updates: exclamation point overload, the person who caused a Covid panic, and more

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

1. Student who uses tons of exclamation points (#3 at the link)

I thought I would send in an update to my very inconsequential letter from last year about whether to coach a student who uses too many exclamation points. I’m a woman in STEM, so my career has been a tightrope of trying to fit in with my male colleagues while also still being myself. It’s exhausting! I read through all the commenters and thought it over and decided not to talk to the student. Instead, I decided to just use however many exclamation points I felt like and as a result, my writing has evolved! I’m feeling more comfortable now with who I am, and as a result, I’m more comfortable tackling sexism and bias in my field and department and teaching my mentees how to advocate for themselves and others. So, it was a small question, but it has made me evolve and stop trying to fit into oppressive systems rather than dismantling them. I mean, I thought I was dismantling them, but if such a thing as using exclamation points could take up so much space in my brain, I guess I wasn’t….

2. Is my first job supposed to be crappy?

I wrote to you four years ago asking how to tell if an entry level position was super crummy or just the regular amount of crummy. I guess it’s not the type of question that has a satisfying conclusion, but I’ve learned a lot since then and I’d like to share.

They offered me the job, and I took it. It was the regular amount of crummy. I struggled a bit with the pay and the work was boring and pointless, but it was a calm, professional, respectful office run by reasonable people. It was an okay place to start out!

Looking back, I’m kind of amused that I presented my mental health as “stable and well-managed.” It was not! I was actually struggling with a lot of stuff, with the guilt and anxiety of unemployment on top. I didn’t want to get a job, I wanted to sleep for a year and I was hoping someone would give me an excuse to just walk away from a source of stress. But I took the job, and things worked out. Getting away from my parents was a big help, and after a promotion and a raise I was finally able to afford therapy, which helped dramatically. I’m now 2 years sober, in the midst of a gender transition (he/they), and pretty content all things considered!

I have a new job now, and a much more comfortable salary, but it came with a different set of frustrations. The environment is the toxic opposite of that nice, chill first office, and I have issues with many of our business practices. Still, I think I was better equipped to cope with that having worked somewhere reasonable first (and having gotten the chance to work on my mental health). I understand better now that a less than ideal situation doesn’t necessarily mean a dead end, there will always be trade offs, and I always have options. And the more experience I gain, the better I can navigate those options and trade offs.

Everyone starts somewhere! And I’m very glad I started at my first job, rather than the one I hold now. I am doing okay under the circumstances, but a younger coworker who was in their first fulltime job flamed out pretty hard in under a year. It was difficult to watch, because they reminded me a lot of myself straight out of college, and I feel pretty strongly that the problem was more our toxic workplace than anything they did. But we are both young, and (hopefully) have time to grow. I hope both of our next steps lead to something better!

Thank you again for answering my question compassionately four years ago, and thanks to the commenters who shared their experiences. I read your advice every day and it’s helped me out a lot!

3. I caused a coronavirus panic at work (#3 at the link). The first update is here and this is the latest:

I ended up leaving that job and moving across the country with family. Taking a break from working or even looking. Not sure what I’ll do then, because of my health issues

I strongly believe I had covid early this year, before a test was available. Doctors didn’t know enough then to diagnose it either. My whole year has been consumed by the pandemic- from having it, constantly worrying I could be an infection vector, medical bills, putting my whole life on hold, anger at irresponsible people and govt, taking triple precautions at work and my workplace also instating precautions like daily check-ins and limited area contact, etc. I am also dealing with long term health repercussions from covid. Stress and risk from the hour long bus ride each way to work, the emotional toll of how high stakes everything is and others not taking it seriously. A whole ordeal.

So I left my well paid job behind and am taking a break. Still not sure what I can do with my worsened health, given that I was disabled before this even. Hoping some rest with loved ones can help me heal. I felt a lot of sadness on my last week at work. Everyone there was so nice to me, and they gave me a generous going away gift. I have regrets, but this change is the best thing for me right now. Here’s to a good 2021!

4. An update from Friday good news (#2 at the link)

I am so happy to report that things at my new job worked out better than expected. The culture fit at my new employer is better than I could have ever hoped for. There is a night and day difference between how New Job and Old Job are handling the pandemic. I have only been to our office once, on my first day, to get my computer and anything else I needed. Starting a new job while working from home is challenging, but my manager was prepared with necessary training, and is available to lend his experience as needed, but other than that I am left with a ton of independence to complete my work as I see fit–including reaching out to other managers etc as needed. This is a HUGE change from my last job, where any email to someone other than my supervisor needed to be approved by her in writing (even within my own department, to my peers). Going from that level of heavy handed micromanaging to working directly with senior leadership on a regular basis was enough to make my head spin. The work is challenging without being overwhelming, and it’s amazing the difference in your stress levels when you move on from a toxic workplace to somewhere that truly values their employees and their safety.

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. Des*

    “where any email to someone other than my supervisor needed to be approved by her in writing (even within my own department, to my peers)”

    I’m absolutely baffled that there are supervisors out there who are so low on things to do they have time to approve emails to peers!

    1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

      I’ve definitely reviewed, edited, and approved direct reports emails to a judge. But that’s only when they are new and also there are potential ethical rules that apply and I certainly don’t review their emails to prosecutors (unless they ask me for suggestions on wording or for a tone check because they know they’re getting angry about a situation.)

      But I do not have the time to do your job and mine.

    2. LW4*

      So, I’ll chime in just to baffle you further—this wasn’t just from my manager. It was a directive from our CFO, to the entire department. Seriously.

      1. Forrest*

        wait so — technically, was your manager supposed to get approval from their manager before they emailed you back to say, “yeah, that’s fine, you can send it?”

        1. Loosey Goosey*

          I think it’s not that the CFO had to review emails; it’s that the rule of “managers must approve emails” came from the CFO. So this wasn’t the manager’s own initiative, she was being directed to do it by her boss. It’s hard to even imagine how much time this policy wasted, or how you could get any work done in a place where you can’t even email your colleagues without approval…bonkers.

    3. Birdie*

      The amount of extra time that would add to EVERYTHING is just mind-boggling. I don’t get how anyone could possibly find it worthwhile given the incredible slow-down in productivity that would come with it.

    4. Elenna*

      My (wonderful) manager will, like most managers (I assume), sometimes review my emails to other teams before sending if they’re about touchy subjects, or if I’m responding to a question with a bunch of technical analysis and they want to make sure I’m not missing anything. But every single email? Who has that kind of time??

  2. I am Jack's Something-or-Other*

    Is anyone else seeing these unrelated, off-topic embedded videos playing at the top of the comment section on each blog post? It’s always a 2-3 minute random news or sports broadcast. They started popping up on this site a few weeks ago and I’d like to learn how to turn them off. (I haven’t seen any announcements or explanations about this change.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. Yes, it’s a new ad. Online advertising is way down for most sites since the pandemic. I need revenue to keep the site going, and so I’m experimenting with new ad formats. This one probably won’t continue past December but I’m still gathering revenue data.

      2. If it’s auto-playing sound, that’s prohibited here. If you get one that does that, please report it to me using the link for bad ads that’s right above the comment box. Please do NOT post about it here, because I don’t read all comments (so it’s a crapshoot whether or not I’ll see it). I see everything that gets reported via the ad report link.

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m curious if anyone ever has had to give an exclamation point talk. I had a student who used them after nearly every sentence, and I agonized over saying something every time she sent me an email.

    This is one of those fascinating little question that’s really a huge question about how we relate to other humans, and I appreciate the update.

    1. Creative writing geek*

      The overuse of exclamation points is poor writing!!! LW1 should not have shied away from pointing this out!!!

      1. Pippa K*

        Multiple exclamation marks always remind me of Terry Pratchett.
        ‘And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.’ (from Maskerade)

      2. Llama face!*

        I’ll take the excessive exclamation points over the person who uses ellipses as their only punctuation. Why? Just why?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I feel the need to justify my frequent use of ellipses here … I don’t use them at work!!!!

        2. SomebodyElse*

          Oh dear… that’s me I think. If it helps, I often also overuse commas :) Just to shake things up.

        3. Quill*

          There are… a lot of people who just take a wild stab at punctuation. Because they don’t, apparently, know how it affects tone!

          (Overall I think it may have something to do with how so much more of our communication these days is written, and people not tracking how wildly conventions diverge just with different input mechanisms. It is so much faster to type an exclamation point on a phone than write more and longer words to clarify your intentions, and when it comes to less frequently used punctuation… that’s way too many taps.)

        4. Elenna*

          Yeah, I think I use a fairly large number of ellipses (more so in casual online spaces like this one, rather than at work) but it’s always in places where I would pause/trail off if I were saying stuff out loud. (I also might overuse slashes, brackets, and the word “yeah” :D ) But sticking them between each sentence is… just ridiculous.

        5. The Other Dawn*

          I use ellipses a lot, but it’s not my only punctuation. There is, however, an industry newsletter I get every month and the writer doesn’t use any periods at all in between sentences, only ellipses. He uses a period only at the end of the last sentence in a particular subject matter section. It drives me nuts.

      3. MHA*

        Overuse of exclamation point is STYLISTICALLY poor writing, which is something that doesn’t matter to many, many positions– I’d go as far as to say that I’ve never had a single manager that had stylistically solid writing skills. As long as the student is able to communicate her message and have other people understand it properly, I don’t see any problem with her using exclamation points to her heart’s content!

    2. Dr. AK*

      Hi! I’m OP1 who originally wrote in about this. My student wasn’t using tons of exclamation points!!!! Like this!!! Rather, they were just using them to end sentences that could have ended with a period. “I finished that data analysis you asked for!” and things like that.

      I watched a great documentary recently, Picture a Scientist, where one of the scientists mentions a similar thing that I was experiencing–basically code-switching for emails. Always policing her own tone so that she would be taken seriously. I related to that hardcore. And I’ve talked with several prominent, successful women in our field about how much space in our brain juggling being a woman in science takes up. And how many science problems we aren’t solving because of it. So….I just decided to stop devoting my brain power to exclamation points in emails. That’s literally not what gets anyone hired in my field and not what matters to our reputations (if my student put exclamation points in their research statement or journal article, that’s something I would and have corrected). I love Alison’s advice all the time to take a step back and ask yourself if something is really important to the job. I reflected and realized email exclamation points are not!

      1. Llama face!*

        Code-switching for emails really describes it well. I’m not a scientist (I am in what could be described as a pink collar field of work) but I end up doing this all the time.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        OP1, I LOVE your update and I love that you’ve decided to stop devoting brain power to trying to fit into the science field. Please continue to smash the patriarchy by being the person and the scientist you are!

        A Woman Who Works in Politics (but is not a politician)

      3. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        That was so comforting to read, Dr. AK- I’m the only female scientist on my team, and have noticed recently how much of my energy has been taken up thinking about non-science work stuff. It’s sort of like a weight off my shoulders reading that it might be okay to not care so much about all that stuff, that someone else decided to stop caring and the sky didn’t fall. Academia would do well to gain many more women like you!

      4. Mockingjay*

        I have the opposite problem. My emails are concise and to the point. I’m a woman in a STEM-related field (technical support, contracted – you could call it pink) and my emails are usually about critical project status, an action that needs to be done by due date, and so on. The government project lead goes on and on about wanting ‘BLUF’ emails from the team (bottom line up front), so that’s what I give him, same as everyone else.

        He never reads or responds to my emails unless I add softening language and smiley faces. DRIVES ME OUT OF MY MIND. I am only one of two women on the team. (Yes, I’ve called him out on it. He doesn’t get it. This is the same guy who was completely befuddled when I refused to let him hug me goodbye at the end of a meeting and told him a professional handshake would suffice.) The thing is, I am proud of my writing: it’s clear and accurate. But I have to code-switch in order to convey info?

        1. S*

          This reminds me of a job I had many many years ago. I was a technical writer. We discovered that our “tech tips” got much better traction if the ones going to executives were short and to the point, and the ones going to admin staff had … wait for it … gifs. Stupid, dancing, tiny clip-art gifs would get people’s attention, and then they’d read the tech tip, and then they’d learn something. I dunno!? Meet people where they are, I guess!

        2. Aitch Arr*

          I’ve gotten feedback that my emails are too blunt or rigid. I guess I don’t use enough exclamation points or emojis.

      5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        If anything I think it’s nice that she’d put an exclamation mark at the end of “I finished the report”. It shows that she’s excited at getting her work done. Enthusiasm is a wonderful trait, too often quashed by dour people at work.

    3. S*

      I’ve always thought of exclamation point usage as the written equivalent of question-talk: like, when your voice goes up? At the end of every sentence? Gonna age myself here and say that it sounds like a Valley Girl?
      It’s absolutely stylistic, and style is absolutely one of the things that women get called out for in EVERY FIELD. And I love love LOVE that OP recognized it as such. Let’s stop pouring our efforts into hiding our youthful enthusiasm and pour that youthful enthusiasm into DOING THE WORK.

    4. JelloStapler*

      I work in higher education as an advisor and I have gently counseled students on professional communication. This includes not writing an email like a text message, signing their name and using punctuation. I think I have on;y commented on exclamation points once. it was when an email looked like this:
      “HI!!! I wanted to know if you should switch my class!!!!! NOt the 8 am one!!!!! LOL!!!!” :)

    5. PT*

      When I was nonprofit I pretty much had to increase the number of exclamation points in my emails, or people would say I was cold, hostile, uncaring, unfriendly, and unwelcoming.

      It was irritating.

      Hello everyone! Just to let you know, tomorrow February 31st there will be a fire alarm test! This will be between 10 and 11 am! Please do not evacuate when you hear this alarm! Thank you!


      1. Kikishua*

        This reminds me SO MUCH of “Corporate” episode 2.4 in which “Matt’s broken exclamation point key strains his relationship with John and Kate.” because everyone assumes he’s angry, it becomes a whole thing and eventually….

        I love a good dysfunctional workplace comedy. Still missing “Better Off Ted”.

      2. Lisa*

        Ha! At one of my very earliest jobs at a nonprofit, I was told exclamation points in emails made me seem abrasive, pushy and overbearing. I’m a woman and the feedback was from women. There’s no winning.

  4. Major Tom*

    Rather than quit a good job because of discomfort riding public transportation, why didn’t LW 3 think of buying a car?

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Maybe parking is a nightmare where they work/live making public transportation a better option. Maybe they can’t afford the down payment. Maybe they don’t have a driver’s license.

    2. Dasein9*

      She most likely did think about it. Perhaps she lived in a major city with a robust public transportation system. In places like this, it can take just as long to drive and park as to take the bus and it is quite a bit more expensive to own a car than in other places, since parking, parking tickets (there _will_ be tickets), insurance, and the car payment itself are more expensive. The calculation for what counts as “well-paying” changes when the expense of a car is factored in.

    3. Chompers*

      This is weird and privileged. Not everyone can just go out and buy a car because public transport isn’t ideal right now.

      1. pope suburban*

        Nor can everyone drive! OP mentions having a disability, and it’s not exactly far-fetched to think that it may be one that impacts their ability to drive safely or comfortably. I’m sure that OP is aware that people can buy cars, and I’m sure they had perfectly excellent reasons not to go that route. Agreed that this is a weird and privileged take.

        1. covid panic LW*

          This is exactly right, part of my disability means I can’t drive safely. I am legally not allowed to for medical reasons. It was very frustrating to be in that situation, and using public transit required all kinds of sacrifices. (prefer he pronouns though!)

          and when I say well paying, I mean for the kind of work I do. I’m still very solidly low income. My disability qualified me for a substantial discount on the bus pass so… bonus?

          1. allathian*

            Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope that you’ll feel better soon and will be able to work again. Is your field the kind where it’s even conceivable to WFH full-time? If so, maybe you could look into getting a 100% WFH job when you feel ready to start working again. That should at least help with the very understandable anxiety you have about public transit.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Disabled, spent a long time out of work because of various stress related issues here. I’m with you on this year being particularly stressful on those of us with bodies/minds that stubbornly refuse to cooperate with us. It’s been a horrible balance between ‘stuff I need to do in order to earn money to live’ and ‘stuff I need to do to make sure a deadly virus doesn’t spread’.

            Take time to let the mind gremlins settle down, they will eventually. (I didn’t and it didn’t go well for me). Take care of yourself mate.

      2. Birdie*

        Yeah, “just buy a car” is not a reasonable solution here. I live in a big city and do not own a car. I have thought about buying one a couple of times lately since I’m pretty much limited to places I can get to on foot, but I know the costs, inconvenience (street parking only), and added anxiety and stress (I HATE driving, especially in cities) would not make it a good solution to what will hopefully not be a forever problem. And I’m fortunate to even be in the position to consider it since I am able to drive, have a valid license, and could afford a car if I decided to prioritize it. That’s not true for everyone.

        LW, I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. I hope your time of rest and recovery is healing for you and that 2021 will bring great things!

        1. Le Sigh*

          Also live in a major city and I do own a car, but I wouldn’t drive it to work unless I absolutely had to and work was willing to pay the cost. I bought one to b/c it makes it easier to pick up furniture and groceries, and to make trips outside the metro area. But in pre-COVID times, I took public transit to work because a) driving to work takes as long as transit and b) unless you somehow find street parking (lololol), which still costs money, daily garage parking is minimum $20/day (and that’s before wear/tear and gas). My job wouldn’t pay for since I didn’t actually have to drive to work. I could technically afford to pay that, but even if OP could drive, they might not have a salary that makes that feasible.

          Whereas my parents live in an area entirely dependent on cars, which has serious downsides, too. Right now it’s safer than public transit, but their car keeps breaking down, so we keep having to get it repaired because they have to be able to drive.

          1. EchoGirl*

            I live in a suburb of a major city and I’ve pretty well decided that for the foreseeable future short of an absolute dream job, I won’t be pursuing opportunities in the heart of the city even though I do have a car because it’s just t00 hard to drive in that area (we have decent public transit but even apart from COVID, I don’t do well with short-range trains and making the trip with buses only is not feasible). It’s limiting, but a job isn’t going to do much for me if just getting there is a massive hassle.

      3. boop the first*

        Buying a car is like adopting a special needs pet.
        Had to plan my week around making sure it was “fed and exercised” properly, had to take it in for maintenance every few months, which often led to a big “vet” bill once a year when something inevitably went wrong.

        I like buses because I can stop thinking about them when I’m back on foot.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Because the cost between a car and public transportation is astronomically different. Between the basic costs of parking costs, registration, insurance and just gas you’re talking about hundreds more than a bus pass.

      1. introverted af*

        Let alone the actual car you would have to buy – even an old clunker that’s old enough to be cheap but still reliable is gonna be a couple thousand.

      2. EchoGirl*

        +1. I technically got my car for “free” (it’s an old one my in-laws were getting rid of) but it still cost us several hundred dollars to get the title changed, plus the increased cost of insurance for 2 cars/drivers vs. 1, and the basics like gas and oil changes (and I don’t drive very much at all, so I don’t have to do either all that often, but someone commuting to work every day would), and the fact that if something major does happen, we’ll be on the hook for it.

        And all of that is before you get into the other major issue, which is that not everyone can drive (and OP has indicated further up the thread that he’s legally barred from driving). I can drive NOW, but I didn’t get my license until age 27, a full 11 years after what most people in the USA think of as “driving age”, so even though I find driving makes my life much easier, I’m still a little more sensitive to the “why don’t you drive then” mentality than most drivers.

    5. Roci*

      LW3 almost certainly thought of that. I sincerely doubt there is anyone in North America who has not considered buying a car. And then maybe decided not to or realized it wasn’t feasible.

    6. Quill*

      Possibly it wasn’t feasible or affordable based on the current situation. Not everyone can drive, and sometimes driving is basically impossible for getting where you’re going efficiently. (think: most cities that actually have robust public transport systems within the US.)

    7. chewingle*

      Lol really?

      “Have the homeless ever thought about not being homeless?”
      “Have sick people ever tried not being sick?”

      This is so tone-deaf.

  5. Sarah H.*

    I love that OP1 decided to change her communication style rather than managing her student’s! My company’s CEO, who is a male over the age of 50, uses SO many exclamation points in his emails (!!!…!!!!!). It’s a bit of a [loving] joke across the company, but it aligns with his very enthusiastic personality. If men aren’t expected to curb it even at the highest levels of leadership, why should women be?

      1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        I disagree. My male supervisor uses exclamation points and he is very well respected. Exclamation points may not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t make it universally bad.

        1. Creative writing geek*

          1. He’s supposed to be a CEO, not a golden retriever. He may be “good at his job” but is still the but of jokes for poor writing.

          2. Occasionally very talented people can get away with creating a shtick that others cannot. (See the “I don’t use email” letter earlier today.) if this person is the next ee cummings or bell hooks, by all means don’t use capital letters.

          1. SimplyTheBest*

            I usually use more than one data point to decide whether or not to take somebody seriously. Using too many exclamation point is so far down on the list of things I could care about from my CEO. Does he treat his employees well? Does he do his job well? Is he well respected by his peers? All these things are way more important than whether or not he uses an extra mark or not.

            Most people have idiosyncrasies. They’re not losing people’s respect over one little thing.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            I think it’s kind of weird that you’re insisting that these people who you have never met cannot possibly be taken seriously at their jobs unless they’re the next bell hooks, when the people who actually know and work with them are saying otherwise. People can make jokes about the minor idiosyncrasies of others while still taking them and their work seriously.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Whoa, no. Please trust that other people know more about their colleagues than you do from a few sentences on the internet.

            Lots of respected people use exclamation points. Lots of respected people aren’t great writers, for that matter.

            1. allathian*

              “Lots of respected people use exclamation points. Lots of respected people aren’t great writers, for that matter.”

              Indeed. Using a lot of exclamation points doesn’t necessarily make someone a bad writer, though, and especially not if the person can code switch and only uses a lot of exclamation points in emails. Especially if the person who does it is enthusiastic in their personal communication, as the OP said their CEO is. That said, it would feel slightly odd to read emails with lots of exclamation points from someone who has a very calm or even melancholy demeanor. Of course, if you’re only ever communicating by email with someone, personality is a lot harder to read.

          4. Quill*

            Possibly he’s more respected because it’s easier to ignore a quirk about unconventional punctuation than it is to ignore someone who decides to Custer’s last stand about punctuation.

          5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            He’s still the top person at his company, though!!! Looks like the exclamation points did not impact his career!!!!

      2. BubbleTea*

        Even if this were true, I’m having trouble picturing why it would matter. If someone is well liked personally, and professionally successful (as a CEO surely is), what would not being taken seriously look like, and why would I care?

      3. kt*

        He still gets that CEO title and CEO money. Hm. I’ll take it. I’d be happy to be the CEO with the wonderful salary who “isn’t taken seriously” yet can go from CEO job to CEO job…

  6. GreyjoyGardens*

    LW 2, so glad to hear you are doing so well personally! It sounds like a lot of what was impacting your happiness at work had nothing to do with work. Away from parents + sober + transitioning + therapy = so much weight off your back and so much more energy to put into your life.

    “Wherever you go, there you are” applies to work as to everything else. Sure, some jobs ARE toxic (it’s hard not to believe “most” if you read AAM every day, lol, but happy people don’t write in to complain) but it’s very hard to tell what is “normal crummy with the usual grunt work” from “toxic and exploitative, do not put up with this” when you are dealing with personal stuff on top of it all. The crummy in the psyche seeps through to the crummy in work and it adds an extra layer of crum.

    Once again, I wish there was an Alison and an AAM and letter writers when I was a career tadpole! I could have saved myself so much trouble.

    1. RC Rascal*

      I’m glad you took the job.

      For the past 20-25 years there has been an overemphasis on finding career through education, as opposed to establishing a career through skills learned on the job. I’ve been out of undergraduate for 20 years now, and my friends from those days who are the most successful are the ones who took crummy entry level jobs, worked at them, built skills, and changed employers as needed. Those who focused on specific Master’s and Phd degrees to get them into a career have not done as well.

      Off my soapbox for now.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “For the past 20-25 years there has been an overemphasis on finding career through education, as opposed to establishing a career through skills learned on the job.”

        Interesting – in my field there’s a lot of talk about the gap between employers’ needs and what university programs focus on, leading to eager graduates who aren’t prepared for the realities of the job market, but I hadn’t though about it this way before. I wonder if a contributing factor is employers’ growing reluctance to invest in employees through on-the-job training – everyone wants that worker with 20 years of experience who’s willing to accept an entry-level salary…

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I think that is a lot of it. Plus we’re seeing a generation of younger people who have never held a job in high school or college (a lot of formerly “teenager” jobs are now taken by adults or, in the case of babysitters, more trained professionals; also there are parents who say “your job is school” and can subsidize their kids) and so don’t really have any experience in the working world until they are 22/23 or so.

          Even a “crummy” low level fast food job gives some clues as to the working world, and it also establishes some kind of baseline for crummy/grunt work/high turnover. If your *first* job is the one you get after college in your 20’s you don’t have that baseline to judge by.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah. We made sure our kids both had various summer jobs including working in a factory one summer. They both realised just how privileged they were, because they borrowed my partner’s car to drive there (public transport would have meant an hour extra time travelling each way). Most of their colleagues who worked there full time had a good hour’s commute every day. It opened their eyes to the world of unskilled work and they were both determined to study their way up to something better.

  7. Elle by the sea*

    It’s really new to me that exclamation marks soften the message and have such gender-specific connotations. To be hones, I always thought using exclamation marks make you sound forceful and harsh and only use them when I want to express that I’m over-excited or mad. In my native language, they are obligatorily added after the name when you address someone (Dear Professor X!) and the comma is frowned upon. Since I’m bilingual and bicultural, I try to use the comma or the exclamation mark depending on which language I’m using, but I often mess it up. But it shouldn’t be such a big deal.

  8. AngryOwl*

    I love #1. I’m so over grammar/writing snobbery. In addition to just being annoying, it’s often classist.

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