the MAC version of MS Office and it works fine. My office was strictly PC until they hired me. I just negotiated for a MAC and offered to make sure to handle problems if they arose. I sure the email system 365 thru the web. Def separate work and home use of computers. If anything legal happens with your company or projects, your home computer can be confiscated.

    3. ThatMarketingChick*

      From personal experience, some documents created on a Mac do not behave 100% the same on a PC. I was finalizing a Word document, PDFing it, and could not – for the life of me – figure out why everything kept bumping one line, throwing off the pagination of a very full document with a strict page limit. Turns out, it’s because the document was built in Word on a Mac and I use a PC. There was enough of a difference in the program (font, spacing, whatever) to cause the lines to bump. I spent hours trying to figure it out until a graphic designer friend of mine pointed this out.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        My husband’s doctoral thesis ended up with all of the spaces between words deleted, a week before he defended, because he used Windows and his advisor had a Mac.

        He had to sit and manually re-add every space between every word for a 100+ page thesis.

        1. Not playing your game anymore*

          And this is why you never let anyone touch the only copy… especially not a faculty person. This whole “onedrive” teams mess where anyone can edit. Shudder.

          1. KRM*

            Yes my computer is always asking if I’m sure that I don’t want to share the file. No, I want them to have a copy. I don’t want them making changes that get saved to my file.

        2. JustaTech*

          And I thought the weird fault in my (ancient) copy of Word that ate every 100th space was annoying!

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That happened with a grant I was working on. 2 sections were done on a Mac and the rest on PCs. Formatting nightmare ensued

        1. Argye*

          A friend of mine prepared a talk to give at a professional conference on a Mac. The conference had PCs. All of his bullets for bullet points got turned into smiley faces, and he didn’t have time to fix it. In front of an audience of 500. This remains a nightmare of mine.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              Yes! Unless you’re collaborating to write or edit the document, always make it a pdf to send out. And always keep a copy of your original.

    4. Gt*

      I had Word on my Mac for a long time, it stopped working after one of the recent OS updates. The only solution is to buy a new license. Excel and Powerpoint (from the same license) still work just fine.

    5. Alica*

      Yeah, I’m on my personal laptop as they were like gold dust back in March when we went into lockdown, so they only bought bog standard models for my colleagues who didn’t have one of their own. 7 months later and I’m still at home! However, we’re using remote desktop to log into our work computers, so I don’t have to install any software on my laptop beyond that, and there’s nothing work related stored on the laptop itself. It’s a 4 year old laptop anyway so the battery was already knackered, but I am using it a heck of a lot more than I was prior to this.

    6. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’m a mac user at my office and all of the apps in Office 365 work just fine. I’m on a Mac Pro though not a laptop so maybe that makes a difference (?). Since my employer has a site license, it doesn’t matter if it’s mac or windows, and I can use 365 apps on my mobile devices too but that’s buggy as hell. The OPs employer should 100% get a site license for cloud-based software so everyone is using the same versions of software.

    7. Tidewater 4-1009*

      I don’t have a spreadsheet program on my Mac. When I volunteered to do some data entry and received an Excel document, a google docs sheet worked well.
      OP might want to check if their company’s security allows working with google docs. I’ve used both word processing and spreadsheets and they’re almost as versatile as the Windows programs.

    8. Even if a personal computer works...*

      In addition to things that will/won’t work at all, the way some of the differences were described, like expecting using a thumb drive to mitigate issues of auto-saves and metadata and talking about using Chrome (ugh) for work and other “servers” for personal use, my advice as an actual IT person would be that I’m very sorry for personal preference but being issued a work machine is mandatory here (or figuring out enough on-site support to get properly set up with a VM, maybe, if the personal machine is powerful enough, and the data isn’t too sensitive, and if the workplace has licensing to do that, and Apple moving to ARM is about to make that way more complicated for new machines in coming months).

      I’m glad Alison points out how badly using a personal machine for work blurs the line. It’s really unfortunate that we’ve let businesses start doing this whole BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) thing, and the way mobile devices work hasn’t helped much with the common perception of the work/home divide either.

      I would say that as a society we need to return to the normalized expectation that workplaces provide computing resources for security (of the workplace data), privacy (of the individual), and costs. That last one both hurts the individual (who has to pay to maintain personal hardware of a certain level) and the workplace (where the IT people have to expand from supporting, like, 3 models of computer and one or two software configurations to hundreds of each).

    9. mgguy*

      I’ve been a Mac user for a long time, and exist well in a Windows-dominated environment. I elect to use my personal laptop over a work-provided one wherever possible.

      Office Mac can have some quirks. The 2011 version was terrible, while the 2016 version seems to have feature-parity with the Windows version and I’ve never run into cross compatibility issues. My biggest issue that I occasionally see is that I will use fonts that aren’t necessarily standard in Windows like Helvetica and Garamond, and those can cause weird formatting issues. If I want them to stay that way, I send things in a PDF. Otherwise, I use Georgia(a nice looking serif font that’s considered one of the 7 core “standard” fonts) as a poor substitute for Garamond, and the tolerable Calibri(never nasty Arial) for a serif font.

      In the past, I have seen cross platform issues. I remember back in grad school passing a poster(as a .ppt file) back and forth with my advisor for revisions, and on a tight timeline since as usual he’d waited until the last minute and I had a deadline to get it to the pint shop so I’d have it for the conference I was attending the next day. He told me 3 times to remove the “weird text behind my title” and in his last email put it in all caps. I couldn’t see what on earth he was talking about until I pulled it up on a Windows computer, and sure enough there it was. There again, the version the print shop got was a PDF.

      I work so much more efficiently on a Mac, and I think most people can if they take the time to learn how simple a lot of the baked-in keyboard shortcuts and other features that are only now migrating to Windows can work better on them. It’s still a preference thing, though-I didn’t switch over automatically know how to do everything. I was a Windows “power user” for a while, but I’m constantly amazed at how much better and more intuititve a lot of the same Mac “power user” features are(special characters are a big one, and often you can make an educated guess on a Mac and get it right on the first try-stuff like º, é and ¢ that require a trip to the character map or an arbirtrary alt code on Windows are kind of intuitive).

      Off my soap box, though, there are things I use that only work on Windows, and often with no feasible work-around for Macs. Most general purpose software is written cross-platform these days, though.

  2. talos*

    #2, you may be able to ask for (or negotiate for) a start date that is much later after you graduate–so you can graduate in May with an offer already signed, but not start your job until late July or something like that. This may not be possible in all fields, but in many it would be worth a shot.

    1. LDF*

      Yes, in my field this would be totally fine, especially since you’re graduating a little early so many new grads will be starting later anyway.

    2. ThePear8*

      I’m in a similar boat to #2 and I have been thinking about this! While I’m prepared for the answer to be no, I ideally would love to take a long break after graduation to just recover from the burnout of studying my butt off for the last four years. I’m already on the lookout for job opportunities so I can hopefully have something lined up, but am hoping maybe I’ll be able to ask for a later start date that will give me that break I need.

      1. Anonymous College Advisor*

        If you are applying to larger companies (like, national/international firms), they may already be on a 9-month cycle. That is, they hire now for start dates in August, which would allow for travel even with a May graduation. A lot depends on field/company but in my experience working with students, it’s more common for offers issued in the fall to start the following July than it is for them to start immediately after graduation in May.

        And yes, it’s absolutely possible to negotiate for a later start to travel. Enough new grads need/want a break that employers usually won’t find it an odd or inappropriate request, even if they can’t honor it.

    3. Roeslein*

      Yes, my field (management consulting) has standard hiring cycles for new grads but those are for interviews, it’s usually fine to defer your start date by a few months – so you could e.g. sign in April but start in November.

    4. Voodoo Priestess*

      Yes! This is worth considering. In my industry, most May grads have jobs lined up by January, so we hire early. I graduated the first week of May but didn’t start until the first week of July because I was getting married, going on a honeymoon, moving states, etc. They were fine with it! Honestly, I think most employers would rather negotiate a later start date than have you want to take a vacation in 6 months. And traveling between school is work is completely normal and acceptable (in my white collar profession).

      I would definitely recommend interviewing early and waiting until you have a job offer to negotiate dates. I think if you used covid, they’d be even more understanding. You couldn’t travel due to restrictions, this is a natural break, etc.

      I think this works for 1-2 months. If you’re wanting to travel for 4+ months, they may not be agreeable to pushing that date out that far.

    5. Elenna*

      Yes – this is how my sister did it, negotiated a job with a company where she did a co-op term, and asked to start in August after graduating in April so she could travel for a few months in between. (Unfortunately for her plans, this was August and April of 2020…)

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I did that on my first job. Granted it was government so the timeline from hire to start date was long anyway, so it wasn’t a huge issue. They offered the job in May and would have had me start in July, but I asked for August. Ended up being September because some paperwork got stalled, so it all worked out.

    7. BadWolf*

      Yes, we hire college college grads that start in the summer, but the start day isn’t set. They expect new hires to start sometime in the summer. Usually our new hires are locked in mid-senior year. So if they graduated early, starting in the summer would line up with everyone else anyway.

    8. Paulina*

      Additionally, since OP2 is talking about graduating a semester early and then travelling, this may line up with “normal” start dates for new grads very well. A concern would be whether they would have the job lined up already, or if travel would potentially conflict with interviewing. There also might be opportunities available early that either the OP could grab if they’re available, or might lean on them to start early and forego the travel. (I’ve seen quite a few students try to rush their last year, with varying success, due to such offers. I expect that these students would’ve had other offers for their normal finish date if they’d waited, however, and probably shouldn’t’ve let their prospective employer push them.) That just means OP2 should have refundable plans just-in-case, not plan to not go. Sounds like a great idea overall.

      1. MrsFillmore*

        LW #2 – Alison’s response makes sense from a competitiveness perspective, with good caveat already noted by other commenters that graduating early likely helps with your timeline.

        From a more personal perspective, I just wanted to encourage you to go for the travel if it’s important to you. You’re right, it will always be harder to find the time later on.

        One other idea is to consider whether Peace Corps of other international volunteering opportunities might be right for you after graduation. This isn’t a good option if travel is your main goal, but could be a good fit if the type of contributions required of international volunteers are ones that you want to make. I happened to be abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer during the 2008 financial crisis, and found that the timing worked out in my favor because I gained professional experience while avoiding a job search during the highest period of unemployment in the US.

        If you’re a regular reader here, you already have a huge advantage over other early career job seekers. I think you can make the travel work and good luck!

        1. Wish I Had Done It*

          Also from a personal perspective, what MrsFillmore said 100%. The next 40-odd years are likely to be traveling for a week or two here and there. If you can do it now, go. Enjoy. It would be worth it and looking back I so wish I had done this instead of taking a random job that I ended up hating instead.

    9. Auslander*

      Consider other opportunities after graduation to live & work abroad rather than just traveling on your own dime. Fulbright scholarships are available to many countries and look amazing on a resume – and depending on the country & the type of program, may not be as competitive as you might expect. There are also tons of programs to teach English abroad. Or the Peace Corps. Use your time in college to take language classes if there’s a particular place you’d like to go.

  3. Jeep driver*

    LW 1: Tell your boss plans changed and you’re now going camping for your honeymoon. In a place that happens to have terrible phone reception.

    This is why I used to travel internationally for all my vacations lol.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      A little cabin in the woods: perfect for all your 2020 vacation needs. Socially isolated, saves money for places you actually want to go, limited travel distance, and of course no cell reception!

      1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        Obviously if LW1 did choose this response, they would have to ensure that neither they nor their spouse posted any social media updates during their honeymoon!

        1. virago*

          … They would have to ensure that neither they nor their spouse posted updates to social media during their honeymoon!

          A break from social media might make for a refreshing change during their honeymoon.

          Or to put it another way, that’s a feature, not a bug, of saying that you’re staying in a place with limited internet access, heh.

      2. Lady Heather*

        I’ve been told there’s a Radiation Quiet Zone in Virginia where you aren’t allowed to have a cell phones, microwaves, and cars that aren’t old diesels?

        Looked it up: US National Radio Quiet Zone, which is half in West Viriginia, half in Virginia, and a tenth of a per cent in Maryland. Apparently it’s got entire cities in it, if camping isn’t your thing.

        1. Khatul Madame*

          You must be referring to the area around the Green Bank Observatory. There is no cell reception in that zone, but residents are allowed certain types of microwaves, and any kinds of cars. They do have car traffic going through, so banning newer cars would be impractical.
          To make my post less off-topic, there is not much to do in that area in this season… making it ideal for a honeymoon?

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Lying has real potential for disaster – and to avoid the disaster you’ll have to keep the lie in mind, which can be draining.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yup. On the other hand, going vague is another matter entirely. Does work know the happy couple is cocooning at home? If so, telling them was a huge mistake, as interrupting a staycation likely seems, to the employer, like barely an imposition at all. But if they don’t know that, just don’t read any messages, and when you get back explain that you didn’t get them.

        1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          Yes- I don’t know why some bosses and colleagues figure it’s okay to interrupt your time off if they know you are at home. That is so intrusive and obnoxious. Bosses and colleagues who do that are saying your own personal time is not important.

        2. Autistic AF*

          Turn your home modem/wifi off intermittently and you can truthfully say that you will be staying someplace with spotty internet!

    3. Global Cat Herder*

      LW 1: When I got married 30 years ago, before cell phones, my boss asked where we were going for our honeymoon, and I mentioned the destination. “No, I meant which hotel are you staying at, so we can call if we need you.” I stuck to variations on the theme “no, and it seems really inappropriate to ask”. He kept trying to get others to back him up, and they admitted they do that for vacations (!!) but they wouldn’t for a honeymoon.

      People understand it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for you and your spouse and no one else. Work shouldn’t want to intrude on that and you shouldn’t let them. Send an email just before you leave with summary of where to find things in your absence. Set your email and voicemail to say you’re on your honeymoon and unavailable until (date). Turn off your phone, block work numbers and/or disable email (and spend a few minutes on your first day back undoing things / setting your phone back up).

      1. jojo*

        Actually you she needs to be proactive rather than reactive. My company policy is you bug an hourly employee at home and the company has to pay them for 4 hours. She needs to go to HR and find out her company policy for her pay type class.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yep! Or, as we used to call it in my on-call days, “my cabin in the mountains”. I’ll be in my cabin way up in the mountains all weekend. Don’t try to reach me. No calls ever get through. (Though grocery shopping and going on walks will then be problematic for OP and spouse.)

    5. LW1*

      I wish I could use this! Sadly, everyone knows that my fiance and I don’t drive (we rely on mass transit in the city we live in) so we can’t really go camping. I also have already asked for some restaurant recs for ordering in near the place we are staying (a suite in a fancy hotel) so they all know basically where I’m going.

        1. Daffy Duck*

          Then they will want the partner’s phone number “for emergencies.” Better to stand firm and say you will be unavailable. Really, the world won’t end if her boss can’t get ahold of her for two weeks. Boss just thinks that not having to look stuff up is more important than LW’s honeymoon. Boss is being a self-centered jerk.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        You could say that by mutual agreement you and the spouse are leaving devices at home. It is your time off and they can’t demand that you bring devices with you, and, if you are that critical to their operation, they won’t fire you either (but should be worrying that you will quit!). You mentioned elsewhere that you are currently job hunting, so I feel like you are in a good place to be firm. Even if they are crabby about this, you are planning on leaving anyway, so won’t have to deal with it for long. They are going to have to learn how to deal without at some point, so why not now?

        And congratulations!!!!!!

        1. Aphrodite*

          Ala, if the boss knows the name of the hotel where the OP is staying it doesn’t matter if they left their cell phones at home.

          1. Catherine*

            That’s solvable with a quick chat at the front desk. Generally hotels are not supposed to confirm/deny whether guests are even staying there.

      2. JustaTech*


        The part of me that has really, really terrible ideas wants to suggest, if your boss does call, picking up but sounding all flustered and out of breath, as though your boss caught you in the middle of, well, enjoying your honeymoon. This is a terrible idea, and possibly sexual harassment, but good grief, who calls someone on their honeymoon?

        I’m not sure what you can say to a boss who is so unreasonable that they want to call you on your honeymoon that will convince them to leave you alone.

        1. Ann Perkins*

          That was along the lines of what I was thinking too… treat the request like a joke because obviously it’s unreasonable. “Ha, of course you wouldn’t want to contact me on my honeymoon! I’ve had the time off planned for a while and y’all should be in good shape – even though we’re not traveling I still plan to be busy” with a big smile.

      3. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Don’t drive or don’t own a car? Rental vehicles are a thing. In any case, I don’t advocate lying, just stand firm. Employers should pay for any time requiring you to work when you are taking your vacation time. It’s ridiculous to expect any availability on your honeymoon, you aren’t married to that job! Boundaries are a thing. Congrats!

        1. LW1*

          Both! I technically have a driver’s license (and so does my partner), but neither of us has ever owned a car. I drove sporadically as a teen, but not really since. I feel like I might be more of a road hazard at this point!

      4. AnonHoneymooner*

        I’ve been in your super exact position as the “indispensable one that wears 12 hats” including wanting to be “promised that I would be available”. Upon which I kept repeating “I won’t promise that. This is my honeymoon.” with a quarter’s worth of notice and documentation.

        There WAS a problem that they called and left voicemails for. It ended up taking them an extra two days to fix, and my boss had an attitude in his voice when I got back. I used that as justification to get an assistant for my role (the person that ended up fixing the problem actually. It was a promotion for them too.) It was a risk, but it paid off because I have seniority and am a high performer at a place that notoriously ran everything on skeleton crews.

        Management should absolutely know and prepare for processes that have a low “bus factor” (min # of knowledgeable people that could get hit by a bus and not have production stall).

        1. Kikikins*

          I was in a similar situation LW1. My husband and I took off 2 weeks to get married this summer. My boss wound up calling me while I was away to share company layoffs (a couple of my direct reports were let go). I still wish I hadn’t answered the phone, it’s not something I want to remember about our wedding trip. Stick to your guns, and don’t answer the phone.

    6. AlAlAlAl*

      Personally I would very tempted to answer the phone the first time with constant interruptions of fake groans of orgiastic pleasure, shouting, thumping and dropping of the phone.
      “Yes, the AHHH AHHHH AHHHHHH file is in the OOOHH YESSS YESSS in the in the YESS YESS YESSSSS. Oooooooh, sorry what was the question again ?”

  4. alienor*

    #2 says they have an opportunity to graduate a semester early–wouldn’t that mean they’d be done with school in December/January of their senior year and traveling in the spring, while the rest of their cohort are finishing up those last few classes? Then they’d be back in May and ready to job search at the same time as everyone else; the only “gap” would be because their graduation date would be a few months earlier.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah – and if they’re a 3rd year student now, this would potentially be for the travel in the spring of 2022 – what would otherwise be the second half of their senior year. I’d probably wait and see how the job market and travel situation is looking a year from now and weigh my options then.

    2. Dan*

      Most people are interviewing *before* May graduation, hoping to line something up for soon after. If I were OP, I wouldn’t be on the road in April and May.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, interviewing really all senior year. At my Big 10 university, recruiters came to campus starting in October or November.
        Not everyone has a place to go after graduation, if they don’t get a job to pay for a place to live. Financial aid formulae don’t leave students with a lot of unused savings at graduation.
        Doesn’t sound as though that’s the case with OP, if they have money to travel, but how long can they manage without an income?

    3. Atalanta Sans Apples*

      Yeah, I was coming here to mention this! And they say they’re only interested in traveling for a couple of months, so I think they’d probably be back by the time all of the rest of their cohort also start applying for jobs. They could even plan to be back in April so they could get a head start on those seniors graduating in May.

    4. allathian*

      If they have the opportunity to graduate a semester early, they could also start interviewing early. Traveling is great and can give you a broader perspective, but in this job market, I wouldn’t necessarily spend any money I’d put by on travel, because you don’t know how long it’ll take to get that first job… That said, if you can afford it, a couple of months is unlikely to be a big deal, as long as it’s safe to travel by the time you graduate early, especially as you would have spent your last semester abroad if it wasn’t for COVID.

      I spent a semester in France when I was in college, and then I did a summer internship in Spain just before I graduated. Both were great experiences for me, especially the internship. I was a student when I left and an independent adult capable of taking care of myself anywhere when I got back home. The internship did delay my graduation for a semester, because I wasn’t able to write my Master’s thesis that summer (I never got a Bachelor’s degree, the university program I took was for a Master’s from the start, as most were here in the 1990s).

    5. CoffeeLover*

      Ya to be honest I don’t really see the issue. I got my new-grad job offer in October, graduated in December, and started working the following August. That’s a bit of an extra case, but most of my classmates took at least 4 months off during the summer before starting.

      TLDR what I would do if I were you: Start applying for jobs NOW and see where you get. Continue applying while traveling and be open to flying back if needed. Considering the situation with COVID, you can’t plan your travel that far in advance anyway and need to be flexible to cut those plans short.

      I say you should start applying now because even if you get a job offer now, you’re not likely to start for a while. Large companies with new-grad programs and certain industries (like consulting) hire significantly in advance and have regular intake periods for new-grads once or twice a year that they don’t move around. If you target these, you have a good shot of landing a job before you go with significant time before your start date.

      Alternatively (if you’re targeting a different kind of industry or smaller firms), pack a laptop and a suit (or your industry’s equivalent) and apply for jobs while travelling. Many companies are doing remote interviews these days. Especially if you’re apply for companies that tend to hire out of state candidates – they will be less likely to fly people in for interviews now. Worst case scenario, if the opportunity is that amazing and the company requires in-person interviews, fly back. Hopefully by then, you’ll be towards the end of your trip anyway.

      A commentary on the economic situation: some companies/industries have been hurt by corona (hence the layoffs), but others have actually benefited – many tech firms and companies that successfully moved online for example. I don’t know what kind of profession you’re in, but there are still a lot of good opportunities out there, and most industries that were hurt by COVID are seeing a major bounce back in their revenue despite continuing cases. It will take a while for unemployment to go back to pre-COVID times, but we’re reaching some kind of new normal and unemployment IS falling.

    6. Firecat*

      And even then, they don’t have to put the month so their wouldn’t even be a gap.

      University A 2021

      Is all that’s needed.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume there’s a cohort ie it’s not that organized that everyone graduates in 4 years so they all graduate in May.

      And I’d also expect all grads to be job hunting their final semester do the May grads job hunt starting in February or so when the LW is traveling and can’t.

      The LW should do it if, after traveling, her finances can absorb another 6 months or longer of job hunting. Even better is the possibly of finding a job and deferring the start date a few months to travel and returning to a job.

    8. Paulina*

      If OP2 is (potentially) finishing half-way through an academic year, in many universities they will have the exact same graduation date (when the degree is officially awarded) as those who take the full year. It’ll only look shorter if they list the actual end of their enrollment. And if the jobs of interest are intended for new graduates, they’ll start after that graduation date anyway, so the gap could arise quite naturally and also be easy to explain in future.

      1. LunaLena*

        This was my experience. I graduated a semester early, but I went to a school on the quarter system, not the semester system. So instead of my senior year being fall/winter/spring, I did fall/winter, and I left school in March instead of June (my school did September-June for the school year). But I was still recorded as graduating in June and was invited to walk at the June ceremony, and my diploma reflects that.

        I too was determined to travel abroad after college, and spent a month (mid-May to mid-June) in Russia with a friend who was a native to the area. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life, and I highly recommend it. I agree with everyone else that the OP should start applying early due to the uncertainties of COVID, though, and maybe even consider applying while traveling. I did that during a separate overseas trip and simply explained that I was out of the country until Date but was perfectly willing to do phone interviews or virtual interviews if needed. This meant that I had to take a phone interview at midnight local time, but at least I got the job.

  5. Willis*

    For #2, I don’t think that it looks bad to employers if you take a few months between jobs to travel once you’ve been working a few years. I have quite a few friends who’ve taken time off to travel between jobs and I wouldn’t worry about it as a resume gap if it’s something you can explain. (Or really, I wouldn’t worry too much about a 2-3 month resume gap in general, especially as you get further into your career, a couple month gap from several years ago is unlikely to matter to much to employers.) The trickier part will be planning/timing it so you have a job to come back to once you’re done traveling.

    1. JohannaCabal*

      I’ve known people who’ve done this. They work for a few years to save money then travel for an extended time before working again for a spell.

      Also, consider looking for virtual jobs where you are not tied to a location. I suspect more and more jobs will be WFH friendly. In fact, I just started at one that had been virtual even before the pandemic.

      1. Artemesia*

        Many businesses will not allow this. I know two people who did it and negotiated ‘you can return if we have an opening then’ — both came back to no job. In one case, I think they probably decided they didn’t want him and this was easier on them than firing him. But in the other, the guy had been a very productive management employee but he returned at a time of retrenchment and getting rid of the guy who had been gone was easiest.

        There will never be an easier time t do this than right after college. I’d be looking at strategies to lock down a job early or negotiate a break after hiring before assuming the job or delaying graduation till May and taking off a semester before graduation. Once your career is under way or you. have family it is much harder to take a sustained trip.

      2. jojo*

        Considering that many jobs only give 10 days of vacation per year, travel after finishing school and before starting work is a great idea. Because 10 days does not leave time for much, especially when you figure in weather days, and holidays.

    2. FrenchCusser*

      I have a 10 year gap on my resume that NO ONE has ever asked me about.

      I’m a woman, though, so I always figured they just assumed I was raising my non-existent kids.

      I haven’t found gaps to be that big of a deal.

      I would do the the travel, if I could. You only live once, you can’t make good decisions based on fear.

  6. Dan*


    There’s a few things in your letter that are worth a discussion, but probably won’t give you a direct answer to your question:

    1. Lots of times, employers looking to hire college grads tend to hire with the expectation of a spring graduation and a start time at some point after that. If you’re going to be unavailable for interviews during the main part of the hiring cycle, you could really do yourself a disservice.

    2. If you’re expecting to graduate in December and do some traveling shortly thereafter, keep in mind that most of the northern hemisphere will be in the middle of winter. Not my first choice. If you try and travel for a few months over the spring when the weather is better, that’s probably peak hiring season. As a fresh college graduate, you won’t have a lot of leverage, so trying to get employers to accommodate *your* schedule won’t be easy. They’ll be nice about it, but they probably won’t wait for your return.

    3. Where did you get this idea? “I understand that if I waited to travel until after I had been working for a few years that wouldn’t look great to employers,” There’s no need to quit your job to do that. You can bank some vacation, or possibly take some leave without pay.

    4. Traveling for extended periods of time sounds exotic, but frankly, I find it exhausting. I get a good chunk of paid leave from my job, and regularly take one month vacations. I’m exhausted at the end of that. I meet people who take six months at a crack, and I just don’t know how they do that. For really long trips abroad, it makes sense to have some sort of structured activity (like study abroad) than it does to just backpack around Europe.

    I would *not* think about this as a “‘now’ or never.” You can make opportunities to travel later. The thing with your job search, though, is that it is unknowable right now. It *will* take longer than you would like (count on that), and if the interviews are slow coming in, you’ll tell yourself, “I should have gone, it’s not like I’m getting any interviews.” OTOH, if you plan on going for like two months, and the interviews start rolling in right away, interviewers are unlikely to wait, and you don’t have any leverage to get them to. If you were only going to go for a couple of weeks, you could probably swing it.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      For #3 – there have been discussions on this blog, one recently, about how it can be really difficult to get more than a couple of weeks off at once in a lot of industries, even unpaid. A couple of months leave in a lot of jobs is really, really unusual, and as an entry level or junior employee, asking to put off your start date for a couple of months is not impossible, but could definitely cost you job offers. Before counting on that, I’d advise the OP to talk to people working in the field they’re interested in, to see how feasible this is.

      I’ve done international vacations in winter, and it’s a different experience than summer in temperate climates, but it’s definitely doable, particularly if you’re going more for museums and cultural sites than lying on the beach. Plus, off-season travel can be significantly cheaper. And if you’re going somewhere more tropical, winter can be similar to, or even more pleasant than summer.

      1. MCL*

        I’ve gone to Paris twice in February, and it’s great! Fewer tourists, fewer crowds,, wonderful museum access!

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          We do a lot of out travel in Europe in February/March for the same reason. If you pack enough snivel gear it is comfortable. Definitely remember to have your coat and some warm stuff in your carry-on, though, in case your luggage gets delayed. We learned that the hard way in Prague at the end of February.

        2. Artemesia*

          We always go to Paris in any season except Summer because we don’t like to travel when it is hot. For most of our careers we could do 3 weeks at most — and felt lucky to be able to do that. My husband did take a 3 mos unpaid break but then he was a partner in his own small firm and his partners were not happy about it but agreed.

        3. Caroline Bowman*

          I had the incredible privilege of visiting Italy in June 2019 and even whilst marveling at the various places we went, I thought ”I’m coming back in March or maybe very early April” because it was STIFLING, and I live in a very hot country, but this was sweltering.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I saved and planned and took a year off from my career when I was in my early 30s (2013) which included moving across the US (Seattle back to the Midwest), traveling around the country, and a six week trip through 9 major European cities. Travel definitely doesn’t have to be now or never.

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “keep in mind that most of the northern hemisphere will be in the middle of winter”

      Very good info. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Daisy*

        I’ve got some fun news for this dude – in the other half of the world (also popular with travellers) it will be summer! Breathtaking!

        1. jose*

          Also – winter cam be an awesome time to travel even in the Northern Hemisphere! Personally, the trip I took to Montreal in January was beautiful and fantastic, and you don’t even mind the cold with a warm bowl of poutine in front of you.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          And – brace yourselves – it is actually possible and indeed desirable to travel to many northern destinations in the winter! Like, “travelling shortly after December in the northern hemisphere” is not exactly a new thing. It’s called “ski season”.

    4. PVR*

      It may not be “now or never” but it sure gets harder and more complicated to do the older you get. IMO the time to do it is when you are relatively free of obligation from others. Before you start your career, before obligations to a partner or even kids is the perfect time to go. Not everyone enjoys traveling of course, but if you have the inclination, you should.

      1. pandas as pd*

        Very much agree with this! I put off travelling “because you can always do it later” and it turns out that once your career takes off and there is professional development, and promotions and increased responsibilities to consider it becomes MUCH harder to just drop everything and go.

      2. A*

        Yup, and a big factor can also be whether they are able to still be a dependent on their parents insurance. It may not be now or never, but after the age of 26 (if you did have the option of being covered as a dependent) it does get more complicated and expensive.

        I had plenty of friends that took a few months off around age 25 to travel etc. so they wouldn’t have to worry about the insurance issue.

      3. Some Lady*

        I agree! Extended time off in your later career is no guarantee, and if this is really important to you, I’d recommend really seeing how you can make it work. That doesn’t mean not to be practical about job hunting, savings, and the accompanying stress in those areas, it just means you’re allowed to make traveling a top priority. FWIW, I’ve interviewed people via Skype or Zoom while they were abroad, it’s fine. There will be downsides to not being personally available, but some places may be more open to remote interviews in a post-Covid world. And agree, no one will care about a few months off after graduation on a resume.

      4. Paulina*

        Also, OP2 is already putting off their travel once (since the original plan was to study abroad). There will always be a reason to put it off until later, but then you never go. It’s also worth looking at OP1’s letter for an example of how difficult it can be to get significant planned-in-advance time off respected, once you’re further along in your career.

    5. Travel fiend*

      To your point #4 – eh, heavily depends on the person. I find it reinvigorating and energising, especially if you’ve put in the time and energy to have a well-crafted itinerary and to sort most of the logistics beforehand. And winter travel isn’t bad! It can be much cheaper, and shorter queues.

      OP2 – I feel like this is a really common thing to do. Given covid and the job market, though, you might want to line up a job before you leave (also, stressing about finding one afterwards might ruin the experience). Being able to point to concrete plans might ease your parents’ anxiety too. If the hiring cycle in your industry for new grads is most active in the spring, get a temp job after you graduate, save some money, stick around until after interviews, push your start date to August or September, and go in the summer.

      Also, especially if you’re travelling internationally – give yourself some breather time between the end of the trip and starting. Re-entry/reverse culture shock is a real thing, and can be very difficult. If at all possible, give yourself a week or two to get settled, process, get used to a routine, etc.

    6. Analyst Editor*

      Banking vacation and traveling isn’t really the same. You don’t get that much – even a generous 4-5 weeks isn’t a free semester.
      There will always be more responsibilities in the future; now is the time.

  7. Anon for this*

    Wow, I never realized “let me see what I can do” is a blowoff! I’m going to have to spend some serious time re-thinking a few conversations.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        I didn’t realize that “let me see what I can do” is anything other than a blowoff.

        Of course, I was born wearing black-colored glasses that have never come off.

        1. Mookie*

          I think it’s useful and at times used for managing (especially high and unlikely) expectations and it’s vague enough on its timeline.

        2. Just J.*

          Thank you Jennifer Juniper for making me smile this morning.

          My favorite polite deferral (not blow-off, mind you /s) is “I’ll forward it on to HR.” And then do nothing with it all.

            1. pancakes*

              Sorry, somehow I thought you weren’t talking about hiring. I don’t think it’s terrible to tell a small lie about forwarding a resume.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            In this case, I think actually just forwarding it on to HR is the move. Your note to HR can be something like, “I know this person socially and am not sure they are right for this role, but here’s their info.” It sounds like they aren’t a strong candidate anyway, so you’ve covered your responsibility to both parties.

            1. Mockingjay*

              Agree. OP can also tell their acquaintance: “Oh, I’m not involved in that particular project. Your best bet is to apply through our normal process. Best of luck.”

            2. EnfysNest*

              That’s still going to sound like a recommendation to HR – if they actually forward this person’s information and don’t say anything about their known attitude problems, it will sound like they are at least fine with them being hired and it would likely reflect poorly on the LW if they actually hired the “friend” and then had issues with their attitude and performance. If LW contacts HR at all, they have to include what they know about the friend’s attitude problems at a minimum, and probably also their concerns about the portfolio quality.

              1. Artemesia*

                This. forwarding it with ‘I know them but have no idea if they are a good candidate for this job and I don’t know their work’ is still a false step if you KNOW they are manipulative twits or whatever. In that case either you do nothing or you give HR a heads up.

            3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*


              Saying you’ll do it but not intending to is lying – even a small lie. Not good.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          It’s not where I work, although we do use it usually when we’re pretty sure that there legitimately won’t be much we can do and don’t want to get the patron’s hopes up (we’re a research library. Sometimes there simply is not any material on the subject about which they’ve asked). But we still actually do see what we can do.

        4. AnonHoneymooner*

          I’ve always read it either way given the enthusiasm/steps laid out e.g.

          “You need a floozywhatsit to make your widget work. Let me see what I can do.”
          “I fixed a similar problem with ABC’s process by installing a floozywhatsit! It was pretty simple given their widget configuration and I think yours is the same. I just confirmed I have access to your widget config files. Let me see what I can do.”

      2. TotesMaGoats*

        I use it frequently when I’m not sure what my options would be but I can’t leave people hanging for a response of some kind.

    1. Lilli*

      Sometimes I don’t know for sure if I can do something so I don’t want to promise anything – but I am genuinely trying!

      1. mgguy*

        For me-if I genuinely mean it, my line is “No promises, but I’ll see what I can do, but that doesn’t mean it will be anything other than a no.” Depending on what it is, I always will kick it over to the person who might be able to handle it, but if it’s low priority to me or something that I really can’t think will happen I don’t spend a lot of time. If the person asks for a follow up I’ll answer with “I asked so-and-so, and they said they couldn’t do it” or even “So and so in that department never got back to me”(or whatever actually happened, even if it’s honestly “Sorry, x, y, and z came in for me to do and I haven’t had a chance to do it.”

    2. Language Lover*

      “Let me see what I can do” is basically “let me see what I’m willing to do.” That’s not always a brush off. It’s a neutral statement which can be anything from “I can do nothing in good conscience” to “I own the company and they’ll hire who I recommend.”

      A person’s “let me see what I can do” is usually about someone not knowing how much influence they can wield and don’t want to over promise. It just so happens that it totally works as a brush off too.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yeah. It’s just non-committal. Sometimes that’s because the person isn’t sure WHAT they can commit to, and sometimes it’s because the person doesn’t want to commit to anything at all.

        I’ve definitely used it in earnest.

      2. mgguy*

        To your point about “not knowing how much influence”, depending on how much seniority you have you mat have an informal “quota” on how much capital/how many favors you can ask in a given time, and it may not be something you want to “waste” that on. It’s a shame it works that way in some places, but it certainly does.

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “I doubt it, but let me see what I can do” is usually a blowoff.

      “Let me see what I can do” alone can range from a blowoff to “I’ll try really hard but no guarantees”

    4. Project Manager*

      Michael’s catchphrase in Burn Notice was always “I’ll see what I can do,” after which he completely solved the client’s problem. So, that’s what I think of; it’s definitely not a blow-off phrase to me. YMMV

    5. Ooh La La*

      I thought it sounded overly-committal! To me it implies that you *will* make an effort to do what the person is requesting. Seems I’m an outlier with that interpretation, though. In LW’s case, since she wants to maintain good relations, I’d say something encouraging but vague like, “I’m not involved in the hiring process for that role, but I’ll let HR know to look out for your application!”

      1. Matt*

        “I’m not involved in the hiring process for that role, but I’ll let HR know to look out for your application!”

        In the LW’s case, with an unspoken “…so they can put it right in the circular file”?

      2. feministbookworm*

        yep, I’ve done this. And I’ve actually followed through on the letting the hiring manager know part. In person, so that my facial expression and voice can convey the appropriate information.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I keep it in a neutral place where it’s neither a blow off nor a serious effort. It’s normal for people to have limits as to how much they can do. If I frame it as a blow off this will cause me to get upset/concerned. That upset does me No Good. I don’t need more upset. For my own peace, I frame it as, “Ok. I have to find someone else.” I flip into an action plan for my next step.

      Therefore, “Let me see what I can do” = “Move to the next person I think of.”

      See, you do want to hold on to one ounce of caution here. There are instances where a person may sincerely believe they cannot do anything. Then, suddenly, weeks later and opening in conversation happens and the person is right there to say something on my behalf. I have seen this one a few times now.

      Personally, I just had this happen: I knew a person would be EXCELLENT for position X. I mean OUTSTANDING. I kept saying I was going to connect this person. I think this went on for about a year and half.
      I am embarrassed to say that two months ago, I started that connection. As predicted, my person wowed the employer beyond belief. They got the job very shortly after I did the introductions because this person just has a real knack for presenting themselves and their previous experiences and current pool of knowledge. (They sound like they can handle anything that comes at them, and they actually do handle anything that comes at them.)

      Anon for this, you don’t have to rethink those old conversations. All you have to do is move forward to the next person.

    7. Banana Pancakes*

      Everything about this thread is bizarre to me. I work in customer service and I say this all day long without any subtext. “Let me see what I can do” = “Let me see what I am able to do, if anything”.

  8. Sandlapper*

    My first day of my first job out of grad school, I became involved in a company lawsuit. Since then I have refused to use my personal computer for the job except to access my business desktop. I realize this is not an option for everyone right now, but if your company is offering business laptop I’d take it.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yep, and in a prior lifetime, I was the one who was collecting your data and trying valiantly to avoid pushing to litigation review anything that was legitimately person. (My former team gets to do this now with cell phone data, which is even more intermingled than computer data – those text messages come out in one file that has to be filtered to remove personal communications, but anything on the edge of personal and business is going to be reviewed.) Physical separation of your personal data and company data is the only way to go, unless you are fine with your personal computer assets being collected as part of business litigation.

      Also, from a security standpoint, having employees use their personal laptops for company data is an absolutely terrible practice. So, so many things that can go wrong with this. Spyware and ransomware attacks are huge right now, and letting someone into your corporate data/network via an unsecured personal laptop – ugh, my IT security officer is twitching right now and doesn’t know why.

  9. Artemesia*

    Looking back from the far side of 70 I sure wish I had taken that gap year — but if you are really concerned about this don’t graduate early. Travel fall of your senior year and graduate in May and look for your job early that spring.

    1. Liz*

      I agree. Besides, there are no guarantees in life. I started applying for jobs as I neared the end of my postgrad, completed in August, but didn’t receive a job offer until the following June. In the interim, I took a couple of holidays and did some volunteering. Using those months to do something fun helped break up the monotony of the job search. Depending on your industry, there might not be many jobs to be had for a while, and because of the pandemic future employers might come to expect gaps around this time, and for a good few months to come.

    2. boink*

      I think from the far side of 70 it’s hard for you to know just how much money that unecessary extra semester could cost someone. It’s upwards of $40k in additional debt. Why do that if you don’t have to?

      1. Doc in a Box*

        I know tuition has risen astronomically in the 30-odd years, but what colleges cost $80k/year?

        1. elizelizeliz*

          University of Chicago is $81,531, Columbia is $79,752, there are dozens (hundreds?) more over $70k. The college i went to–graduated about 20 years ago–went from $31k then to $75k now. It’s mindblowing. But i thought that the commenter was originally suggesting still going the same number of semesters, but switching from Fall College/Spring No College (travel) to Fall No College (travel)/Spring College, so it wouldn’t change the expense. But i think that in a lot of schools, making a shift like that would be really difficult and you might still have to pay a significant fee if you didn’t want to unenroll and reenroll. Everything about college now seems really difficult and more expensive than it should have to be.

          1. Natalie*

            You’ve got to be looking at either graduate school tuitions or estimated costs of attendance that include room and board.

            1. Jackie Techila*

              Nope! Midwest big uni – 52k/year no room and board (grad school for “regular phds” costs the same. Don’t know about law/medical/business school)

              1. jojo*

                Many colleges require the student to live on campus at least the first year unless there is a very compelling reason not to.

            2. JustaTech*

              Sadly, no.
              When I did a college fair about 5 years ago for my undergrad, tuition alone was $70K (for a year).
              Now, my undergrad is *very* expensive, but it’s not the most expensive in the US.

            3. Marny*

              I just looked it up and my alma mater (including room and board, and living on campus is required) is $76,000 per year.

          2. Forrest*

            Does anyone who works in US university finance know what are they *spending* that money on?! UK student fees are just under £10k per student per year—research monies are separate and the research-intensive universities can crossfund student education with research money, but the rest of us are making do on £10k per student.

            Is it all going on sports? Healthcare? Top salaries for a few very fancy professors? What costs do you have that we don’t?

            1. JustaTech*

              Not healthcare!
              If it’s a school with sports, then sports (though most places try to claim this is a money-making part of the school). Some of it is salary for faculty and staff (some big universities have famously bloated administrative sides), but a lot of it is that schools in the US are young, compared to schools in the UK, and don’t have the same endowment to draw on for things like new buildings and just as a source of income.

            2. rural academic*

              I’m at a small college rather than a big university, but the majority of our operations budget is going toward people, including salaries and the health plan. Costs and demand for IT services, plus student support staff (student life, disability services, library support staff) have gone way up from 20-30 years ago.

            3. jojo*

              Fancy gyms for the football team. Fancy, unnecessary activity centers for to attract more, highing paying student body. Million plus salary for staff.

            4. Gumby*

              It’s generally available on any given university’s website. I took a quick look at my alma mater.

              62% goes to salaries and benefits – professors, grad students (who are paid piddly amounts, but some are paid), support staff, maintenance, food service, etc. It’s a lot. My university has a *large* campus and I was stunned when I found out that the buildings and grounds maintenance department on its own was as large as one of the undergraduate classes… OTOH, 8000 acres and 700 buildings won’t take care of themselves. Benefits, in our case, also has to include health insurance along with retirement matching funds, continuing education, tuition assistance for children of staff (can be up to $25k/year for 4 years for the children of any staff member who has worked there for 5+ years), transportation (paid passes on a few local public transportation agencies), etc. This could reflect a higher level of staffing than happens in many UK universities. Not sure.
              29% goes to other operating expenses. I assume this is plants for the grounds, paint for the buildings, beds for the dorm rooms (maybe?), computers for everyone, office supplies, marketing, etc.
              5% goes to financial aid. While tuition is ~$53k/year, after financial aid the average amount a student spends each year is only ~$13.6k and that includes room & board. They have a very good financial aid program in which any student whose parents make under $150k/year will not have to pay tuition. 70% of all students get some form of financial aid.
              4% goes to debt service. I really have no idea. The university has a positive balance and is sitting on a huge endowment. I’m sure there is a reason, I just don’t know what it is. Though they *have* built several new buildings on campus in the past 15 years or so, maybe that?

            5. Dr.X*

              The main thing in the US is that public funding for universities is gone (administrative bloat is also a problem).

          3. ThatGirl*

            My alma mater runs about $66k a year (tuition + room & board) at full price – it was closer to $25k when I was there (graduated in ’03). But it’s a small liberal arts college that offers almost everyone tuition assistance.

      2. Where's Busy Bee?*

        Because life is for living and enjoying and if they feel comfortable financially doing it, I would never advise a young person who wants to travel, not to! Everyone has to make their own money vs. fun trade-offs, let’s not kill someone’s joy if they want to do this and can afford to.

      3. doreen*

        I’m not sure where that debt is coming from if the OP travels in the fall semester and then graduates at the end of the spring semester. It’s not an extra semester. Sure, some colleges will charge a fee for taking the fall semester off, but not full tuition.

        1. GothicBee*

          I agree there shouldn’t be much in the way of extra costs if they are truly taking that semester off entirely (though depending on their university, they could still incur some fees), but if they receive any federal financial aid, including federal loans, it’s going to make them ineligible for aid for that time period when they’re not enrolled and may throw off their ability to receive aid in the spring. Also, it could affect their program. They’d definitely need to look into everything very closely if they go that route and make absolutely certain it won’t mess anything up. Personally, I’d probably want to just graduate first as it makes it less likely that you will incur any extra cost or mess up your financial aid package.

      4. Mystery Bookworm*

        I don’t think Artemesia is suggesting an extra semester, but rather re-arranging the timing so that OP will graduate with the rest of her class, but already have the travel out of the way.

        I know at my university that could be done without incurring any additional debt (at least related to school, obviously travel has its own costs).

    3. In-House and Happy*

      Saying this as a 25 year old: Completely agreed. If you can make it work, do it. Life is so short, and even though the job market is scary right now, you’ll never be fresh out of college again. I understand the anxiety around graduating and feeling the need to find a job ASAP (especially if you’re based in the US), but you won’t look back and wish you got a job faster. You’ll look back and wish you had taken the chance and traveled.

      Of COURSE you will have opportunities to travel down the road, but it will never be this specific circumstance or stage of life. Especially since your study abroad window has been impacted by COVID.

    4. Reluctant Manager*

      +1 (though far side of 40).

      This is 100% industry dependent. I was hired into an established program and only took a couple weeks after graduation… But in my field (media/publishing), entry level jobs come open any time of year, many at least as good as the program I was hired into. I could have pushed for a later start date or just taken more time before finding a job–though that was in a booming economy. Actually, if I’d done something interesting, I might have had a better chance finding a job!

      When you get older you might be able to take vacation and might have more money, but you’ll probably have more obligations and higher needs for comfort when you travel. Still, an old colleague just started teaching English in Morocco after her son went to college, so with creative planning it’s possible to spend meaningful time abroad after starting a career.

      Do some research and make your best call–but know that there probably isn’t one right answer or an only chance.

  10. Molly B.*

    #5: I have a MacBook Pro, and had to start working from home (actually a very similar situation: I would go in one day a week to print checks and do other things I couldn’t do at home). Instead of needing to get all the Windows office software on my Mac, we just set up a remote access client to log on to my desktop at work, and it circumvents the whole issue. (There are a few little irritating things like having to remember different hot key commands, etc.) This is also nice because I don’t have to save any work files to my personal computer. Oh, and the client we use also has a remote printing feature so I can still print to my home printer. (My boss approved my taking paper home and told me to keep him informed of any other expenses, like toner.)

    It doesn’t solve all the issues, like wear and tear on the personal machine, but it does get rid of the Mac vs. PC issue. The only other thing I don’t like is that my work desktop is kind of tiny on my laptop screen and I end up zooming in on everything. But it works!

    1. WellRed*

      This sounds horrible but I’m glad it works for you. Second the notion of New software for the MAc, but do your homework.

      1. pancakes*

        Why horrible? I’ve frequently used this type of set-up, and don’t have a problem with my work desktop being tiny. I think it’s great for those of us who are long-time Mac users but sometimes have to use Windows products for work.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Agreed; it’s not even close to horrible, it’s actually almost my preferred solution (Linux on the client and a virtualized rdc/vnc host).

    2. Dancing Otter*

      I always had a company laptop during my consulting career, but a LOT of clients insisted on the remote access client. Their IT Security folks were twitchy enough about letting outsiders into their systems at all.

    3. Alica*

      I have a regular 24″ extra screen plugged into my laptop for my remote desktop. I could not deal with the weird sizing on my laptop! I did steal a screen from work to start with (as I have two screens, and the remote desktop sizing goes even more crazy with that) but it broke maybe 3 months into lockdown? I have a new screen at work if I need to get it, but I have a spare one at home so I’ve been using that instead.

      1. Molly B.*

        Yeah, I actually flirted with the idea of screencasting my laptop screen to my TV but the resolution wasn’t great and it wasn’t ergonomically friendly. Also, LOL, from my work desktop I *also* have to remote in to another desktop to do some of my work, so it was like Remote Access Inception up in there. Adding a secondary monitor only made me more confused.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      There are so many worthy candidates this year. They’re all winners in their own unique way.

    2. Lucia Pacciola*

      I’m having a hard time with this one. LW1 says it’s a big change at a small company, that they’re an important part of many important things at this small company, and that the change process can’t be put on hold while they’re on their honeymoon.

      Being a small cog in a big machine is one thing. Document your processes, take your approved vacation time, turn off your phone, and let your giant employer muddle through their reorg without your inconsequential input.

      But being a big cog in a small machine is something else. Document your processes and take your approved vacation time, sure. But do you really want to be completely disconnected from your livelihood as it goes through a major change, under the circumstances?

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I think occasionally disconnecting from one’s livelihood, *in favor of one’s life*, is exceedingly important. LW1 will have many jobs in their lifetime, but they will probably only have one spouse, and prioritizing them for two weeks is a very good idea. LW1 said they have done an incredible amount of advance planning with the other people working on the project, and that needs to be good enough. Maybe their spouse would be open to a compromise where LW1 can triage their email every 4 days or something, just to have peace of mind that nothing is on fire that others can’t handle.

      2. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

        If it’s that important they can’t do the hush hush big change without LW, they could have scheduled around her absence, which has been on the books for all of 2020, right?

      3. mediamaven*

        I know it’s not popular but I felt the same way. In no way should they be harassed or spending copious time on stuff but maybe it’s a good thing to be available for an emergency. It simply doesn’t sound like a scenario that can wait.

        1. Elsajeni*

          But it also doesn’t sound like the situation the OP anticipates is “maybe they’ll call in an emergency” — it’s “maybe they’ll call because that’s faster than opening a couple of folders to find something themselves.” I can see an argument for making yourself available for legit emergencies, even on your honeymoon; I don’t think I’d do it, but I can understand it. But if you don’t trust your employer to distinguish between an actual emergency and “where’s the cost analysis you wrote up for this project? oh, wait — found it, it’s here in the Budget folder,” it’s hard to see agreeing to have your honeymoon interrupted even “for emergencies.”

          1. LW1*

            This is EXACTLY what I am worried about. My boss basically relies on others for anything administrative so her definition of emergency is basically exactly what you described. I can very much see getting a text that says “Hey, email me the payroll reports from 2019. I need them asap.” when she could just go into the payroll folder that she has access to. They are all filed by date!

        2. Coffee Bean*

          But this is a once in a lifetime personal event for the lw. Who wants to spend that time thinki g a disruptive call might come in at any moment?

        3. TRexx*

          I tend to agree, although an unpopular opinion here, I’m sure.It’s a small employer with a big hush hush project where they need LW to help with to ensure a smooth transition. It’s one thing if they were going to Hawaii, out all day in a different time zone with little secure WiFi or phone service. Totally get not being available in that case. But, knowing that they will be sitting in the comfort of their home instead, not willing to take an EMERGENCY call? That seems inflexible to me. And you can leave all the notes in the world, but that doesn’t mean an emergency won’t pop up. I mean, the fact is they AREN’T in Hawaii after all. They would be sitting at home ignoring a call from a boss in the middle of a huge project that not a lot of people can know about. Seems out of touch. It’s one of those situations… do you NEED to answer? No probably not. SHOULD you? Yes probably if you’re sitting at home and available for a few minutes to help your team.
          Maybe put limits, like say you would be available for a quick call from x person only, and only if it’s truly an emergency. Of course I’m not advocating to work during your time off. But there is a big difference between working and checking emails to being willing to talk to a desperate team member for 10 minutes! That’s just my unpopular input.

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I dunno, I think the boss is out of touch, but honestly, LW4’s letter gives us an example of a far worse manager!

  11. nnn*

    For #3, if being more direct doesn’t work for you, another option might be to suggest that, since you haven’t worked together in several years, any recommendation you might give wouldn’t carry that much weight.

    Scripting examples: “The company values more recent recommendations, so I don’t know if it would help.” “Since the last time we actually worked together was in college, I don’t know if the company would see my recommendation as relevant.” Depending on the balance between what is actually true and how closely you want to stick to the truth, you could change the “I don’t know if it it would help” to “It wouldn’t help”.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I love the idea of not having worked together recently. I think that is a strong plan to use that.

      I have also gone with, “I don’t think the hiring people are interested in my opinion because [reason].” My reasons include: it’s not my knowledge pool; it’s not my department; there are specific things they are looking for that I am not privy to; and (if true) they are considering an internal hire. Key point, I don’t lie. I find a legit thing that IS actually a hurdle.

    2. Paulina*

      “I can’t recommend people that I haven’t worked with on this type of work; I wouldn’t be able to say anything relevant, and that could be interpreted badly.”

      1. Paulina*

        Idea is go further than “it might not help” (since they might lean on the OP to try), and instead suggest that the recommendation could be counterproductive because it wouldn’t have much content.

  12. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    LW2: SAVE your money! You won’t know how long it is till you find a position and you need all the cushion in savings you can get. I graduated in February with my MBA and expected to find a job as soon as I started looking…I am still looking. Also, having previously worked in international tourism: even after a vaccine is made, it will take at least 6 months to a year for a semblance of normal to be achieved, if not longer because most countries won’t have access to a vaccine and many people who do won’t take it. This means that many countries will still be subjected to sporadic lockdowns and border closings (I am in Germany now and can testify to this). You don’t want to be stuck. Either go enjoy the National Parks (assuming you’re in the States) or wait till 2022 for international travel.

    1. Tiny Kong*

      I agree. I absolutely love to travel, I think everyone should try to experience a culture different from their own and learn another language, and under any other circumstances I’d be cheering OP on as you travel the world.

      But I heavily suspect that the pandemic will have longer-term effects, especially on international tourism. You may be suddenly stuck unable to enter your destination, or unable to leave the foreign country you’re in. You may find that border crossings are only permitted for certain nationalities (excluding yours), long-term residents (not tourists), or only citizens repatriating. Or worse, that everything is decided on a case-by-case basis. Information will be hard to find, and especially hard to find in your language if you’re abroad. The US embassy was not helping expats return home where I am, they emailed people on the STEP traveler list to say “buy a commercial ticket home or prepare to be abroad indefinitely” so don’t count on the embassy for help.

      Even if you get to your destination, every location of every region of every country has been hit differently and the situation changes over time. It’s hard to get accurate information on what measures are being taken/enforced, so it’s hard to even have the fun experience you want. And you as a traveler going to popular tourist sites could be a vector of disease! What an awful thought.

      I would recommend you hold off on extended international travel for now because it’s just too risky–and you can always go later and have the experience you wanted!

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Yes! In addition, countries that previously helped stranded tourists get home when the pandemic started initially I feel may be less likely to do so now that it’s not a new, sudden world crisis. Dozens of my former uni classmates were stranded all over the planet, some for months away from their families
        Many countries are now insisting you travel at your own risk and many embassies have shut down or reduced staff to just skeleton crews so LW might be out of luck if they go too soon. And I say this as someone who has spent the majority of the last decade out of the US in Asia, Central America, and Europe and is currently unable to visit my folks in the States because I just don’t know when I’d be able to get back into Germany to my husband.

        1. Academic Anon*

          #2, I agree with Teekanne aus Schokolade that the help that happened with the first wave of COVID may not be there from government agencies. In addition, as a student, a Study Abroad program offers some extra protections and options. I know that my university chartered some planes to get our students back when the students were called home. Not all universities went that far, but many were helping their students. Would it be possible to complete the classes and then see if the Study Abroad programs come back in the second semester? Is so, travel away. If not, graduate a semester early and look for a job where international travel might be part of the position once things open up.

          1. Paulina*

            A Study Abroad program can indeed have some extra protections, but it can also take control. When the pandemic struck, our exchange programs were all cancelled, and students had to return immediately. The university facilitated this, which was very helpful for most. However, there were some students on exchange in areas of very low covid (which have remained low), and since their visas and insurance were dependent on them being officially on the exchange program, they had to leave whether they wanted to or not.

      2. SAIS alum*

        As a contrary point, many SAIS MPA students who had planned to be studying in China this semester are now studying in Bologna instead.

        I have friends who are spending the pandemic in places like Mexico and Ecuador. Travel is possible. If you can’t defer it until 2022, I would find out whether countries you are interested in are accepting tourists. Not every place is as stringent as the European Union.

        1. Tiny Kong*

          Mexico is #10 in number of cases right now, I wouldn’t be jealous of anyone “spending the pandemic” there.

          Also encourage OP to think about if “spending the pandemic” is how they imagined time abroad and what they want to spend their money on.

    2. Shenandoah*

      I think this is good advice. It PAINS me not to tell LW2 to doitdoitdoitdoitttttttttttt – I really wish I had prioritized some extended travel abroad when I was younger. I hope that things recover faster than that 6 months to a year timeline, but realistically, I think you are correct.

      LW2, seconding visiting National Parks or some off the beaten path areas domestically! There are so many areas of the country that are worth exploration – getting the time to see them can be so challenging even if you get a generous amount of PTO off the bat in your new job.

      1. Filosofickle*

        These calculations are always so complicated, aren’t they? Looking back, decades after college, one of the greatest regrets of my life that I did not study abroad as I planned due to money. (My program had some unusual constraints, it added a lot of expenses.) If I could time machine one thing in my life, that would be one of my top 3 choices. And, yet, wishing doesn’t change the math. Could I seriously tell my 21 year old self to take on ~25K in debt it would have required? Nope. My early career was a struggle enough, coming out into a recession into a not-high-paying field. It took me a year after graduation to find a f/t job, and I only got by on temp work because I didn’t have debt. It’s truly a no-win situation.

        I like the suggestion to take the travel semester before the final semester and not after, if that’s possible, the world is safe enough, and the money is there. It is so hard to do extended travel as you get older, though not impossible of course, so any way to make it work now is ideal.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      THIS. I graduated college in 2008 (oof!) with zero savings, and it was VERY difficult for many years. I have not achieved salaries and jobs that I might have if I hadn’t had to take *whatever* job would pay my rent. Now, having accumulated a decent nest egg, I’m preparing to leave my job at the end of the year and take a huge risk on the job market because I needed to change my lifestyle and move closer to family… but I am jealously guarding my savings account like a dragon with its hoard, because I do not know how long it will take me to find a job in a state that’s been hit particularly hard by this new recession and is facing a big spike in cases that (I bet) will lead to a second lockdown.

    4. hard pass.*

      As a hiring manager I would side-eye anyone who said that they are going to travel abroad for multiple months. Yes, before 2020 that wouldn’t phase me, but now it’s irresponsible, and quite frankly naïve to do so. It would make me think that this person doesn’t have a good grasp on the reality of things.

    5. Marny*

      This was my reaction too. Until you have a job truly locked down, save that money. You don’t know how long you might be job searching.

  13. AnNina*

    #2: yolo!

    Honestly, you can get a lot of advice against and come up with all the reasonable excuses not to, but please, do what feels good for you! Sometimes it is the certainty to stay foot and search for a job, sometimes it’s taking a couple months off to do other things. Both choices can either have amazing results or fail badly. (having the trip of you life and landing a good job / having a lousy trip and not get a job / no job, no trip / no trip, amazing job etc…) Anything is possible and nothing is granted! I don’t think you can reason this out 100%. You have to listen to what feels good and what suits you. Good luck whatever you decide.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I’d agree, but what if OP gets stuck in a foreign country? As an American in Germany, I was honestly surprised that we just shut down again. Border closings are a real issue that a YOLO attitude can’t conjure away.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        The restrictions are changing extremely rapidly at the moment, I’m currently staying with family in the Netherlands and am traveling back to the UK on Tuesday morning, which is lucky because on Tuesday evening there’s another press conference likely to announce further lockdown measures.

        I’m lucky in that I have family here I’m staying with and I am wfh for the forseeable future, so if I did get stuck? Annoying, not earth shattering. If you’re travelling for fun? It’s not going to be fun.

        1. SAIS alum*

          I’m compelled to point out that LW2 didn’t ask for advice as to whether travel is possible or advisable now. She asked for advice as to the impact that taking a semester off to travel would have on her job search.

          She’s perfectly capable of weighing the benefits and risks of travel during the pandemic without getting lectured on it.

          My own advice is that international experience is almost always a plus on one’s resume, particularly if you think you would like to work abroad (and have the skill set to make that happen).

          1. Tiny Kong*

            International experience is great, and under normal circumstances OP should absolutely travel while and whenever they can.

            But maybe they don’t realize that travel and international border crossing is incredibly fraught right now, with many many people stranded apart from their families, away from their homes. We don’t know what the situation will look like next year, and it’s helpful for those with experience navigating travel during corona to point this out.

      2. AnNina*

        I hope the rest of my comment clarifies what I meant: you can’t reason it 100% because of the uncertainty of these times. In the letter, OP is prepared to adjust to the (future) current situation and base their travelling plans accordingly (“assuming it’s safe by then”).

        It is true, that they might end up in whatever situation is ahead of us. And maybe having an extreme vacation abroad (to the lonely woods in Siberia etc.) is not a great idea, but taking a moderate vacation might be just the perfect thing. BOTTOM LINE: OP should do what feels good and right for them and not expect to come up with a perfect solution, since there is none.

      3. Blackcat*

        No matter how closed boarders have gotten, people can generally return to their own country. The only exception I know if is Australia–if you’re a dual citizen there, you can’t leave unless you have some approved reason.
        While, practically, it’s *difficult* to leave, it’s not impossible if you aren’t a citizen of the country you’re in and you’re trying to go home.

        That said…. this is not the time I’d want to travel the globe because of all of the extra logistical hurdles. It’s unclear to me what the exact timeline is, but if OP would graduate in 2022, I’d recommend what some others have suggested: Take off fall 2021, then return for spring 2022 and graduate at the normal time. I did this because I couldn’t get my major department to approve a study abroad plan. Yet I didn’t need any major courses and had enough credits to take a semester complete off. So I did, and I did the “young person backpacking through South America” thing. It was cheaper than studying abroad would have been, too. I just paid a minimal fee (like $200) to my college. Besides airfare, the major cost was an international insurance plan… which I didn’t actually need despite several medical incidents (turns out, an ER visit in Peru only runs about $50).

        1. BelleMorte*

          Not always. My father in law went on a 4-ish month vacation starting last November to his home country, he’s a citizen of both the country he lives in and his home country. He planned to come back mid-march (ha ha).

          He didn’t actually make it home until July. Planes were cancelled, delayed, rebooked, cancelled again etc. Lack of decent internet where he was staying made things worse. Lockdowns prohibited travel, there was a LOT going on out of his control.

        2. Paulina*

          However, travelling Fall 2021 could be very different from travelling Winter 2022, eg. issues with vaccine availability and travel reopening.

        3. Tiny Kong*

          Generally, but not always. Lack of flights is an issue no matter where you are (flights to my home country are at <10% of what they usually are). Much of Central and South America shut borders hard and fast, even to citizens. Japan shut borders to all except Japanese nationals, including those with long-term residency (equivalent of green cards). Plus depending on where you are, if you have to route your flight home through another country, you might not be able to get home easily.

          A friend deals with international workers and the scramble in March/April was real.

    2. Sunflower*

      Agreed! It’s extremely hard to take anything longer than a 2 week vacation once you start working. If I could go back and do it, I 100% would have taken time off to travel. No one knows how long it will take to find a job- that works both ways IMO. I think you’re actually at an advantage a bit since most companies are still doing virtual interviews and for cost savings, some are more willing to be flexible on start dates. You can still interview and apply as you travel.

      Job searching is a longggg process. I spent 2 years under employed before I got an office job where I was making $13/hour. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I can’t believe I didn’t take some time during this to see the world (even if it meant taking out loans or scrimping).

      Also- Have you looked into work abroad programs? I have no idea how COVID has influenced or affected things but many countries have work-exchange programs in regular times. There’s usually lots of options for au-pairs and teaching ESL. That might be a good balance if you’re worried about money or unemployment.

  14. Drag0nfly*

    #1 makes me think of Dorothy Parker’s response to her editor, who whined at her for not sending in work during her honeymoon.

    “I was too effing busy. Or too busy effing!”

    My more polite answer would just be to cheerfully claim, “Sorry, no cellphone reception where I’m going,” as if you’re going to a cabin on the lake — does your boss *have* to know you’re staying home? And if you feel bad about lying, just use your phone’s Do Not Disturb function, and make sure your boss isn’t on the list of people who can get through.

    1. Larry Gossamer*

      Randy Pausch of “The Last Lecture” had this great trick (from https://app.ft.com/content/a899a0fe-39cb-11e5-8613-07d16aad2152 ):

      “When he took a month off work for his honeymoon, his boss at Carnegie Mellon University insisted that he be reachable. So he recorded a message for when people tried to call. On it he explained that he’d waited until 39 to get married. Then he gave the names of his new in-laws and the town they lived in, so a caller could get their number from directory assistance. Then, lastly: “If you can convince my in-laws that your emergency merits interrupting their only daughter’s honeymoon, they have our number.””

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I like the concept, but I worked too hard to get into the good graces of my in-laws to try a stunt like that. It did bring a smile to my day.

        1. Paperwhite*

          Yeah, the in-laws would definitely need to be forewarned, but my partner’s mother would have had a hoot if we’d done this.

          1. AKchic*

            I have blocked my in-laws for a reason. If they *had* my contact information, they’d still be giving it out to all and sundry, AND calling me for any and every little thing. My MIL would call every single time my husband doesn’t answer his phone (newsflash: he’s either at work or on the toilet – leave a message and he’ll call you back later).

  15. Fried Eggs*

    #5 Fellow Mac user here. If the reason you can’t work on a PC laptop is the trackpad (I hear you!), see if you can pick your monitor, mouse, and keyboard up from the office.

    If they’re due to be replaced too, maybe your company would even spring for a mouse/keyboard/monitor combo at home you’d return to the office when the pandemic is over.

    Working on a laptop is terrible screen-height ergonomics anyway. So if you feel like you need an excuse other than “this trackpad makes me want to throw my computer out a window” maybe go with that.

    1. Emma*

      That’s an interesting comment! I have a couple of Windows laptops and have also used my Dad’s macbook, and the only difference I noticed between the trackpads is that on both of my laptops you can either tap or click the trackpad to click, whereas on the macbook you have to click.

      What other differences have you noticed?

      1. Sparrow*

        Tap to Click is a setting that you can turn on and off, both on Macs and on PCs. It has nothing to do with the hardware.

        I find PC laptop trackpads much more finicky to use than my Mac trackpad. Part of that is the amount of friction; PC trackpads tend to have a little bit of texture on the surface, whereas Mac ones are smooth enough that my fingers can just glide across them. But I also feel like PC trackpads are just less responsive and tend not to do exactly what I want.

        1. Emma*

          Ahh, that makes sense. I was thinking it would be a “this works differently” thing (as it so often is with Apple/non-Apple), rather than a “it’s just qualitatively different to use” thing.

          For what it’s worth there are some manufacturers who make really nice trackpads – I love the one on my Lenovo 3-in-1. But I’m also very familiar with the frustration of having to use whatever mediocre equipment has been picked out by work!

        2. mgguy*

          Apple, IMO, has always been top of the pack in trackpads.

          On a software level, one of the big differences is the acceleration. I don’t have a lot of time with Windows 10 to see if it’s improved, but in the old days of Windows moving x distance on the trackpad always produced y amount of movement on the screen. Mac mouse acceleration is set such that the slower your finger/hand is moving, the less the cursor moves for a given distance. It takes a bit of getting use to, but it means that you can efficiently zip the cursor around the screen quickly if need be, and also make very precise movements when the situation warrants, and anything in-between.

          Also, Apple has about two different trackpad customizations to support different multitouch gestures. I use gestures almost sub-consciously, and have my standard settings I use on all my Macs, and it can REALLY throw me off if, for example, I do a three finger up swipe side-by-side and I don’t get another virtual desktop(something I haven’t been able to work without since finding out about them).

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, I don’t really notice any differences between how the laptop trackpads feel between PC and Mac…but regular mouse movements feel less precise to me on PCs for some reason. (Always have, no idea why!)

        1. mgguy*

          They ARE less precise because the baked-in mouse settings since System .95(the first Mac OS in 1984) are such that if you move the mouse very slowly, even a big movement moves the cursor a tiny amount for a given distance moved, while a fast movement zips the cursor across the screen. It’s not a direct move the mouse x distance and the cursor moves y distance on the screen regardless of the speed. The Mac way lets you navigate around the screen quickly when needed, but also adjust your hand/finger speed for very precise movements when needed. Once you’re use to it, it’s hard to go back.

      3. Fried Eggs*

        Enabling tap-to-click was the first thing I did when I got a Mac work laptop at my new job! I don’t understand why it’s not default.

        There are tons of Mac-specific trackpad shortcuts. I only use one, but it’s really important to me: the three-finger sideways swipe to move between full-screen windows. Usually one window is a text I’m writing, and the other is something I’m referencing for it. It’s an amazing convenience when working without multiple monitors.

        I also hate not being able to scroll with two fingers on the trackpad, though maybe some PC trackpads allow this.

        In my experience, trackpads on PCs have always been way less sensitive than on my Mac. On my last PC work computer, I hated the trackpad so much, I used the little mouse button in the middle of the keyboard instead. That was pre-pandemic, so I just needed it in meetings. Had a dock with a corded mouse on my desk for most of my work.

    2. WellRed*

      As a Mac user currently being switch to PC I can agree the track pad sucks but it’s far from my only issue.

  16. CouldntPickAUsername*

    #2 I feel you, I just finished my masters myself this summer. I decided that given that I’m living with my parents and working part time I’m honestly just going to wait a couple more months before job hunting. I don’t really want to work remotely, I don’t have a good setup for it and so much is up in the air right now. I could find a new job only to be laid off or locked down the next week.

  17. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – There is many a slip twixt cup and plate – ie. you don’t have to explain that you’re not recommending your former friend. A LOT can happen in the hiring process to knock a candidate out of the running. Just tell your former friend that you’ll mention them to the person handling recruitment, but that you can’t promise anything as you’re not the decision maker. Just make it clear to the person handling recruitment that you are passing the resume along, not recommending the candidate. (That in itself should be crystal clear, without you having to get into specifics. If you trust the person you’re handing the resume to, let them know that you do have concerns.)

    There have been times when I have mentioned a candidate to a hiring manager, and given my opinion of their strengths and weaknesses, knowing that what I have said is both accurate and fair, and that the hiring manager will decline the candidate based on what I have told them. My first loyalty is to the company and the team, when it comes to referrals. At the same time, I know that the candidate will get in front of recruitment or the hiring manager in some way, so at least I have had my opportunity to weigh in on their suitability. And if the hiring manager goes forward, at least they are forewarned.

    1. Traveller*

      If OP doesn’t think they should have the job, it seems like it could be bad to pass them on… without the bluntest of conversations, giving a resume could easily be seen as an endorsement. Alison’s response seems perfectly fine, and avoids the complications of passing a resume on.

      1. NYWeasel*

        But what LearnedTheHardWay is saying is that they pass on the resume along with the blunt conversation.

        I’ve spent much of my career working at attractive employers, so I’ve had more than my fair share of people asking me to help them out. I’ve stopped having any sort of negative conversations with the job seekers, as it takes up too much mental energy having to smooth their ruffled feathers. Instead I use some variation of Alison’s advice, occasionally offering additional context such as “I’m not in that team but I will see what I can find out.” And then my actual actions depend on my enthusiasm for the candidate. If I like someone, I will put actual energy into recommending them. If they are a friend but I don’t know their work, I’ll make that recommendation. If they are horrid to work with, I will actively warn the hiring manager about my concerns, like Learned suggests. And if, like the majority of people who ask me for help, they are just spamming anyone they can think of to get a leg up and I can’t tell anything about them, I don’t lift a finger. Pretty much no one ever follows up on their own, but there are plenty of ways to explain whatever you did/didn’t do that are truthful without revealing your intent. Like “I‘ve been trying to catch the hiring manager to chat but our schedules haven’t matched up”. Occasionally the people I’m non-committal about get called, and then I get thanked for helping them out, lollll.

        Obviously, being able to be honest with jobseekers would be ideal, and I really do genuinely try to help people when they approach me for a mentoring session. But if I’ve cut someone mostly out of my life because of the negativity they generate, I’m not going to waste any more time/energy than the absolute minimum in moving past the request as quickly as possible.

  18. Traveller*

    #2: I agree with Alison in terms of timing things so you can get a job, if that’s your priority.

    But I will say overall, even in VERY conservative industries, I have yet to meet anyone that doesn’t think it’s awesome I took off years to travel when I’m interviewing. As more people travel and take time off work (and frankly, more of these people’s kids travel!) I think this has become much more normal. I can’t speak for every industry, but the notion that taking time off or time between jobs is a deathwish is, in my experience, becoming outdated.

    But also having travelled by myself, I honestly don’t think things will be back to normal enough for it to be a good experience next year… guess we’ll see, though.

    1. MK*

      I have never met anyone who doesn’t think traveling is awesome either, but I gave seen many of these people pass over the awesome traveler for another candidate who spent the last year working and has more experience and is up-to-date with recent changes in the field.

      1. Sunflower*

        I think this is true and also where it comes down to personal preference. For me personally, I’d weigh that time of travel over a job that may or may not work out or I may or may not love. We all need to start somewhere so yes, you may be behind your peers when you do look for a job or needing to take something crappier than you wanted. Does that negate the time you took to travel? That’s the question OP (or anyone else considering this) should be asking themselves.

        1. MK*

          Eh, another question to ask yourself is what you are expecting to get from an extended vacation that might or might not be a great experience. And I think people tend to romanticize the “young penniless person goes on a long voyage”. I have traveled in my 20s and my 30s and now my 40s, I have done 3-day weekends and week-long vacations and more extended trips. My conclusion has been that traveling is a lot more fun when you have some spare cash to do the things you want, and also when you know yourself and what you will like a little bit better; and that traveling for weeks on end is tiring and repetitive and doesn’t let you enjoy the experience. Also, I am pretty sure traveling in the aftermath of a global pandemic won’t be as positive an experience.

          What I mostly object to the OP’s thinking is the unspoken assumption that life stops after you get a job, or that your early 20s are the best years of your life.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      I agree with you generally. That said, there are some companies/industries that have programs and structure specifically designed to help with the transition from university to career.

      Given the current climate, it might be worth OP exploring those options before making a decision around travel. Especially given your last point regarding the quality of the travel at this time!

    3. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Being able to take years off to travel is an extremely privileged position to be in as a young person. I would hope employers would recognize this and not give preference to the well-traveled individual.

      1. Traveller*

        I disagree with this perspective, not only because it’s not the job as an employer to punish people for possibly incorrect assumptions about privilege (this is veering very closely to the notion that a man needs a job to support a family but a woman does not), but also lots of people travel on working holiday visas and do not come from wealthy backgrounds. Sure, they clearly don’t have some sorts of obligations at home (like taking care of sick family), but it doesn’t mean they’re rich either.

  19. tamer of dragonflies*

    Op 1, if your boss cant go 2 weeks without calling you about work,they need to be paying you ALOT more.Your time off has been planned since January. Theres been enough time for them to prepare…Spend your honeymoon with your spouse ,not your job.Its your time off to be free from work.Dont let them invade your time with your new spouse.

    1. Batty Twerp*

      This almost sounds like one of those bosses who are taking advantage of the current global situation to say “well, you aren’t going anywhere, so you’re available, right?”.
      This is your honeymoon (congrats on the upcoming nuptials btw). It’s even more important than a regular holiday/vacation to not be contactable by your work, no matter how desperate THEY may think it is. (Heres a handy hint – unless you are a sole trader, the company you work for will survive two weeks without you. If it couldn’t it would fold the minute you, or any other employee took a real holiday somewhere with no signal, fell seriously poorly, or even quit! And you’ve given them 10 months notice. If you were quitting, they’d get 2 weeks!)
      I’m hoping your soon to be spouse will be there to support you after you tell them no, you are taking a proper break and will be uncontactable. And with all the love of a newlywed, hides your phone while you do more fun things!
      Ok, that was a bit flippant. But something *does* change when you get married, and you need (and want) that period of adjustment. Hubby Twerp and I have been together for sixteen years, married for 8, and we both noticed the small, subtle change the day after the wedding and it’s not like all those years before. It’s a nice change, but, like all big life events, you cant just go back to normal the next day.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes don’t set the tone for marriage by working on your honeymoon. I can almost guarantee if you give work an inch, you’ll be working the whole time.

        1. cncx*

          yes, while my former marriage had other problems we both made the mistake of letting work encroach on private time. i think we were both scared of being unemployed but really in retrospect it was just managers with boundary issues.

          you said it exactly right- it sets the tone for the marriage. please OP don’t do this, no job is worth it even during a pandemic. they had months for this and you only have one honeymoon. if boss is mad then they’re mad

    2. Just J.*

      Agree solidly on this.

      Here’s my advice from someone who is 30 years in on a very high-stress, deadline driven industry, and has on EVERY vacation been in your situation.

      1) When you get an out of office reply that says some one is on their honeymoon, do you expect them to get back you? No. So neither are your clients. Relieve yourself of the stress that people are waiting to hear back from you. They aren’t.

      2) When you write your out-of-office, do include a phone / email of the person who can or is covering for you.

      3) Your boss is being a jerk. Stand your ground. If the sh*t really does hit the fan when you are away, they are going figure out how to get a hold of you.

      4) If you do opt to check emails while you are away, be judicious about the ones you reply to. Once your company thinks you are back online, they will continue to pester you and ruin your honeymoon.

      GOOD LUCK! And Congrats! And sign off for the entire time!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I have generally worked with and for reasonable people, so I have only gotten an emergency call on vacation one time. Well, that happened to be the afternoon I was in a spa, so my phone was in a locker for several hours and by the time I got back to it, the work day was over. Guess what? They figured it out in my absence! Could I have helped? Maybe. Did they need me? Not really.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        When you get an out of office reply that says some one is on their honeymoon,

        … Is this a standard thing to put in an out-of-office? Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but casting my mind back over the numerous people I’ve worked/emailed with who did take a honeymoon, I don’t think it was ever described any differently than “I’m out of the office on vacation and will be back on Octember 32nd, please contact Joe Backup in my absence” ?

    3. irene adler*

      AND, they need to think about the day when OP quits. That will happen – sooner or later.

      Or, heaven forbid, OP gets injured or worse and cannot work. I know, a bit dramatic. Hey, this has happened twice here at my small company. Out of nowhere an employee died. A lot of scrambling went on. Figure out the status of their work. Figure out a way to complete their tasks going forward. Not pleasant.

      When terms like “if something comes up” or “just in case” are being said, that’s a sign that management needs to do cross training or something more (get written instructions or contract for a special skill) for when OP is no longer available to them. They are doing the company a big disservice not to have contingency plans in place.

      And, yeah, the OP’s salary should reflect this.

      1. Mockingjay*

        “…that’s a sign that management needs to do cross training”

        This is absolutely the root of the problem. The solution can be as simple as identifying a couple of key tasks per employee, designating an alternate to handle those one or two things, and directing people to the alternate in the Out Of Office email reply. (No need to clone the OP, lol.)

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        they need to think about the day when OP quits. That will happen – sooner or later.
        Or, heaven forbid, OP gets injured or worse and cannot work.

        (I see this argument made a lot, and my reply is to the general argument rather than this specific commenter.)

        People don’t seem to acknowledge that there’s a qualitative difference between ‘Jane being away for two weeks’ and ‘Jane will unexpectedly never be back at this company’, and I think the contingency/backup plans for each are different accordingly.

        In the Jane being away for two weeks case — yes, ideally you would have people in place who can pick up Jane’s core responsibilities (those that are needed as a baseline to “keep the lights on” so to speak, and cover for any important projects where something unexpectedly comes up). A lot of the time we should have more cross-training than we do (I’m just saying ‘we’ in a general sense, as in ‘people in companies’ or similar) and the reasons for not having cross-training coverage tend to be self-reinforcing: Jane is the only one who can groom these particular breeds of green llama, so as a result we are always so backed up with green llama projects that there isn’t the opportunity to train a backup, etc.

        The unfortunate case of Jane being injured or worse is a whole different thing. Callous as it may sound — if you know Jane won’t be back, then you start to move on with “a new plan” right away: hiring an outside consultancy, recruiting for a replacement, liaising with customers that there will be a delay to their work, etc. And it will be generally accepted by most customers that sudden demise of a key person is the reason their deadline will get pushed out.

        In the middle of those you have someone who will unexpectedly be out for an indefinite amount of time but will be back, and that’s where the cross-training comes into its own.

        The two situations (expected to come back in 2 weeks vs won’t be back) are fundamentally different things and need to be handled differently which is why I get this uncomfortable feeling when people say “but what would happen if Jane was in an accident?” or similar things. Because the way of responding to those two situations needs to be fundamentally different.

    4. LW1*

      I definitely need to be paid a lot more for more reasons than this! But thank you. I’ve been searching for a new job since February. Hopefully my luck will change soon.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LW already confirmed that they are indeed being paid not enough.

      But it’s pretty ridiculous to assume they’re being paid poorly without having any knowledge of their wages. Lots of people do pay you handsomely for being this kind of position. There’s a reason I don’t take 2 weeks off in one swoop, jeez.

  20. Thistle Whistle*

    Do you think a couple of months will end remote working? Several of the biggest companies here in the UK have put their staff on remote working until at least spring 2021 with the probability that it will be longer. A lot of office based companies are just not looking at full non-remote working until people are protected by immunity (and its looking that post-covid immunity is very ephemeral) or vaccination.

    We are in a second wave, but there will most probably be a third and a fourth etc until a big enough majority of people can be persuaded to take some sort of working vaccine. But that realistically could take 12 months to roll out widely.

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

      Sadly true. At June we got an estimate for December, and last month they hinted they are considering alternatives by department.

      1. Thistle Whistle*

        We’ve been told definitely not this year, but in Scotland we are meant to work from home if at all possible, and it doesn’t look like that order will change until the winter surge is over.
        My guess is we’re off public transport etc until it starts getting warmer and drier which is second part of April up here. Would be really surprised if the Scottish advice is to go back before then.

  21. ACM*

    LW3, can you do more than just travel abroad and find work? A lot of other countries in the world have suffered much less at the hands of Covid and so you might be able to kill two birds with one stone. English teaching is the first thing that comes to mind (being a wanna-live-abroad-for-a-year EFL teacher turned career EFL teacher…), but there are probably other options out there too you could check out. (Just do yourself a favor and invest in a CELTA rather than an online cert not worth the paper you may not even print it on.) There are other countries with working holiday visas as well: https://www.goabroad.com/articles/jobs-abroad/working-holiday-visa which sounds like the time frame you’re looking for.

    Then you have something to put on your CV when you get back (if you come back…), AND you’re doing a better job of replicating the study abroad experience. Travel just isn’t the same as living and working/studying in situ, and while you can keep traveling all your life, the latter is something easiest done when you’re just out of college.

  22. Jennifer*

    #1 Did you happen to tell them you were doing a staycation? That’s probably why they assume you won’t mind staying in contact. We can’t go back in time but just for future time off I’d keep that detail to myself.

    And whether it’s a staycation or not people still need the chance to recharge.

    1. Not Australian*

      Strikes me as a good opportunity to have ‘a problem with the phone’ (or computer, or whatever). “Oh dear, whoops, it happened not to work for those two weeks – but don’t worry, it’s fixed now.”

  23. Hotdog not dog*

    OP 1, this hit me hard. Do not under any circumstances allow your job to encroach upon your honeymoon! In the first place, you and your spouse are celebrating your pledge to put each other first in life. Allowing work intrusions is not a good start to a healthy marriage. Secondly, while work often asks for extreme loyalty, they rarely return the favor. In a previous job I spent a good chunk of time on work issues while I was “on vacation” assisting my father with issues relating to his cancer treatment. I deeply regret not focusing fully on him (fortunately he’s doing well now, but it was touch and go for a while) when I had the chance. It definitely affected our relationship. Not long after I returned to the office I was laid off. Not because I took PTO, but just because the home office made a business decision. They couldn’t keep everyone, and someone else had more seniority. The lesson I took from that experience was not to sacrifice anything truly important for the sake of work.

    1. WellRed*

      That’s a hard lesson to learn but I know going forward you’ll take this philosophy to heart. Glad your Dad is doing better.

    2. LW1*

      Thank you for this perspective! I’m glad to hear that you father is doing well now.

      I have noticed I’ve been getting caught up in the short term aspect “what if this negatively affects my employment/relationship with my boss?” especially because the job market is so challenging right now. So thinking about the long term affects on my relationship is good to keep in mind.

      I wish the best for you and your dad.

      1. mgguy*

        Someone who’s right at month past my wedding…

        I started a new job-as a professor-in August, and when we’d set our date for the wedding about a year ago the job I took wasn’t even AVAILABLE(the person in it hadn’t put in their notice) nor had SARS-CoV-2 even made the bat-to-human jump in Wuhan.

        We’d originally scheduled somewhat around fall break at my old academic-but-not-faculty job. The new school doesn’t have fall break. As a faculty member starting after July 1 this year, I got exactly 1 day of annual leave(I’d negotiated four-the maximum they allow you to accrue-as part of my offer while being totally upfront about the wedding, especially since the salary wasn’t quite there, but during onboarding when I brought it up again was told by HR “sorry, our leave policy is clearly stated and you can not possibly receive more than one day of annual leave now”, but that’s another story). I opted to take an unpaid day so that I’d have at least two days totally unplugged.

        My new wife and I took a week-long trip to a location a 4 hour drive away(not the cruise we’d planned for a lot of obvious reasons-hopefully next year), and even though I officially only had two days off, we’re fully remote this semester. I’d scheduled an exam for the end of the week, and since it was online I thought I’d be good to just hop on Zoom for a few minutes, get the ball rolling, and then be “free” since I’d left the exam open for 48 hours and had said I wouldn’t answer content questions while it was open. I’d also made it perfectly clear that I’d be 100% totally unreachable from the day before the wedding until the Wednesday after.

        In any case, all went well and was perfectly blissful for my two days off. I shut off my work email on my phone and didn’t even look at it until I was back “on the clock.” We had a couple of wonderful days both of just relaxing and actually getting full nights of sleep after a few weeks of nuttiness, plus just having fun doing “us” in a way we hadn’t time to in a while, and in between plenty of…well the main thing you assume people do on their honeymoon. It was wonderful, even if it was a just a few days.

        My actually boss(the dean) had basically said “We know you’ve been giving this job all you’ve had since you’ve started. Keep your class going, but your students will cope as long as there’s stuff for them to do and once your days off don’t keep going like you’ve been-just make sure your students can get you if there’s a real need.” She went on to say “I’m going to be really upset with you if even log into your email on your days off, and I’ll find out how to get in touch with your wife and tell her to take your phone away from you if you do. Even once you’re past your days off, I’m also going to be upset if you do more than divert your attention from her for an hour or two every day.” Did I mention she’s an amazing boss? Of course, that was a bit of hyperbole(the part about getting in touch with my wife) but still, it was good to hear.

        Unfortunately, in that situation, you have 60 people who feel like they’re your boss since they’re “paying your salary”, and once the exam open the software went down and the you-know-what hit the fan. One of my students somehow managed to get my cell phone number(how, I don’t know-I’m super protective of it) and called me incessantly while I spent 2 hours straightening things out. Once it was fixed, I first blocked that students number, but was paranoid and putting out smaller fires, and it definitely spoiled my mood for the rest of the trip.

        Fortunately my wife was great since she knew going in that something like that could happen, but in retrospect I’d have taken the whole freaking week unpaid if it had meant an entire week of just the two of us being together. Again, even though we have a bigger trip planned hopefully for sometime in 2021, I don’t think it will ever be the same as those special few days right after the wedding.

  24. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*


    The only “solution” is for everybody to bail. If Bad Manager insists on being a bad manager and Owner refuses to control the situation, then the company deserves to lose good people and ultimately fail.

    1. Rebecca*

      I noticed the OP said the bad manager was told why people were quitting, but the semi retired owner may know only what the bad manager is telling them. I think it’s time for the owner to be looped in, so they can either deal with the situation or not. I’d think someone who is semi retired would be interested to find out their revenue stream could be greatly reduced or dry up altogether due to someone driving away the employees.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yup. Semi-retired owner is the key here. They need to un-semi-retire if they want to protect their investment, but they may not realize this. If they are told, and still care more about their leisure time, then it is time to move on. This outfit doesn’t have long for this world.

  25. jcarnall*

    LW4: Can you ask the staffer who’s about to quit to contact the boss (even in semi-retirement) and ask for an exit interview? If boss’s response is “talk to Bad Manager”, staffer should say “There’s no point: we already know she doesn’t listen to any issues we have, that’s why I wanted to talk to you.” (I’m sure there are better scripts.)

    If staffer does get to have exit interview with boss, and lay out all of the issues – including the demotion of the other manager and the the reason the three other staffers left – boss may or may not do anything, but then if you and other staffers go to boss as a group and say “We have a problem with Bad Manager” it’s not going to come right out of the blue.

    1. Manager issue*

      Hi, OP for #4 here. The issue with the overworked staffer is a bit more complex, as their partner also works for the company, so they are hesitant to really voice their opinion. Our owner is sort of aware of one issue, the disrespect by customers, but he believes that staff can handle it, he sure did when he worked here, missing the difference that as an owner, and a man in a more conservative town, that his experience is vastly different from ours. To his credit though, he and our manager have been around more frequently since being told there was an issue, but that only covers one facet of the issue. We also have talked about an en masse airing of grievances, the issue is one or two co-workers who willfully ignore the problems their co-workers are going through. We’re also nervous because our former manager was the one who handled all of these issues for us, and since his demotion has been staying clear of her, while being fully aware of her choices.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This business is a mess. The owner needs to handle it. If he’s too retired or too oblivious to do that, start job searching and let the place go under.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Given the extent of the problem, I think this is falling into not-my-monkeys-not-my-circus territory. The bad actor is going to run the business into the ground, whether by being rude to customers or by chasing away all of the staff – if someone’s got a good enough relationship with the owner, they can certainly let them know what’s going on, but it’s tough for the staff to do much. There is no real avenue for an airing of grievances without HR or someone invested in resolution. If it is at all an option, I’d start job searching. The owner should be able to read mass turnover in a down economy for what it is.

      3. JessicaTate*

        Is there someone on staff who has a good rapport with the owner – maybe someone who’s been around a long time – who is aware of and concerned about the issues with Bad Manager? Rather than going to owner en masse, if there’s one person he really trusts who can give him the straight situation from a perspective of “I’m worried you’re going to have even more of a mass exodus of staff on your hands,” maybe he’ll listen.

        I was in a small company that was kind of in this situation. We all knew the new Director was driving us into the ground, people were starting to quit left and right, and the woman who’d normally stepped in as an intermediary with the Board (equivalent of semi-retired owners, in our case) gave notice and decided she was done. Everyone else was freaking out and job hunting. Everyone eventually quit and the organization literally went under. The Board was blindsided. I think if we griped en masse, they would have just thought we were complaining. But in retrospect, if one of the more senior people had a quiet sit-down with a trusted Board member after the first dominoes fell… maybe it could have been triaged and some degree of job loss and chaos saved.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Wow, I really hope you are looking around at other jobs. My question for you is, how does the bad manager’s behavior affect you personally in terms of your job? It sounds like she has really pushed off a lot of work on other staff. Has she done this to you, or is she likely to now that her most recent punching bag is leaving?

        I think someone needs to have a discreet conversation with the owner about the other issues. But as Alison always says, stick to the ways it is affecting the work. That her working from home is causing issues because she is not on hand to see the effects of those decisions, that she is pawning off her work on others because she is home (which results in others facing overwork), that she allows herself to work from home but makes staff come in without taking into consideration that they may have concerns or health issues that make them higher risk, and that she is not available when customer issues escalate and those customers want and/or need to speak to someone at the management level. And then discreetly point out the large number of departures from long term staffers that have occurred since she took over (maybe do not say that she is why they left, but point out that the issues you have observed from her way of working lately may well have contributed to the loss of these employees). But again, ideally that conversation will be initiated by someone who has the right relationship with the boss, and it sounds like that may not be you. But if no one else is available, it might have to be you. Either way, make sure you plan your exit strategy as soon as possible!

  26. Doc in a Box*

    LW2’s study abroad plans: I really wanted to be able to study abroad as well, but I couldn’t because of the way my university structured its courses for science majors — if I’d gone abroad for a semester I have to take an extra year to graduate since some courses were only offered in either fall or spring, and getting off sequence meant you had to wait. I also thought about deferring med school matriculation and taking a gap year to live and work abroad (this option was much less popular in the early 2000s than it is now), but I couldn’t afford it.

    But at the end of my residency training, I had the opportunity to spend a month in France to learn some cutting-edge skills I wouldn’t have been exposed to in the States. It was an incredible experience. And I was getting paid to do it! (My regular salary in USD + small fellowship stipend which covered the travel costs.)

    So bottom line, if you want to go abroad, there are ways to make it happen. It may not be the semester-long Auberge Espanole experience, but it’s still worthwhile.

    1. Joielle*

      Yeah, I think this is good advice. I, too, couldn’t make study abroad work with my undergrad course schedule, but I did a month in the middle east during law school as part of a law and religion course. It was amazing! If you go to grad school you probably have another chance at study abroad – at least a shorter program, if not a whole semester.

      I think spending months abroad while not working might be hard to do after you graduate, but you can certainly travel for a few weeks at a time if you find the right employer, or maybe longer if you work remotely. Or if living abroad for an extended time is important to you, you can look into jobs overseas or jobs that have a lot of international travel built in – but if I were a new grad, I’d hesitate to spend my savings on leisure travel right now (and probably for a few more years).

    2. Filosofickle*

      Ha, I didn’t explain my “constraints” in another comment but this is exactly why I couldn’t do it either. It would have added a 5th year due to the alternating semester courses. And I’d have been in Paris for half the time, which had very high housing costs. Le sigh.

      I’m so happy for you that you found a way to get there! Sounds amazing.

    3. Jennifer Juniper*

      LW2: Wait until the pandemic ends before getting on a plane. Otherwise, you could catch COVID-19 and end up in a drawer at the morgue, on a ventilator in the ICU, or permanently disabled with brain, heart, and/or lung damage.

      Is traveling really worth the risk?

  27. TheLola*

    I’m a mac person too, for over 30 years! You can get the mac version of office for about $6/month. It’s a little different from the windows version, but not very. The files you create are all cross platform and will open fine on a PC too, with the exception of a font occasionally shifting a bit (a word moving from the end if one line to the start of another in word). I’ve only ever even noticed the change in very complicated documents with lots of tight margins for section and page breaks. Your work should cover the cost, it’s barely more than the price of a ream of paper each month. They can even set it up on a business credit card and let you just use the software. There are also some open source, free alternatives like libre office.

    Work from home is bringing up a lot of new questions for businesses on how they work and support their employees. Hopefully a discussion with your boss will turn the reimbursement into business as usual. Congrats on finding a way to work from home long term!

  28. EmbracesTrees*

    LW #2 might consider just postponing their actual graduation date. In other words, they may complete all their grad requirements by end Spring ’21, but if they want to travel July-Sept/Oct, they could just wait to *apply* for graduation until Fall ’21. Then they could start looking in Oct and have the “fresh” grad date of Dec ’21.

    If they are fortunate and get a job quickly (say, Oct/Nov), they could just say that their last semester is “very light” (true!) and they can start at any time. If they’re worried that this is dishonest (it isn’t; I would absolutely advise one of my students with this concern to consider this), they could always register for yoga or some other less-rigorous course.

    1. EmbracesTrees*

      I should add, that if they do this, they can still do a study abroad through their school, if they wish!

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Or a night course that won’t interfere with a “normal” job. Something very helpful to their career goal but not necessarily a requirement. I took a business writing course and an accounting systems course and the second one is what got me my first post-graduation job. The company was starting to implement one of the systems the course covered and no one in the department knew anything about it. I was hired and tasked to be their “superuser”. I attended all trainings and then passed the knowledge back to my group. It was actually perfect for a new grad since I was still in “learn mode” and didn’t have a ton of work the trainings were taking me away from.

  29. Skippy*

    LW2: I wasn’t able to study abroad while I was in college, and it’s one of my biggest regrets about my 20s. It’s so much easier to do a long trip when you’re young and not working full-time yet — after all, look at LW1, who can’t even step away for two weeks for their honeymoon — than it is when you’re older and have all sorts of financial and family obligations.

    Obviously there’s all sorts of caveats about whether you can afford it and how much travel will actually be feasible when you graduate, but if I were you, I’d go. The job market, for better or for worse, will be there when you get back. You’ll be fine.

    1. Malika*

      I would underline this. When you are knee-deep into a profession, it can be difficult to take significant leave. If you are a lucky professional, you will be in the driving seat as to when you go to a new job. Quite often, they don’t want to wait for months on end until you can start your new job, unless your workplace insists on lengthy notice periods. If you are not in the driving seat and you get fired, there is even less space to travel. Unless you have a VERY nice cushion of savings you will have to watch the pennies and spend your precious time applying for jobs.

      Having said that, I was able to take a months paid leave off, a couple of jobs back. I had built up tenure and leverage, and it was well within my rights. I had a blast backpacking through Europe like a twenty year old. I know people save up for sabbaticals and spend their time travelling. People also don’t mind travel-related gaps on CV’s as much as they used to. It can even be a conversation point! There are possibilities, but I would definitely grab your chance of what is possible now, as opposed to waiting for later.

  30. Rambler*

    OP 5, if you registered your copy of Office/Word when you got your computer (it basically forces you to these days), you can redownload it from Microsoft’s website. I just had this happen to me last week on my PC. You have to wander around your account pages for a bit to find the right spot to download it, but it’s there. If I could remember how I got to it, I’d tell you, but I was so mad at that point it was lucky I didn’t just throw the whole thing out the window.

  31. Dagny*


    I’m really cynical, so here’s my take: this person is looking to break into a new field many years after college because s/he burned so many bridges in the previous field (likely a result of either a bad work ethic or a bad character, maybe both). You can lose a lot of credibility with your company by recommending someone like that.

    It’s entirely possible that this person has grown up and is a hard working individual who has figured out that your career field is a much better fit for his/her skills, but that’s something for that person to demonstrate, not for you to suppose.

  32. CupcakeCounter*

    I would also mention to your boss that you have heard from a former friend that is applying and will likely drop your name into her materials somehow since she asked for a reference/referral. Then simply say that you cannot vouch for her professional work but the small bit you did see in college, combined with the materials she sent you recently, wasn’t up to your company standards and you cannot in good conscience recommend her for the position.
    You aren’t saying anything bad, just putting it out there in case your boss/the hiring manager doesn’t do their due diligence and sees “referred by Jane” and assumes you really did refer her. It happened to me but I got lucky and happened to see my former coworker come in for the interview and was able to talk to by grand-boss before any decisions were made. His reply was “oh…she said you told her about the job and you worked well together so I assumed she was telling the truth”.

  33. AnonTraveler*

    OP2–I’d say do what you can to prioritize the travel. My study abroad plans in college fell through, and I told myself I’d travel after graduation. Then, I ended up landing an internship that started right after college (yay!) and I told myself I’d travel after the internship. The internship turned into a full time job, so my travel plans fell through again. A few years later, I saved up money so I could quit an exhausting job and take a few months to travel—but then got an offer for a much better job I really wanted, and wasn’t able to take 2 months off in between.

    Now, eight years out of college, I’m more rooted in place. I have a pet, and lots of furniture, and it’s a lot harder to plan to take a few months off. I don’t regret taking that first internship out of college, and I’m grateful for steady employment! And I’ve taken some great shorter trips. But I think if I’d realized that it wouldn’t get any easier to make my extended travel dreams come true, I would have prioritized it more earlier on.

    You know your financial situation and the industry you’re hoping to enter best. But if it’s feasible for you (ie your industry doesn’t hire new grads on a strict annual cycle)—go for it. Make your adventure happen in some way.

  34. Madeleine Matilda*

    #1 – I’m suggesting you consider postponing your honeymoon until after this hush-hush role out, but only if the reason below holds true for you, otherwise take it as planned and don’t answer any work communications.

    You mention in your letter that work has been impacting your mental well-being and you want to unplug and recharge. If you take your honeymoon as planned, do you think you will spend it worrying about and being distracted by the hush-hush project and about whether your boss will call you about the project? If you think work, and particularly this project, will distract you even if your boss never calls you, you might consider postponing until after the role out so you can truly unplug and recharge.

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and best wishes for a happy future with your spouse.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      This occurred to me as well (maybe for slightly different reasons), but I didn’t want to be the first to suggest it!

      In OP1’s position I personally would probably consider postponing it, (given the specific situation that has been described here – covid induced staycation, super-secret project, wearing all the hats, etc). Take a couple of days and the rest at a later date.

      I wasn’t clear from the OP though, how long the situation is likely to go on — e.g. if they took time off in January instead, would it still be critical for them to be available or would the project situation have ‘resolved’ by then?

      I don’t want to speak for OP, but with my own experience of anxiety (that isn’t particularly work related but was exacerbated at one time) I know the “what’s going wrong in my absence?” sense would likely get activated by this.

      I haven’t done the ‘honeymoon’ thing (I got married on the Saturday and had booked a week off afterwards due to a visit from in-laws from out-of-town, but ended up doing a mixture of day trips and going into work…), but have many-a-time spent a whole week off that was meant to be restorative waiting on edge for the call that never came.

      OP, what does your fiance(e) think about this? Have you discussed the Big Project situation with them? (It might not mean anything, but I noticed a lot of ‘I’ language (rather than ‘we’) in your question.)

  35. Anon Wedding Commiserator*

    #1 – Make a clear boundary and make it clear to your boss you are on your actual honeymoon and that no, you aren’t reachable. I worked at a small company once where boss had similar non-boundaries. A co-worker took off a week for his wedding and honeymoon. The wedding itself was to be a small family ceremony in an outdoor park on a weekday afternoon. Co-worker had multiple reasons for doing it this way and had shared those reasons with everyone at work, so everyone knew about it. On the wedding day, boss was upset that he could not find a specific document that co-worker had been working on. Boss was enraged that he couldn’t find co-worker. People reminded boss that co-worker was off that week. Boss demanded someone find him co-worker’s cell number so he could call him. He was about to call when someone remembered that at that moment that it was that afternoon that co-worker was having the actual marriage ceremony. Boss (and I am not making this up) wanted to know how long people thought the ceremony would be so that he could call him after. This ended up getting resolved with someone going and finding the document, and having an “are you serious?” talk with the boss about how interrupting someone’s actual wedding ceremony isn’t appropriate.

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      I once worked with a manager who wanted to know what hospital a colleague was giving birth at in case something came up while she was in labor!

    2. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

      I left a toxic company last year, and one example of the bad-boss toxicity: a woman was on bereavement for her sister’s passing. Her sister who had been suffering cancer and lived with my coworker (so we all knew she was going through difficult and challenging times). The boss called her dozens of times the day before and day of the funeral – but luckily (thankfully) she had left her work phone muted and didn’t look. I can only imagine how she felt when she saw these missed calls and messages, and guess what? She found a new employer within 2 months.

  36. Khatul Madame*

    Printing at home for work:
    This may be a good time to explore whether paperless processes would work for the business.

    1. Snark no more!*

      Oh please. If you have the room for multiple screens and no problems connecting to your work files, maybe you could go paperless. But working on one laptop screen on complicated projects means you sometimes have to print a document. I’ve been hearing about the paperless office for YEARS and it’s just not practical for all people or all businesses.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        *As I look at my desk covered with stacks of paper* Sometimes you just need to print things. We’ve tried to go as digital as possible and have cut back on printing, but there’s still quite a bit that needs to be printed for various reasons. Then when I’m finished with it, I shred the paper and use it for packing material. I feel guilty about all the printing, but at least I’m trying to re-purpose it afterward!

      2. White rabbit*

        Wow. All Khatul Madame said was to consider if some processes could be paperless. Seems very reasonable to do once in a while.

      3. jojo*

        This. We have a new paperless system. We now use at least twice as much paper as our former system. And the backup system, in case it goes down? Paper. Plus the paper inventory in case it goes down. Paperless system is so efficient. NOT.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That makes sense for a lot of things and a lot of people– but not for others. I prefer to proof-read a printed document. CAN I do it on a screen? Sure. But because of the way my eyes work, I do a better job with something that is printed.

      That’s a very, very small example, but the bottom line is that sometimes it’s not that simple and it’s not that helpful (nor is it the question).

  37. anon73*

    #1 – DO NOT let your boss guilt you into being available during your honeymoon. It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling or not. You have prepared them for what they need during this time and it is beyond unreasonable for your boss to even ASK if you can be available during this time.

    “This has been planned and approved since January. The timing may not be ideal, but I’ve prepared you for my absence and I won’t be available during my honeymoon.” Depending on your relationship, I would even consider adding “It’s unfair of you to make me feel guilty about taking time off for such an important event in my life” because honestly it IS unfair of them to put you in this situation.

  38. blink14*

    I can so relate to being a Mac user and having to use Windows at work! Honestly though, its not worth the wear and tear on your personal laptop. Replacing batteries gets expensive, and Windows programs just don’t quite work the same in their Mac versions, unless you are using a virtual PC setup.

    Push for the laptop to use at work and at home. At my old job, we had ancient computers and when mine died, I ended up using my personal laptop for a few days in the office, because there were no other options. I hated that my boss was constantly looking over my shoulder at what I was doing on my own laptop. A pro and a con at that job was that I really couldn’t work from home, because my boss required so much of the work to be done on paper or I didn’t have access to specific files and programs.

    At my current job, early on my boss and I decided we needed an office laptop, which we both shared when needed. Because of my workspace set up at the office, a desktop computer still makes sense, but I’ve been working remotely on the shared laptop since March, and there are things I really can’t do on my personal laptop, like connecting remotely to a shared drive and using certain programs – even if I had a PC at home, the university I work for would have to license use for those items on my personal machine, and I don’t want that. The only times I will ever use my personal laptop since starting this job several years ago, and going forward, is to check email if I’m out sick.

  39. Amethystmoon*

    #5. Many companies are not reimbursing for things like home office supplies. Since we are essential workers, we have been told we can go into the office to print. I save the ink-heavy stuff for at the office and print the rest at home, otherwise I would be in the office more than I want to be during a pandemic. And no, we can’t just not print. I was the only one on my team who was willing to go all digital. The others did not want to figure out how to do their jobs that way.

  40. Georgina Fredrika*

    #2 I had the same conundrum more or less – wanted to study abroad but it didn’t end up pulling together. Ended up working a year as an au pair after graduating (and was partially inspired to do so b/c the economy was bad and I didn’t want to be waitressing like half my friends were).

    -It took me 6 months to land a degree-relevant job after getting back, but I think some of that was just the result of being a newbie. I was very clueless and applying to literally anything and had little experience.
    -No one cares that I took a year off to do degree-irrelevant stuff. No one even pays attention to that year once you’re 5+ years into your career.
    -My experience abroad helped me later get another job abroad that propelled my career forward.

    1. HB*

      Seconding this! I taught English for a year after graduating. When I got back it took me about a year to find a full time job, but I was being pretty picky in terms of the industry I wanted to break into and was only applying to relevant jobs (it’s a small, niche industry, so those are few and far between, especially at the entry level – usually you need a Master’s degree!).

      In any case, there’s tons of year long programs you could look into and the economy might be better in a year. (rather than 3 months from now it’s looking questionable).

      No one questions my year off or year working retail (actually not even on my resume at this point), as I’ve been working 7 years now.

      1. Ashley*

        I was thinking the year working in another country / peace corp style program could work potentially. This will give you something for the resume but still let you be able to travel. This assumes of course these programs are operational for when you do graduate.

  41. Barbara in Swampeast*

    #5 and everyone else who has work expenses. Not only can you not deduct your work expenses, but any reimbursement you get can be TAXABLE!!!!
    Talk to your HR dept now. They have to set up an IRS-approved reimbursement plan at the beginning of the year in order to reimburse you tax free.

  42. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    If you already have a computer setup, I’d strongly prefer just being issued a virtual machine image. You basically run another entire computer as an application. It avoids having company hardware in your home to get damaged (or damaged in transit to or fro), avoids the company having to buy extra hardware to begin with, and having multiple setups (monitors, a second keyboard, mouse/trackball, etc, especially if you see benefit from pricier versions of those) or having to swap everything to switch computers (which is time consuming, risks damage, etc).

    It’s a hard sell to technical people, but installing Virtualbox in all four major OSs is easy, importing an OVA is easy, and launching a virtual machine is trivial. All the software can even be installed inside in advance, just like with a physical machine.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Nesting fail… this is a reply to one of the OSX/Windows situations.

      And I intended to mention that I’ve always found it to be a hard sell on non-technical types, but nearly deus ex machina to those who wrap their heads around it.

    2. nonegiven*

      My son has a Mac laptop from work, he uses a Linux vm for programming. His own laptop has Linux installed and a Windows vm because he has an occasional need for it for one of his hobbies. He’s pretty much covered for all his needs.

  43. College Career Counselor*

    For LW 2:
    I agree with Alison that traveling after graduation is unlikely to be a sticking point for most employers AND that new grads are going to have increased competition with more experienced people. That said, is it possible to consider an abroad work experience that might be related to your eventual career interests? Of course, I have no way of knowing from here what your academic background or professional goals are, but if you’re interested in a particular area of the world, you can look for short term work/internship experiences as sort of a post-college “gap term”.

    Off the top of my head, you might want to look at http://www.mountbatten.org, http://www.bunac.org, (princeton in asia) piaweb.princeton.edu/, languagecorps.com, or other broader websites such as http://www.transitionsabroad.com, etc.

    Again, during a global pandemic, I’m not sure how viable they are, but I gather that you’d not be doing this until at least January 2022, so things may be very different at that point. And, if the goal is multiple destination points as opposed to a single one, the above may not apply.

  44. I'm A Little Teapot*

    OP5 – you really should have a company supplied laptop, or just take your desktop home from the office if that’s feasible. I understand that in a pinch you were kind enough to use your personal laptop but that should have been remedied months ago.

  45. Spicy Tuna*

    LW#1, I know you’ve had this time earmarked since January, but honestly, the company you work for doesn’t care that you’re on your honeymoon. It’s not a great time, work wise, for you to be completely out of pocket for two weeks. You can assert your right to be unreachable on your vacation, but given the circumstances with COVID and the tenuous job market, it’s probably not a good look.

    I know it’s frustrating. I’ve had to cancel trips at the last minute because even though they were planned well in advance, something urgent for work came up. All things considered, I don’t think it’s too intrusive to allow yourself to be reached while you’re out, but with boundaries. So maybe something like you check in once a day at a set time for all questions.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      All things considered, I don’t think it’s too intrusive to allow yourself to be reached while you’re out, but with boundaries. So maybe something like you check in once a day at a set time for all questions.

      This is going to vary from employee to employee, but the best way for me to minimize my stress and maximize my benefit from the vacation is to not come back to a raging tire-fire. If I can donate back 5-30 min/day of my vacation to avoid that scenario, it’s time well invested to me.

      In short, managers, listen to your employees and take them at face value.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        Exactly… when I would take vacations before Blackberries and VPNs existed, the worst part was returning back to piles of work.

      2. Paulina*

        Short checkins can alleviate fires, but I also find I need a few consecutive days with no checkins to fully disconnect from work. So as you say, it varies.

      3. mediamaven*

        Oh SAME. It depends on the employee and the industry and the role but I feel much better kept in the loop when I’m traveling. Being disconnected for two weeks would leave me paralyzed.

    2. Lizy*

      Nope. OP said there’s nothing that can’t be handled without them. Once a day? Heck no. MAYBE shoot me an email if it’s super urgent, but really? Nothing’s so urgent it can’t wait. She’s on vaycay. Period.

    3. Jackalope*

      HARD disagree. The OP is getting married, and if her company doesn’t recognize that this is a different sort of vacation than others that’s on them. See what Hotdog not dog wrote earlier for their experience of putting the company first in a tight situation while on leave. And the OP has spent a great deal of time making sure that things can carry on without them. The boss wants to be able to contact them “in case something comes up”. For two weeks they can wait and hold off, or talk to one of the other people that OP has prepared to be able to step in, or access the extensive documentation that they prepared.

      A honeymoon is in part a way for a newly married couple to rest from the wedding and figure out their new relationship. As others have said, it’s also one of those times to put each other first. This is not a time to let work intrude and take first place. I agree that there are times work will win the call on one’s time instead of a spouse, but their honeymoon should NOT be that time.

    4. Observer*

      but honestly, the company you work for doesn’t care that you’re on your honeymoon

      Well, that goes in both directions. If the company doesn’t care that it’s OP’s honeymoon, OP doesn’t need to care that it’s a transition time – OP has done what is necessary for the transition to continue albeit with some possible inconvenience to the company.

  46. lapgiraffe*

    #2 – I studied abroad (Australia) and am so so so happy I moved the little mountains I had to in order to go. And while I agree with some of the commenters that traveling long term can actually be exhausting, what’s really lovely about study abroad is that you can establish yourself a bit, live like a local, slow down and enjoy the more mundane but lovely parts of the place you’re in.

    I also work in the wine industry and can tell you that people always need help with harvest and often can put you up in lieu of wages or make arrangements. Know when harvest is in New Zealand? Between Feb & April. Know what country has had a great record with Covid? New Zealand! Now who knows if you could get the required visa or find a job in time or what, but just throwing out an idea to think outside of the normal study abroad experience. It might be more interesting and easier to accomplish with covid unknowns to plop yourself somewhere for a few months, do some work, do some light travel, and experience another place in a way closer to what study abroad can be like.

    1. KiwiApple*

      Airfare is expensive to NZ and flights are still being cancelled frequently. You need to quarantine on arrival and you may be charged for that. It is difficult to get a visa, although potentially possible for something if they are short of workers (it was difficult to get mine but it’s a different visa)
      Vietnam and Taiwan also have excellent covid rates, but very little is said about them.

  47. CaptainoftheNoFunDepartment*

    OP#2 If you still really want to travel and it’s safe to do so when you graduate, I would highly recommend searching while you travel. It can take months for a job to pan out and this way you won’t be travelling and then coming home and waiting, you be using that waiting time to do something more fun. Depending on the industry, you might be able to interview while abroad. You just might need to be willing to cut your trip a little shorter than planned! Good luck!

  48. CRM*

    OP#2: Pre-pandemic, there were plenty of short-term volunteer and work opportunities abroad. I have no idea what opportunities are available now, or what will be possible in the future (keep in mind that it will likely take years/decades for many nations to recover from this crisis), but that’s what I would be looking into if I were you. It would give you something to put on your resume while having that wanderlust experience that you’re craving. Depending on the industry, it may even help your resume stand out.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with spending a few years establishing your career before you go out exploring. Having some extra savings on hand is truly beneficial when you travel internationally! You have a lot more options, it’s easier to travel safely, and you won’t be SOL if an emergency arises. There are a lot of people here saying “do it now, you won’t be able to later” but that’s not true. As long as you make it a priority for your future, you can make it happen.

  49. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP1 (honeymoon) – I agree with a couple of the other comments that said it isn’t an ideal time/situation to go completely ‘off grid’ right now especially being a ‘key person’ in this transformation.
    Could you compromise with the boss by agreeing a certain window of time (10am-12pm Tuesday and Thursday, or whatever) that you would potentially be available and draw a boundary on the rest of the time?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. While no one wants to be contacted on their honeymoon, or really any PTO, and employers shouldn’t expect people to be available, the reality is that sometimes that’s just the way it is when you’re a key person or very involved in a big hush-hush project. Especially if you’re higher up in the hierarchy, in a small company, doing all the things OP does.

  50. linda*

    Same! I regularly say “let me see what I can do” when I mean that I’m not sure, but I’ll look into it. So no promises, but it’s definitely not a blow off and I do come back with a solution many times. Guess I should change that up.

  51. Helen J*

    I think it’s ridiculous to ask someone to be available for work calls during their honeymoon. Unless you are the owner and the building is on fire or something.

  52. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#1, I’m in almost the same boat! I have no advice but this is an excuse to vent. I got married during lockdown (at home, over Zoom, in the spring). I manage a small apartment complex and am the only person in the office, so I pre-plan EVERYTHING because I have to borrow someone from another site to fill in for me and that requires advance notice. I requested off a week in November for my honeymoon since it was during our slower season but before the holidays, so it would be less of an inconvenience. I had this time requested off and approved 11 months ahead of time, and now I’m being told no one can cover for me due to other people’s vacations and work projects. The office will be closed for a week(!) and if there’s an emergency that maintenance can’t handle, then I have to take the call. I’m absolutely livid, as I won’t be able to fully decompress and I can’t reschedule, as everyone and their mom has PTO scheduled for the rest of the year so there’s not a better time. I can roll over the week of vacation to next year, but there’s no guarantee anyone can cover me then so there’s no point. I’m not traveling due to the pandemic, but what if my original plans were still in place and I was across the country in a different time zone?

    1. Ally McBeal*

      If you had your vacation approved ELEVEN months ago, then the other people should not have been allowed to take vacation. That’s really messed up.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      What? That’s awful. I hope you can find a way to push back, and take your honeymoon as planned!

  53. Kitano*

    Letter #1 – Having just had a tough time with my partner for working too much and making him feel like a second-fiddle to my job, I’m very much biased toward advising you to turn off your phone and ignore work for the entirety. I’d advise you to ask yourself some hard questions:

    Will you ever get a second honeymoon? Will your partner ever feel like they’re a priority in your life if you can’t even prioritize them for two weeks during your freakin’ honeymoon? In 5 years, when you’re in a different job, which would you regret more – having put your honeymoon aside in favor of your boss, or putting your boss aside in favor of your marriage?

  54. Kage*

    #2- So (US), in my head “graduating a semester early” means getting out in December not May. If this is the timeframe, the other post-COVID thing I would keep in mind is that graduating at that alternate/non-common time could work heavily in your favor in this job market. If you get out in December while the majority of new-grads get out in May, you’ll have fewer new-grad competitors for any jobs. If you delay, you’ll overlap more with your classmates and could have a harder time finding a job. In this economy/market, that alone could be worth not delaying…

  55. Growlcat*

    I’m the work-from-home Mac user. What great advice to consider! I’m going to ask my boss to go ahead and budget for a laptop to replace my ancient office desk top computer. If a Mac version of Word’s Office includes Publisher, she may agree to a Mac laptop. So I’ll use the ideas you’ve given me to research what is available. But if I can’t get Publisher, I guess I just need to bite the bullet and use a PC. I think she’ll be fine with me keeping track of printer expenses if I calculate per page printing. So I’ll look into that, too. One of my colleagues is complaining about her printing costs, too, so coming up with a printing reimbursement plan would help both of us. ( My Mac version of Word was loaded with disks which I can’t find. So, yeah, it was old but I only used it for personal stuff like address labels that Pages is crappy with so I didn’t care. Also, I think every time Word gets updated, it gets worse.)

  56. Firecat*

    #3 Sorry my company only wants recommendations for people I’ve worked with in similar roles.

    Your best bet is [app process] good luck!

    That’s hard to argue and doesn’t make it clear *you don’t want to* if that’s a fear.

  57. jeweled tortoise*


    I don’t know what industry you’re in, but mine looks at international mobility as a plus. If you took some months to travel I would think it would sound great to an employer. Traveling will give you independence, confidence, and most importantly perspective. For me it would be a hands down yes.

  58. Empress Matilda*

    #1, I agree that you absolutely should not have to take work calls on your honeymoon! Definitely manage everyone’s expectations there, and do whatever you can to not answer your phone or check your email.

    That said, I can also understand your boss’ worry – everyone is feeling extra anxious these days, for all kinds of reasons. So, would it help to do a little risk management exercise? Make a list of several possible scenarios, and who to contact if/when they come up. Not just the day to day issues (for printer problems, contact the service desk/ for budget, contact accounting; etc), but add in some really big ones too.

    *If a staff member contracts Covid: implement the Covid procedure which we have already developed
    *If project X blows up: do A,B,C internally, and send me an email to read when I get back
    *If a staff member is charged with embezzlement and tries to flee the country: contact the police and send me an email
    *If there is a literal fire and the building is burning to the ground: call 911. *After the fire is out,* please call me at my personal number to let me know that everyone is safe.

    I’m being a little facetious here, but the idea is to reassure your boss that you really do have all the bases covered – even for issues that aren’t likely to come up. I would start by making a list on your own, and offer to go over it with her in person. Also try to get her to expand on what she means by “something” that might go wrong. Maybe she actually is worried about Covid – that’s okay, we have a plan for that! Maybe she’s worried that the city will rezone your building and try to run the Santa Claus parade route through your lunch room- we don’t have a plan for that, but also it’s not very likely, so if it does happen, yes you can call me at home.

    You don’t necessarily need to give her time to articulate every possible concern she might have, but it’s worth hearing her out and trying to address what you can. If all she can come up with is a vague “something,” you can reassure her that you have an excellent team, everybody knows what they’re doing, and you’re confident that they’ll be fine for two weeks while you’re gone.

    Good luck, and enjoy your honeymoon!

  59. Dasein9*

    OP#1, that’s an awful lot of loyalty your job is asking for! Will the job guarantee to be with you in sickness and in health? How about for richer or for poorer? Will this job help with the bedpan if you become ill or injured? Will the job get up to feed the baby because you need the sleep?

    Companies keep asking for more and more from us, while also offering less and less.
    Your boss’ request is common, but no less unreasonable for all that.

  60. Analyst Editor*

    For LW2: nothing is forever – not this pandemic, not the recession. If you don’t have specific ambitions to get into a specific industry that only recruits at specific times on specific campuses and the only other way in is an Ivy League MBA — think, top-tier consulting or I-banking – then take your travel. Contrary to what Mr. Dan says up-thread, when you work there will not be long periods of total freedom; there will always be more work, household responsibilities, and family responsibilities that will constrain you in a way they don’t now.
    And on the flip-side, there will be jobs and opportunities; and in this unprecedented situation, everything is in CHAOS: which can be really bad, especially for swell-structured pl0ans, but can also have upsides nobody can predict.
    When I was in college, I took my hardest courses during recruitment season, both for internships and for full-time jobs. I missed out on a lot and my materials that I did submit were kind of sucky. It wasn’t wise, but I found a job anyway: interesting and at time rewarding.

    Good luck!

  61. Ms not Mr*

    Hi #5, after a direct talk with my boss I recently submitted a $200 reimbursement request for various things I bought since we started working from home in March: wireless mouse and mousepad, pens/highlighters, seat cushion, Zoom subscription, notepads, Post Its.

    Things I didn’t ask for reimbursement were new laptop (although it was hinted that I could ask for that, I ended up not taking them up on that offer because I worried they would want the laptop when I leave the job), big monitor (same issue as laptop), cheapo desk/table, and updated phone plan to have more internet (was also told I could get reimbursement for this, at least the difference between old plan and new plan, but I haven’t gotten around to it), fancy bluetooth headphones with mic for phone calls (felt a little too fancy to ask for it and I use it for personal use as well).

    For paper I’ve gone back to the office on occasion and grabbed another ream, as needed.

  62. Gina Rosar*

    We worked from home for 3.5 months this year and like LW I used my personal equipment for work. I also stopped by the office once per week to pick up paperwork needing to be processed and dropping off processed work. What I did was order supplies through the supply company we use at work on their account (it was actually part of my job description anyway) that would work in my home computer. Ex: Ink, calc ribbons, and calc paper. I had those supplies delivered to the office for the day I would be there so no extra trips. I also picked up a ream or two of paper each week. (My job is paper intensive.) Once I ran out of ink suddenly and I stopped at a local office supply chain. I kept the receipt and submitted it for petty cash.

    But I discussed all of this as we were transitioning to WFH with my boss. So if you haven’t already discussed it you need to do it now. Figure an average of paper use, ink and other consumables like paper clips and the like. Either have them give you gift cards for a local office supply store or let you submit petty cash receipts for the items.

  63. AKchic*

    LW1 – “I will be on my *honeymoon* and by mutual agreement, we are not taking any calls, texts, or emails from anyone, including our own families. I have left information and instructions already.” It’s two weeks, not two months or two years. These plans of theirs? They’ll keep for two weeks, I promise. If any of them try to make noise about your disloyalty or lack of commitment to the “team” or in any way attempt to ding or fire you, remember that you have more power and control in this than you think. You are a skilled and valuable worker. They just want to use you as a crutch rather than do something on their own.

    LW3- you can easily say that you have a policy of not mixing business with personal and never recommend friends. Act a little conspiratorially, and say that you’ve been burned before and be apologetic. He’ll push and say he isn’t that person, he won’t screw you over, blah blah blah and that’s when you play the card: you *can’t*. That person burned you so badly at THIS very employer that anyone you recommend will be side-eyed.

    LW4- At this point, the manager knows what she’s doing. She doesn’t care. It’s time to loop in the semi-retired owner. If he doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter. All of you should abandon ship.

  64. fhqwhgads*

    #2 in terms of the advice-for-now, I’d be less concerned that employers would look poorly on you for a few months gap, and more worried that given the state of the world and the unknowns of how long it might take to get a job post-graduation, you might regret spending the money on the travel when it could’ve instead been a cushion if job searching takes longer than you’d hoped.

  65. rmd*

    Regarding availability while on a honeymoon – I work in a group that’s pretty good about respecting work/life balance for things like this, but since I’m a senior individual contributor and there’s some stuff where I really am the only subject matter expert, I gave my boss the contact info that would work while I was on my honeymoon and explained that if he really needed me, he could reach out, but the cost would be that my entire honeymoon would be considered comp time. They did not call me.

  66. Purrscilla*

    LW #2 – are you interested in graduate school at all? I didn’t study abroad in college, but I did a 1-year Master’s degree in the UK. You might check if there’s a program in a country you are interested in going to that is within your budget.

  67. Practical advice*

    While I agree a honeymoon is important….I would also say in this environment so is having a job. You know, the ability to pay bills.

    Mt vote is making yourself available…but not easily. No hard line imho

  68. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW 1 – I think it is definitely reasonable to say you won’t be available, especially since it sounds like you have put in a lot of work up front to make sure they will be okay without you. The only things I would think about in this situation are 1) what is your relationship with your boss like/how reasonable is she, and 2) would being away for two weeks make things more stressful for you when you get back?

    Sometimes it might be worth taking a call or two to avoid a huge mess that you have to deal with when you return, but that doesn’t sound likely to be the case here given what you have described. It seems like they will have to find a way to solve things themselves rather than wait for you. And I would only consider it if you thought your boss was reasonable enough to truly only contact you if it is really important. If your history with her makes it seem like she would take advantage than definitely to not agree.

    If you do decide for some reason that you want to be potentially available, I like your wording. Make it clear it should only be for something seriously important and that you can’t promise you will respond on any particular timeline. But again, I think there is no reason you need to agree at all.

    Congratulations and enjoy your honeymoon!

  69. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW2 – I think your question is mostly about the optics of having a gap on your resume between graduating and starting a job, and I think the answer to that is that there is definitely nothing to worry about on that front. I think for most people it would sounds reasonable to say you took some time to see the world after graduation, and especially since you are graduating early. If you can speak to things you learned along the way it might even make for good interview conversation!

    Alison’s answer is more about the financial aspect, which makes sense since everything is so crazy right now! But if you have a good safety net and/or plan to live with your parents until you find a job or are otherwise not too concerned about how long the job hunt might take, then I think you should definitely take advantage of this chance to travel now while you’ve got fewer responsibilities.

    If you would be looking in the types of fields that actively seek new grads, then I think this could work out really well timing wise. I would go ahead and start applying now (if you aren’t already), and those type of places would expect you to not be available until May or June anyway, when the rest of your class graduates. I’m in accounting and they hire a lot of people straight out of school–I was hired in December with a start date of the following June.

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