open thread – April 30-May 1, 2021

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,311 comments… read them below }

  1. Look, Squirrel*

    How do those of you in “fuzzy” jobs come up with quantifiable achievements for your resume? Particularly interested in tech, RC, or law responses.

    My job straddles tech/compliance and involves things like “we used Squirrel’s work to win a lawsuit, because it proved that the customer ignored product warnings” but I’m not actually allowed to know information beyond “X product may or may not undergo litigation within the next three months”. Requests for more info would be shut down HARD. Everything is very opaque; I have no way to estimate the audience or reach of my work.

    1. Nekussa*

      Can you at least get at what your work meant for your colleagues? “Provided research that was used as evidence in preliminary legal proceedings” even if you don’t know the final outcome of the proceedings.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Allison has a whole post on how to show achievements when results are not quantifiable. I am in compliance law and there achievements are measured by the services you provided. So for example, “Supported multi-billion dollar bank in successful conversion of servicing platform” etc.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Unpopular opinion: I don’t.

      I tried at one point to make my résumé all accomplishments, but I didn’t get many interviews that way. I’ve found that when I simply list what I’m responsible for, I get a lot more bites, and I can always explain in an interview what I’ve actually done.

      Similarly, when I’m screening résumés, I’m actually looking for responsibilities, because that tells me a lot more than a job title what the actual previous positions entailed.

      1. LTL*

        I’ve ended up with a bit of a combo. Only listing accomplishments can make it hard to figure out what you do, but listing out some responsibilities and then some accomplishments can help. The ratio depends on your specific job and your field.

        I think competitiveness also matters. The issue with just listing responsibilities in some fields (especially for roles requiring less experience) is that if hiring managers get hundreds of the same, who do they move forward with?

      2. Just me*

        Yes! I find this works for me too. Accomplishments sound like fluff to me so I’ve just stuck with responsibilities. I’m guessing it’s because my skills aren’t easily quantifiable.

      3. Wintermute*

        There is a really hard line depending on what you do.

        Departments like IT, legal, HR, your biggest accomplishments are negatives– “we didn’t get sued,” “our email system was reliable and didn’t have outages,” “we didn’t have any security breaches,” “our contracts were not found invalid in court.”

        In jobs like that your actual “accomplishments” will be stuff that is super tangential to your job, “I reorganized some documentation”, “I trained some people”, they’re nice and all but they’re not going to make a compelling case to hire you. For jobs you’re going to be far better off listing exact responsibilities. No one is going to hire someone to administrate a multinational four-environment Llamautomation Controlsoft system if you’ve never had Llamasoft experience before, no one is going to have you in charge of compliance if your primary HR experience prior was in benefits administration and negotiation.

        For jobs like that you’re better off with any really outstanding accomplishments but focusing on exactly what you’ve been responsible over. I have a very successful resume, it’s done a lot for me, and I have a whole section at the end that lists just what systems I’ve worked in broken down by category (ticketing software, VPN, analysis/alarming, automation, etc).

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think that’s true. “Assisted in-house counsel gather, review, and organize such-and-such in preparation for litigation,” etc., etc., etc.

      4. Littorally*

        I’ve done a bit of both. I’ve included a brief line explaining functions for each job, because a couple of my jobs are not at all self-explanatory, and then leaning on a couple of achievements as well.

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      Can you quantify the amount of work produced, the accuracy of the product, or the timeliness of your work completion?

    5. Bagpuss*

      focus onthe skills.

      e.g. detailed research into complex issues, to be used within lawsuits. Requires high level of attention to detail, research skills including researching unfamiliar areas, and an ability to summarize and present complex information in a clear fashion with all supporting evidence ” (or whatever it does actually require)

    6. Ann Perkins*

      The verbs I use on my resume are ones like enforce, identify and mitigate x risk by creating y, create and conduct training regarding Z rule, etc. I don’t even try to use metrics.

      1. TardyTardis*

        True that. There should be a nice way of saying, “Refrained from executing the construction contractor who dug the foundation 100 yards off the correct location, tried to substitute a cheaper grade of fill dirt and assumed nobody on the administration crew had read the soil report when trying to charge extra for blasting, when aforementioned soil report contained the word ‘boulders'”.

        But there usually isn’t.

    7. HA2*

      You can start by thinking about responsibilities, but then for each bullet point, ask yourself – how can you tell that you did the task well instead of doing it badly? If you just say “responsible for providing info to the legal team” that doesn’t tell the interviewer that you were any good at it. The key is to find some way to say “I was responsible for this, and I did a good job of it” and accomplishments are often a way of highlighting that the work was done well.

      In the example you gave – what feedback from the legal team do you get to indicate that they like what you provided to them? What would they have done differently if the work you submitted to them sucked?

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Yeah, when I went over my SO’s resume with him, I prompted him to think of how he was different/better at this than his peers. Like, sure, this was your responsibility, but what makes you better at that than your coworker with the same responsibility? How did you stand out? That’s the accomplishment.

  2. AbigailE*

    Is it unreasonable to want an office full that only allows vaccinated people in to continue to wear masks?
    I am fully vaccinated and have been going to the office 2 days a week, there is usually nobody else here. The only other person who has been allowed regular access is my manager, he’s also been vaccinated. Unfortunately, he’s also very anti-mask and stopped wearing one to the office a few weeks after his second shot. I just do my best to keep my distance from him.

    My office is looking at reopening slowly, and the covid vaccine will be mandatory for all employees. Only those who are fully vaccinated -have received both shots and two weeks must have passed since the 2nd dose- will be allowed to enter the office starting June 1. If anyone can’t or doesn’t want the vaccine, WFH will be allowed for the rest of the year. I think most of this is reasonable.

    My company owns the building and is the only business there. I’m pretty sure my manager and even grandboss won’t be enforcing masks and distancing much if at all. I’ve been told they will require proof of our vaccination, but this still makes me worried- do I have pushback? Should I refuse to continue going in, switch to WFH?

    1. Observer*

      Given the CDC’s guidelines, you are going to have a hard time trying to enforce a mask mandate on someone who is fully vaccinated.

    2. Procrastinating at work*

      The CDC says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks around each other. Since your company is requiring proof of vaccination, I really don’t think you have any standing to ask them to require masks. The point of the vaccine is to move toward not needing masks 24/7

      1. lepercolony*

        I am pro-vax pro being safe and have worked in the office for the entire pandemic and my experience tells me it can be done safely.

        Our office never closed one day during the pandemic. The kind of work that we do cannot be done remotely. We moved the desks farther 6’+ apart and NEVER required face coverings for people working alone at their desks. We do require masks when not at your desk and face shields over masks if you MUST be within 6′ of someone for any length of time. We have had private fast testing for most of the last year. While we have had employees get COVID our contact tracing of anyone who spent time in the vicinity of a positive or suspected positive case , showed that we do not believe we had any transmission at work.

        They key was relentless attention to our protocols and a lot of work with everyone to create a culture where people who had any reason to suspect they might have COVID called in, went for company paid testing, and stayed out until cleared COVID free.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. The company can require vaccination and should but once people are vaccinated and only around people who are vaccinated no real point to masks.

      3. Chantel*

        “The CDC says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks around each other.”

        ——————

        Well – no. Quote from an AP report published Tuesday (and I’ll put the link below): “NEW YORK (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers…everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should keep wearing masks at crowded outdoor events such as concerts or sporting events, the CDC says. The agency continues to recommend masks at indoor public places, such as hair salons, restaurants, shopping centers, gyms, museums and movie theaters, saying that is still the safer course even for vaccinated people.”

        1. Heather*

          That list of indoor places are places that are open to the public though, where you can’t know the vaccination status of everyone around you. If OP’s job requires vaccinations, there really is no need for everyone to wear masks around each other. Even if one person did get sick despite being vaccinated, they are very unlikely to spread it. It’s an unreasonable expectation IMO and it’s going to be hard to convince people it would be beneficial.

        2. Nancy*

          An office of only a couple vaccinated people is not a big crowd of strangers nor a public area.

          Yes it is unreasonable, OP. You of course can continue to wear one. Your manager is not ‘anti-mask’ for not wearing one after being vaccinated while in a space of a few known vaccinated people.

    3. Ashley*

      If you have a kid or relative that can’t be vaccinated that might give you some room on the masking. NPR has a nice list of what is safe and isn’t safe. Small gatherings of under 10 and no more then 4 households of vaccinated people can be unmasked per their recommendation so that might give you room. If WFH works for you that might give you the most piece of mind at the end of the day.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      What’s your objection specifically to vaccinated people not wearing masks? Are you worried that unvaccinated people will claim they’re vax’ed so they don’t have to wear masks?

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Vaccinated people can still get COVID.

        I live with my septuagenarian, immune-suppressed parents. In theory, even though they and I are all vaccinated, I could still pick it up from another vaccinated person and bring it home, where, vaccine or not, it might well kill my mother.

        I’m keeping my masks.

        1. Delphine*

          Current evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people cannot transmit COVID. You are not likely to pick up COVID from another vaccinated person.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            That’s not what’s being reported here. We’re hearing that transmission is approximately halved by full vaccination, but not eliminated. We are being advised to continue to wear masks while the vaccination programme continues, even if we individually are fully vaccinated.

            The fact that different experts can look at the same data and reach different conclusions and/or issue different recommendations means there’s a lot of room for individuals to mistrust those recommendations.

            1. Hillary*

              In case this brings comfort: so far my home state of Minnesota is at 1,163 test-confirmed cases in 1,256,342 fully-vaccinated people, or 0.0926%. This is in spite of a 7-day positivity rate of 6.4% and testing remaining high. We’re a very conformist place when it comes to public health so I’m fairly confident it isn’t underreported.

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              There’s a reasonable basis for someone with vulnerable family (eg kids or immune suppressed) to ask for masks or to continue to wfh.

              A lot of the ‘effectiveness news’ depends on which vaccine people got. Based on ‘programme’, the General’s from the UK, which means Astra Zeneca, which was tested against the new variants. The US’s Moderna and Pfizer tests did not include new variants, Johnson & Johnson had some of them.

              My best understanding of effectiveness 2 weeks after full vaccination:

              Tested against many new variants: Astra Zeneca 56%
              Tested against some new variants: Johnson & Johnson 85%
              Not tested against new variants: Moderna, Pfizer 95%

              There’s also Russian, Chinese, and Indian vaccines with different effectiveness rates, but I don’t know what their ‘tested against variants’ status is.

              Given the new variants, and the tragedy going on in India and Brazil, we’re not through this yet. The US is only about 1/3 fully vaccinated, and demand is slowing a lot. Some people are even skipping their second shots, which cuts effectiveness in half. I’m still masking like nothing has changed, and I’m fully Pfizered.

              1. Observer*

                The US is only about 1/3 fully vaccinated, and demand is slowing a lot.

                There is some evidence that ONE of the factors playing into the reduced demand is the unduly negative messaging – NOT backed by the science! – around the effectiveness of the vaccine. For a lot of people, telling them “get vaccinated, but you won’t be able to change anything about your behavior, and you’re still a risk to granny” makes no sense. Why get the vaccine?

                What’s going on in India and Brazil IS tragic. But failure to follow the science is not going to make things any better there, regardless if the failure is being more strict or less strict than the science suggests.

            3. Chantel*

              Yeah – we just don’t know yet the full efficacy of the vaccines, for how long they are robust, whether we need boosters after 6 months, etc.

              I’m vaccinated but will wear my mask indefintely at work, in the grocery store, etc. Besides, the number of flu cases and colds dove during the last year, which helps makes the case for masks.

          2. Double A*

            It’s not impossible for vaccinated people to transmit COVID it seems, but it’s much reduced, and the viral loads that vaccinated people carry are much lower. Then, if vaccinated people do develop COVID, they almost 100% avoid serious symptoms and death.

            So the OP is concerned about a vaccinated person transmitting COVID to them (a vaccinated person), and then they would transmit it to their vaccinated parents.

            At this point in this scenario, I believe the risks are equivalent to flus and colds. Which, yes, maybe we should take more seriously in a normal year, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask everyone to wear masks when everyone is fully vaccinated, though I understand why it’s jarring to abruptly stop. Depending on how many people are in the office, it’s also against CDC guidelines because it could be considered a “medium sized gathering.”

            I struggle with this because I have a 2 year old who of course can’t be vaccinated. However, the risk to her is objectively much, much lower than from many standard childhood diseases (I know people will want to argue with me on this but… you are just wrong. Look up the hospitalization rate for RSV vs. Covid for children). And yet. I still of course don’t want her to get it, even though it really is within reasonable risk parameters for me. It’s hard.

            1. Anax*

              You mention objective risk, but I do think that part of the fear is that we just don’t know what the long-term risks look like.

              We know that it affects the brain in the medium-to-long-term, even in non-hospitalized, “minor” cases, and we know that children’s brains can have different vulnerabilities than adult brains. (I.e., children can be much more affected by lead poisoning than adults.) I have a friend who’s a FEMA scientist and deeply involved with COVID response, and that’s what she’s most concerned about right now.

              So… gosh, I recognize that the respiratory and cardiac effects may be on par with common endemic diseases, but I think that with just how much we don’t know, there’s room to be reasonably anxious.

              I’m not sure how that will affect public health in the future, but I do feel like letting people choose what level of risk they’re comfortable with in an office setting will probably at least reduce their anxiety, which is going to contribute to workplace productivity.

              It’s really hard stuff. I’m grateful that I can keep working from home in the long-term, and that at least vaccinations are reducing the risks.

              1. Double A*

                My sense is that there is a small risk of long-term effects in kids that seem lower than long-term effects of other common childhood illnesses. A lot of illnesses have the potential to create long after effects, we just don’t hear about it or study it much.

                Is it impossible that getting an asymptomatic or mild case of covid can cause long-term damage in kids? No… but I feel like if that were common, we would be seeing it now, and we’ve only been seeing rare cases.

                This all being said! Case counts are still WAY too high for me to be comfortable with just letting my kid out into crowds or something. But I do feel the risk of me being around other vaccinated people, or her being around a limited number of vaccinated adults and a few other kids, are reasonable to take considering what we do know. It’s safer than what’s been happening for the last year, which is that she’s around a limited number of UNvaccinated people (our bubble), which was as safe as we could be prior to the vaccine.

            2. tamarack and fireweed*

              The situation in this thread highlights the difficulty of making good decisions at this particular juncture, for groups of fully vaccinated people at a workplace. On the one hand, for example in the state where I live, there is a report about 152 COVID-19 cases in Feb & March 2021 in fully vaccinated people. This was a little less than 2% of all infections in the same time span. One person, who was in fragile health, died. On the other hand this is compatible with the 90…95% estimated vaccine efficiency, the vast majority of these infections was mild, viral load was lower, and also … we’re getting into the same range of risk as what we’ve been accepting as usual risk of living (getting hit by a car while walking in a city, …) .

              Obviously, if you or your parent are the one person who has a severe case of COVID after vaccination you’re likely to be feeling differently from this than what the average member of the public’s attitude will be. Just like if you’re the parent of the one child who gets seriously injured while riding a bicycle, or horse, or playing on a trampoline is bound to feel differently about these activities than most of us.

              I suggest two things: a) Not to make hard-push argument for whichever side you or I are leaning towards. But rather assemble as much good information about relevant aspects of this, lay it on the table, and carefully weigh… and let everyone shake out their own attitude. b) To be really gentle with those who need a little more time to trust that they are going to be reasonably safe.

        2. Leah K.*

          At what point are you going to get comfortable with other vaccinated people not wearing a mask?

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            For me, I’d want my kid to get vaccinated, and also for global rates to drop, and to feel more comfortable that there’s not new variants just waiting to spread. India and Brazil are tragic, and also fertile sites for new variants to develop.

            Anyone with unvaccinated or immunocompromised family members is reasonable to ask for continued masking at work (assuming extended time in shared air systems).

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            This is a good question if asked with kindness as a real question. It is a bad one as a rhetorical question.

            1. LTL*

              +1

              A mask hurts no one and has the potential to protect someone.

              I understand not wanting to wear one 24/7 in public (seeing human faces is a good thing for our psyches) but to stop wearing masks completely post-vaccination seems… optimistic. You may well get someone else sick.

              1. Observer*

                A mask hurts no one and has the potential to protect someone.

                That’s actually not true. Sure, it’s a low risk thing, and ABSOLUTELY the right call when dealing with unvaccinated groups, etc. But is actually a problem for a lot of people, especially if you are talking a full workday.

        1. The cat's pajamas*

          Also, we still don’t know definitively how long vaccinations last. We’re having similar conversations in my office, but I think the pushback there is more around people being sick of wearing masks and wanting to feel more normal and being more optimistic than being anti maskers. We also have a few colleagues with known immune deficiencies, which is irresponsible even if they are vaccinated imho. At least one wants to come back to the office.

    5. WonderMint*

      If your company is accommodating by letting those who don’t want to vaccine to continue to WFH, then I don’t see why they wouldn’t accommodate you to WFH as well.

      From CDC website:
      “You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.”

      While I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want an office where you feel safe, if public health officials say vaccinated folks can be indoors together without masks and that still makes you uncomfortable, then I think your best bet is WFH.

      To be clear, I am staunchly pro-mask. As a vaccinated person myself, I still have been avoiding indoor places! Still a little wigged out

    6. Sylvan*

      Also, how does requiring both vaccination and mask-wearing work out for employees who aren’t able to get vaccines or aren’t able to wear masks? (Not anti-vaxxers or anti-mask folks — I mean people who, for whatever medical reason, can’t do one of those things.)

      1. Autumnheart*

        Having a legitimate medical contraindication would be covered under the ADA, I should think. And it would be all the more reason to require it for people who *can* do those things, since they work directly with people who can’t.

        1. Sylvan*

          I think it’s covered under the ADA. Plus, I think everyone who can get vaccinated should do it, and everyone who can follow CDC guidance on wearing a mask should do that.

          But I’m specifically wondering how OP wants to require vaccination and mask-wearing. Or, I guess, how they’ll do interacting with coworkers who have medical contraindications that they might or might not know about.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I mean, it’s a medical exemption?

        Why do people keep asking this? Nobody is going to force someone with an allergy to the vaccine to get the vaccine. People who medically cannot are in the group that needs to be protected by the rest of us getting the vaccine and wearing masks.

        1. Sylvan*

          I’m not sure why you’re explaining this to me. Did you read my comment or the one I replied to?

      3. Natalie*

        It sounds like they’ll be allowed to WFH for the rest of the calendar year. I imagine beyond that is still to be determined.

      4. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

        I really think the people who can’t wear masks should WFH as well as those who can’t get the vaccine.

      5. Diluted Tortoishell*

        Hospital worker here. We have had to deal with this for ages as we mandate Flu vaccines. If someone is allergic to the vaccine, then the accomodation is that they must wear a mask at all times on premises during flu season. So likely once Covid numbers are under control we will see a yearly spike in cases similar to the flu and during that window non-vaccinated who can’t get their boosters or the initial run will be required to wear masks.

        There are very very very few medical conditions that preclude mask wearing.

    7. Hey*

      I don’t see the point in wearing one after getting the vaccine. Isn’t the vaccine supposed to be the pathway to get to how life was before COVID?

      1. Colette*

        Pathway, not destination. In many places, the COVID numbers are still high, and the vaccines protect more against dying from COVID than getting it – so someone who is vaccinated could potentially get sick and pass it on to someone else who hasn’t been vaccinated. (Not to mention that some people who are medically fragile can die from something a healthier person would shrug off.)

        1. Natalie*

          vaccines protect more against dying from COVID than getting it

          This is just inaccurate. The vaccine protects people from dying largely by preventing them from getting infected in the first place. That’s the main mechanism by which vaccines work.

          The initial studies measured deaths and hospitalizations partially because those are much easier to track, not because they were the only effect of the vaccine.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I understand the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to perform similarly to the influenza vaccine, and the influenza vaccine was explained to me by the doctors I see as “a 80% reduction in flu cases, and a 80% reduction in severity of flu cases that do occur.” So there’s still the (un)lucky 4% who get a serious case of the flu, but the vast majority of the population is spared the worst of it.

            The percentages on the Covid-19 vaccine aren’t the same.

            I can also see it as a safe sell strategy, as “it keeps you from getting the flu” and you’re in the 20%, credibility takes a hit. Where “it keeps you from dying from the flu” is a lower bar to clear, and the unfortunate souls who are claimed by the flu won’t suffer from losing faith in the vaccination.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              It’s actually that the 4% would just get as sick as they would without the annual vaccine, so the severe cases are much lower, under 1%. I edited that sentence one too many times…

            2. Parenthesis Dude*

              The American Covid-19 vaccines are far superior to the influenza vaccines. We’re talking 95% effective to like 40%.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Yeah, I used that in a conversation, and my convo partner explained the high % is in part due to not being tested against variants. Moderna / Pfizer started testing early, before UK / S. Africa / Brazil variants were detected. J&J included some of the variants, that’s why its effectiveness is around 85% (for catching). They’re all still 100% for ‘reducing severity and hospitalization.’

                AstraZeneca tested against multiple variants and got 56% protection for catching, but also 100% for ‘reducing severity and hospitalization.’

                My understanding is that the 56% is the right comparison to flu vaccines, for basically the same reason – variants.

                1. Observer*

                  my convo partner explained the high % is in part due to not being tested against variants. Moderna / Pfizer started testing early, before UK / S. Africa / Brazil variants were detected. J&J included some of the variants, that’s why its effectiveness is around 85% (for catching).

                  That’s actually only partially true. Keep in mind that a lot of the CURRENT effectiveness numbers is being based on what’s been going on in the wild. We have hundreds of millions of people who are fully vaccinated all over the world. Now, some of the data is going to be questionable – I’m not going to trust what the Chinese have to say about their vaccines. But, even if you knock that out, there is just tons of data including about the new variants.

            3. Natalie*

              Flu vaccine is a bit different because it’s reformulated 2x a year based on the strains expected to be circulating the most. It’s extremely effective against those chosen strains, and less effective against others.

          2. Colette*

            Everyone in my family had measles as a child, even though we were all innoculated against it.

            Vaccines are not 100% effective.

            1. Calliope*

              Yes but the percentages aren’t unknowable and we know these are effective vaccines. It’s not reasonable to say that any risk will ever get down to zero.

              1. Colette*

                Absolutely, these are effective! But when the case count is high, the rare cases of vaccinated people getting sick will also be high – because “rare” is a function of case count. If everyone is vaccinated and 0.001% of people are sick with the virus, the chances of getting sick are very low. If 10% of people are sick with the virus, the chances are much higher.

                1. Calliope*

                  Yes but in this case we’re talking about two fully vaccinated people in an office,
                  not a crowded club. That’s not a large risk of transmission. It’s calculable. And 10% of the population isn’t sick.

            2. Natalie*

              I didn’t say it was 100% effective, I said it’s effectiveness against death and hospitalization primarily comes from being effective against infection in the first place. Read for comprehension.

      2. LTL*

        Absolutely but these things happen in steps. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to doing post-vaccination which I’ve been holding off on, but I won’t be doing everything like it’s 2019.

        We haven’t reached herd immunity yet and we’re not 100% sure what’s going to happen with variants, especially considering the vaccine shortages in the global south.

      3. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

        Like others have said, it’s a pathway, not the destination. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be comfortable not wearing a mask in public again. I’ve found that my response to allergies is better as well as not getting massive headaches due to people deciding to bathe in perfume / cologne. I will feel a lot better when we’re also able to vaccinate kids but we can’t yet.

        1. Observer*

          I don’t know if I’m ever going to be comfortable not wearing a mask in public again.

          Which is fine. But you can’t expect people to live to your comfort. There are real costs to each of these choices, and it’s simply not reasonable to impose your choices on others.

          And you REALLY cannot complain when people don’t “follow the science” when you (general you) don’t either follow the science. And insisting on masks when the science says that they don’t really help is just as unscientific as insisting on not wearing masks when the science says to wear them.

            1. Observer*

              Well, masks actually cost money. They also happen to be uncomfortable. And they DO make it somewhat harder to breath. For most people it’s not enough to the outweigh the benefit when you are in a situation where there is a high risk of catching something airborne otherwise. But that’s a relative risk.

              Aside from that, another major cost to demanding masks when the science does not support that is that you diminish both the credibility of the science backed guidelines and the motivation to actually get the vaccine.

            2. Jessica*

              I’m pro-masks in general, but one “cost” is that they make life much more difficult and exclusionary for d/Deaf and hard of hearing people who usually rely on lip reading.
              (And sure, better to be left out of some conversations and remain COVID-free versus being on a ventilator. But you were asking about downsides to long-term, universal mask-wearing, and excluding d/Deaf and HoH people is one.)

            3. Rebecca Stewart*

              I have problems with acne in the mask area, and while that’s not enough to make me unwilling to mask properly, it does make me look forward to reducing my mask usage as soon as I can.

            4. Pennyworth*

              There is an environmental cost related to the billions of discarded disposable masks.

          1. Heather*

            Hear, hear! This forum in general is very “follow the science!” until the science doesn’t agree with their overly cautious approach. Then it’s suddenly “it’s not zero risk”…

    8. ginger ale for all*

      Ugh. I am sorry you are in this situation. I think some people think once they have the shot, they can’t get covid when it really means that they will have a milder case of it but most likely won’t die. I say most likely because on the morning news today, they had a death in Dallas of someone who had been vaccinated. They didn’t have any other details so it will be a story to monitor for further developments.

      1. Observer*

        , they can’t get covid when it really means that they will have a milder case of it but most likely won’t die.

        That’s actually not accurate. We know that that aside from reducing severity, the vaccines drastically reduce spread. It wasn’t clear from the original Phase 3 trials because that was not what they were primarily looking at, but as soon as they started rolling it out, this became a major focus.

        1. ....*

          Yes! I would strongly encourage people to look at the data from Israel. It drastically reduces spread. No, nothing in life is 100% but it’s greatly reduced

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      Fully vaccinated? Not unreasonable.

      Fully vaccinated and everyone still has to wear a mask all day? I’d say that’s not as reasonable.

      1. Chantel*

        There are unknowns regarding the vaccines. That’s why the infectious disease experts at the CDC still recommended mask-wearing in large gatherings and in smaller public venues, even for those who are vaccinated.

        I’m not sure why that is so difficult to grasp.

        1. Observer*

          Not when everyone is known to be vaccinated. I don’t know why that’s so difficult to grasp.

          1. Kotow*

            And beyond the medical/scientific reasons for saying “keep wearing a mask in crowded locations,” there’s a social reason as well. People are much more likely to take off masks when they see others doing it and getting away with it. It happens all the time.

            While I appreciate that individuals may wish to continue taking a more cautious approach for their own reasons, continuing to require that level of caution does little to encourage vaccination. For many people, “get back to normal” means “no longer wearing a mask.” They’re going to the grocery store and the hair salon much more frequently than they’re going to crowded sporting events or getting on a plane. Not having to wear a mask is their mark of “normality.” If they’re told they still have to wear one, how does that overcome vaccine hesitancy? I made my decision months ago about whether I would get vaccinated but if I were truly on the fence about it, being told to wear a mask for the foreseeable future even around others who are fully vaccinated or at low risk would be enough to make me not get it at all.

    10. Magc*

      Vaccination isn’t 100% effective, the US (and other countries) won’t reach herd immunity via vaccination soon (if ever), and herd immunity only keeps outbreaks from starting. In order to STOP an ongoing pandemic, you still need masks, social distancing, indoor air filtration / ventilation, &c. even after enough people are vaccinated to reach herd immunity. AFAIK, there’s no data yet on whether or not fully vaccinated people who still get sick with covid-19 are protected from long covid.

      If I had a choice between WFH or going into an office where only fully vaccinated people were allowed and mask-wearing was not required? WFH, hands down.

      1. Flance*

        I don’t know, this seems a bit excessive to me. Actual herd immunity and you still would want everyone to have masks and distance, what, forever? This situation seems as safe as we can get… I think if she’s worried about variants then sure, wear your own n95 for now. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to mandate masks for everyone if they’re truly vaccinated

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Isn’t the point of the heard immunity is that we DON’T have to do this? Or are we waiting for zero new cases? Because that will not happen any time soon, and by soon, I mean years.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Actual herd immunity and you still would want everyone to have masks and distance, what, forever? This situation seems as safe as we can get…

          There are places where masks were not uncommon before the pandemic.

          Beyond that, I do think there are benefits to some of the distancing remaining. I found a lot of restaurants and bars claustrophobic at pre-pandemic densities, and I personally prefer carry-out and remote work.

          1. Calliope*

            That’s a fair preference but not one that should be imposed on everyone else. I’m not into crowded bars either so I just don’t go.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Right, so compromise between freedom and life; let the bars rebound to 60-75% of their original density.

              1. LTL*

                So I agree that we should roll back restrictions slowly and not all at once but to keep up the limited capacity permanently is unreasonable.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  Yes, I don’t think it’s reasonable either.
                  Beyond the fire code, once we are not officially in pandemic, I don’t think you can and should restrict the capacity level.
                  You don’t have to go to the super packed places. I myself prefer not to, not anymore.
                  But it’s unreasonable to restrict capacity based on your personal preference.

                2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Beyond the fire code, once we are not officially in pandemic, I don’t think you can and should restrict the capacity level.

                  This won’t be the final pandemic–hopefully. So wouldn’t we collectively be better off going into the next pandemic used to 75% density levels instead of 125%? In the meantime, it’s not like Covid-19 is the only communicable disease out there.

                3. RussianInTexas*

                  Yes, it is unreasonable.
                  The capacity is 100%, not 125%.
                  I feel like 100% is a good compromise here. For a non-pandemic life.

              2. Natalie*

                I mean, I like the reduced capacity since I don’t like crowds either, but why on earth would you expect capacity to be reduced permanently?

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          While my personal judgement agrees with yours, Flance, I really do not think that we should be putting forward strong persuasive arguments in this sense. In particular, it is IMHO not at all “unreasonable” to be super-conservative about increasing risk levels in the middle of a still-raging pandemic, as someone in one of the most privileged bubbles inside which the tide seems to be turning.

          As a scientist, I’m getting a little queasy with people writing “The Science Says X” on a banner and storming off into a direction – even if it is the RIGHT direction – without taking along those who hesitate. None of us should point fingers or doubt the reasonableness of those who are more risk-averse. (And frankly, we might very well see the time when post-vaccine immunity wears off and the over-confident among us will suffer. I fully expect to be getting another booster in a year.)

          Looking at the CDC and other public health guidance is good. Looking at the reports that are coming out is good. And I sure hope that mask-wearing in public will become a long-term fixture when it can be helpful.

          In my case, when I worked in the office for one day recently and found I had a new office-mate (two-person office in our hallway) we both were comfortable a) staying and b) being maskless, with both of us being fully vaccinated, and given that my partner is as well, we have no other regular contact, and are both healthy. That’s how my experience is angled, and I find it more useful to consider such first-person stories rather than pushy arguments.

          1. Chantel*

            As a scientist, though, certainly you’re aware that what you describe is anecdotal and thus not generalizable; and therefore unreliable as a means of moving forward. I mean, such stories are interesting, but I’ll take a reproducible experiment any day over a personal narrative if I want reliable info.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              Ummmmm… that was my *intention*. I think that personal anecdotes, that is, putting what we’re collectively experiencing into stories, are *a lot* more appropriate to help our fellow humans decide than taking on the mantle of science. *Because* I’m a scientist I will restrict speaking as a scientist to when it is appropriate. Not here.

      2. Magc*

        Herd immunity means enough people are vaccinated* that a NEW pandemic won’t break out. Once herd immunity has been reached AND the pandemic has ended**, mitigating measures can be safely stopped.

        https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/relationship-between-vaccines-and-herd-immunity

        * The percentage of the population needing to be vaccinated depends on how contagious the disease is and (I assume) what the breakthrough infection rate is. There’s not enough data on covid-19 to determine the percentage for herd immunity.
        ** I’m not an epidemiologist, but I assume there are metrics for what constitutes a pandemic and therefore at some point infections will be localized / low enough that it won’t be considered a pandemic anymore.

    11. Smithy*

      I do think that this will largely be about personal comfort, but unless there are other staff that strongly prefer to maintain wearing masks – I think it will be tough to push for that given the other dynamics. Particularly as you’ve already seen the company have a low desire to heavily monitor/police behavior.

      What I think you can do is to either return to WFH or invest in KN95 or other more extensive masks that provide additional protections.

    12. AnonForThis*

      I work in a hospital that has reached herd immunity (80% vaccinated), but we have not updated our mask protocols yet, inside or outside of patient areas. I expect our leadership will issue a statement but we consistently err on the side of caution and infection prevention, so I do not see us dropping the requirement even in administrative office spaces.

      I work in an administrative role, and have been WFH. My direct manager is anti-vaxx, as is one other person in my small division. Our department has outgrown our space and had run out of desks before the pandemic (and they are definitely not spaced out), and it’s even worse now with how much our department has grown. Plus our ventilation is awful and regularly belched foul odors, so we can’t rely on it being helpful at all. So we’re not back yet. From a survey, our department was 80+% against returning now until the desk situation is worked out.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I doubt you can convince the PTB of a need to change an obviously well-thought-out, very cautious and scientifically-guided policy that follows current public health guidance, and has already been announced.

      If you feel that your personal/household risks are too high to go in, then ask to continue WFH. I doubt you’ll get any objections to that in a company that’s being this careful.

    14. ....*

      I personally don’t think they should be required if someone is fully vaccinated. Also based on cdc guidance that those fully vaccinated can safely gather indoors without masks I don’t think you could rely on outside guidelines. If everyone is vaccinated it would be in keeping with guidance to allow people to not wear a mask.

    15. Calliope*

      Honestly, I think it’s unreasonable. If you had a big group and weren’t sure if everyone’s vaccination status, that’s different. But that’s not the situation.

      I think folks need to start trying to calibrate risks. Is it absolutely 100% possible that you’ll get a severe case of Covid while vaccinated? No. But unless you’re very severely immunocompromised (e.g. currently undergoing chemo or on organ transplant drugs), it’s extremely unlikely based on what we know now. It appears that unvaccinated young people are driving transmission right now, not vaccinated people. Stay on top of the news, but workplaces don’t need to be driven by extraordinary worst case scenarios that are vanishingly unlikely.

    16. Parenthesis Dude*

      Frankly, I’d tell you that asking for everyone to continue wearing masks even though they’re vaccinated is unreasonable.

      But I don’t think you should care about whether it’s reasonable. The question is whether or not you think you can convince others to support your point of view. Do you have enough power to convince your grandboss and others to wear a mask?Or can you convince others to make the same request? Ultimately, the reasonableness of your request is irrelevant, only how your co-workers feel. Talk to them and see whether they’ll agree with you. Otherwise WFH.

    17. Save the Hellbender*

      Abigail, I totally get how you feel. After 14 months of fearing every human interaction, I can’t seem to shake the feeling of unease around human interaction, even though I’m fully vaccinated and everyone I’m interacting with is too. But your company will probably operate based on statistics, not this feeling, and the risk of one vaccinated person giving it to another is vanishingly small. Covid is going to be around forever, probably, so I think your company is right that two vaxxed people is about as safe as we’ll get (I know the risk of breakthrough is higher when community transmission is high. But I don’t think your company letting him not wear a mask is unreasonable.)

    18. Wintermute*

      Honestly, I think it’s important to trust in this case. All along the mantra has been “trust the science, follow the science,” but a lot of people, no fault of their own it’s very tempting! I’m not making any judgement at all, I want you to know. But a lot of people want to freeze things at the most restrictive level out of anxiety, despite evidence of low surface transmision they’re still spraying their groceries in lysol and leaving them half an hour before they bring them in, etc.

      The science says that if you’re fully vaccinated and have waited the requisite time, you should be perfectly safe, and a mask would do little to increase your safety. I understand that because they’ve become politicized a lot of people are anxious about dropping their masks because they’ve become a “moral signifier” of sorts and that is valid (I still wear one in public even when not strictly required, because at this point it DOES say “I am safe, I am not being cavalier with your safety). But in a workplace environment, I think you have to trust the CDC.

    19. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

      I would switch to working from home since you’ll be allowed to for the rest of the year. I also wouldn’t be comfortable around people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance, even if we’re both fully vaccinated. It’s not at all unreasonable to expect your colleagues to continue to wear masks and social distance.

      The pandemic has been traumatic and a lot of us still have anxiety about it, even though more and more people are fully vaccinated. Another thing to keep in mind is that there have been breakthrough cases among those who are fully vaccinated. And there are variants out there. While it may be rare to get Covid if you’re fully vaccinated, I think it’s understandable and responsible to still be careful. If your boss or anyone else at your office refuse to be careful, I think it would be a good idea to continue to work from home.

  3. Brexit*

    Anyone else have a Brexit-induced work headache? I manage a document library of thousands of items, all of which now need to be revised solely to add a UKCA marking. * head desk *

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yup! I work in a highly regulated industry and our products go around the world. We already meet 10+ different standards (which admittedly have a lot of overlap), and now we have to add one more. It’s not the biggest headache to deal with and the company has hired people to work on it. But it’s a bit of a pain for everyone.

    2. Fitz*

      Ahahaha… yes, I will never forget that they had literal years to draft something and published their guidance… December 2020. Commiseration on the marking side as well. Plodding is the common denominator here.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Tech Pubs solidarity here.
      Especially frustrating because we have done revisions in the last year for so many of those items.

    4. Bob Howard*

      Yes, its hard to get items to European manufacturers for annual calibration. The items are for a very niche application & patented, so nobody else makes them. Calibration is due every 12 months, but we now have to allow an extra month each way just for shipping & customs. Everything used to be so easy.

      I share an office with people who voted for this headache.

    5. A*

      Oh ya. Managing a global supply chain right now is SUPER FUN *cries*. Between the 301 Trump Tariffs and Brexit…. I’m starting to lose it!

    6. E*

      Yup. I work for a university, and fees for EU students were only confirmed AFTER a lot of students had submitted undergrad applications. We’re now getting some fairly horrified emails from offer holders who for some reason hadn’t expected to go on to international fee status.

    7. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      Tech Pubs solidarity from here, too. Our company split and everything had to be rebranded.
      I agree an intern would be nice for this sort of thing.

  4. Mobius 1*

    In online applications, when there’s a question about “Years of computer experience” and I grew up with a computer in my room, how many years am I supposed to put? 10? 15? 20? Ditto to other questions naming specific software I grew up using (Office, Word, Excel etc).

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I would say generally “years of computer experience” means “years of professional computer experience.” I know that line is often blurred for people in tech who grew up using computers, who may be self-taught to a large extent, or who have extensive experience with technology in a non-work capacity. I’m sure there are other more tech-savvy people who can comment more specifically, but I would say that if the experience/knowledge rises to the level of what you would use or know in a professional environment, then you can include it, within reason. Be mindful of how it might look to claim too many years of experience. You may not want it to look as if you’re claiming to have used X software professionally since you were 9 years old.

      1. Mobius 1*

        That’s very sensible. Do you suppose I should count use in college as “professional”?

        1. lost academic*

          See my note below – depends on the application but I wouldn’t count the entire time because it’s not the same as doing so professionally (for measurable hours every day). What kind of job is this?

          1. Colette*

            I agree professional doesn’t mean college in general, but I think that in this case, I’d count it if you don’t have extensive work experience with the tools.

        2. Autumnheart*

          College does not count as professional experience.

          If, let’s say, you’re a designer (like I am) or a programmer, and you have a portfolio of professional-quality projects that you have created over the years, then you CAN use that–because fields like those usually ask you to demonstrate your level of skill in a given platform anyway.

          But typically, when I count years of experience, I start counting from my first paid design job. Not from when I designed my first website while I was still learning.

      2. Diluted Tortoishell*

        Usually if they are getting this gritty they actually want all experience. I wouldn’t assume it’s just professional. I know for Goverment jobs they wanted the names of my elementary and high schools as well as every job I ever had – even that summer mucking horse stalls.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          But that’s more for proof that you are who you say you are, and has very little to do with the work experience.

    2. lost academic*

      I think they usually mean active, purposeful use for the specific applications, but it’s role dependent and it’s not that useful a question. If you can put something like 10+ or 5+, I’d do that if it’s something where just general use is as far as it needs to go.

      (I hire for positions that need real Excel experience that goes beyond knowing how to make a chart and calculate an average, but that’s about the level that the average college student tends to have and if they’ve never been asked to do more with it, they don’t know what they don’t know.)

    3. Colette*

      I’d say it depends on what you were using it for and how often. Opening word to type one essay a year for 12 years? You’re not going to be able to do much. Using it daily to make forms, create posters, create tables of contents, etc. is a different level of use. So I’d count years where you used it fairly regularly and did something other than the very basics.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I know this isn’t what you’re asking, but honestly why would anyone ask this question? I work in tech with computers, and I would never ask an applicant how many “years of computer experience” they have. The answer would be completely useless to me in evaluating their competency.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Have they not changed their application since 1995?

        1. Anax*

          Yep. It wouldn’t even screen out the few truly technically illiterate coworkers I’ve had, since they *did* use a computer for some things, even if they printed out everything they had to read and I had to explain what an F5 key was. They don’t know what they don’t know.

      2. Smithy*

        I’m curious about this one as well. For my sector, where using software like PowerPoint or Excel professionally is expected – but not at a particularly sophisticated level – I’ve taken to recommending not including it at all. Like, if a project that would benefit from a really slick slide show or complicated data collection, I’d ask about getting the relevant design/data support.

        I’m an old millennial who’s had email for the entirety of my professional life – however, recently had a job that didn’t use Microsoft Office but rather Google. It was never mentioned during the interview process and the heavy expectation was that I could figure out the new system and if I was confused, could make due with publically available tutorials.

        As someone without a tech specific job, but has gone through a number of transitions professionally from database one to data base two – I both understand how much of a pain point it can be, but also how very expected.

      3. Wintermute*

        Exactly! I mean, there’s a huge range, I would legitimately put down 25 years, even before I was in highschool I was helping configure modems using hyperterminal and programming in multiple languages, I knew kids that did some pretty sophisticated HTML in forum tags, would they count? People who were into high-end gaming were messing with things like CPU interrupts, hardware driver overrides and the kind of networking configuration that would now be considered intermediate-level network engineer stuff. How does that stack up to someone that was just spending hours a day writing and editing in a word processor? How does that stack up against someone who was administrating a website?

      4. Pennyworth*

        Any question about computer skills needs to be targeted towards what skills they want. Otherwise they are just asking how old you are – a 45 year old will have more computer use years than a 35 year old, but might have less relevant computer experience.

    5. Red Panda*

      I struggle with the same question! Especially when the question is about something pretty mainstream like Word, email, or web browsers. I really do feel like most of my skills with that software were built before I entered the professional world (I am in my early twenties). If I said that I have 2 years experience with email, that would be underselling my skills, I think. But others in this thread have pointed out that school is not professional experience.

    6. Snark No More!*

      Ah, but how well are you using it? For instance, Word has Styles, do you use those or do you just keep tabbing for indents? Excel and Word have formula functions, do you use those? I have many people who grew up using Word and Still.Use.Spaces to line up text. So, power user?

    7. Analyst Editor*

      I think if you have meaningful experience from before then, you can put it and probably highlight in cover letters (if applicable). I think if you fixed everyone’s computers and knew your way around the computer at 12, were proficient in a programming language and doing stuff with it, had a meaningful computer-related business at that age.
      To me, asking for “years of experience with MS word” is like asking for “years of experience with writing” – it’s a tool almost everyone uses to some extent, so you just answer whatever; nobody’s going to seriously scrutinize that question. If it’s an outdated government form, they need it to check a box.
      For things like Excel, if you used it in a very basic way, like for a bio lab where the steps were laid out to you in painstaking detail, or a semester-long “computer class” which culminated in making a simple plot, I would not claim those years. If you are proficient and comfortable with Excel formulas and using it for something meaningful, count from then.
      When in doubt, I would start counting no earlier than when you’re 18, maybe 16, and go that way. Anyway most of these questions are drop-downs with choices like “0, 1, 2, 3+” so it might be a moot point. The difference between 10 and 20 years of experience with Excel is kind of negligible anyway.

  5. HelloStranger*

    Any neurodivergents on here who struggle with schedule change? My workplace is planning return to work mid-summer and the impending new schedules and new rules is starting to stress me out. Trying to figure out how make the transition back as smooth as possible.

    1. Mobius 1*

      Commenting to follow this chain, as I am a fellow alphabet soup connoisseur who is currently out of work altogether and is quite gun-shy at the prospect of returning to an office in general.

    2. Web Crawler*

      Yes (though this hasn’t been a work problem for me). My partner and I came up with some rules to make it easier:

      1. Tell me as soon as plans are planned

      2. Tell me how solid these plans are. I’d rather hear “this thing might happen, might not” and then plans change, instead of hearing “this thing will happen” and it not happening

      3. Give me a sense of my options. What can I do to make this easier on me? Or is this just a heads up, and I can’t do anything except brace myself? Am I allowed to make changes in your plan to make this easier?

      4. Accept that sometimes I’ll be quieter or more sensitive when I’m dealing with changes. (This does not excuse blowing up or other bad behavior. I’m just talking about giving me a little extra room to not act perfectly neurotypical for a bit.)

      1. Web Crawler*

        Oh. I’m sorry, I misread your question- I thought you were a person in charge of the schedules trying to make it easier for ND folks. I have a different list then:

        1. Giving myself some extra attention- checking in on how I’m doing more frequently than usual

        2. Scheduling in a few extra “bathroom breaks” where I can go somewhere alone and drop my emotional mask for a few minutes. Mine include music and sunlight when possible

        3. Giving myself more decompressing time after work

        4. If I can, asking people for help with my non-work responsibilities for a bit. My partner can usually pick up one of my chores, and I’m partially responsible for a few groups where I can ask other mods to cover for me

        1. Anax*

          I concur with this! I’d also say – give yourself at least an extra hour to sleep if you can. My brain does a lot of its planning and processing while I’m stimming on something non-cognitive (videogames, knitting), or when I’m asleep, and schedule changes or planning always mean I need more sleep.

      2. Anax*

        For any managerial types (though not OP) who might see this – this also applies to sudden to-do list changes, ad hoc meetings, and the like. I plan out “what my day will look like” as I come on shift, and any sudden changes will take up spoons and make it harder to concentrate. It’s not always possible – sometimes, of course, there are true emergencies! – but if I can have at least 24 hours notice before meetings or switching gears onto a new project, it really helps.

    3. JillianNicola*

      Yes, me! I work in an office now where I can by and large set my own hours (which comes with a different set of challenges), but previously I spent 20 years in retail which HOO BOY that was a struggle, especially since I didn’t really realize I was ND until a few years ago.
      Some of things that helped me during retail: putting the schedule for the two week into my calendar on my computer, and purposefully only focusing on what my schedule would be like for that time period (if your schedule won’t constantly change, putting the new schedule into a calendar at least for a bit might still help? Something about seeing the start and end times on the specific date in black and white helped anchor me), taking breaks at the same intervals every shift to keep a kind of routine, and keeping a pretty strict routine at home depending on what time of day I was home (meals at the same time, and so on).
      For my office job, the fact I can set my own hours is great and freeing on the surface, but can also induce a lot of anxiety. So I try to come in and leave at the same time every day, again take breaks at the same time for routine, and try to remember to give myself a little grace if my start/end times vary, since no one here cares except me lol. Every ND person is different of course but maybe some of this will help!

      1. Anonodon for this*

        I’m lucky in that my workplace is not forcing us to go back immediately and giving us a hybrid option. I’m thinking of aiming for 3 days a week in person, but just starting with 1 day a week to get me used to the routine again, remembering to bring a lunch, etc.

      2. HelloStranger*

        Oh I like the idea of just figuring out what your two weeks are going to be like! We’re doing a slow transition in and fingers crossed I hope to settle into a hybrid work arrangement, but a work week that doesn’t look the same every single week is a little daunting. My ideal world would be setting up a WFH standard day and a WFO standard day that parallel each other aside from more sleep on non-commute days.

    4. Generic Name*

      Can you practice your new schedule at home? Maybe even get used to wearing “real” clothes again if you’ve been living in sweats and slippers for the past year? If you normally bring your lunch to work, you can do that too while at home. It’s taken me a lot more planning to brown bag than when I was working from home and could just cook whatever.

      1. HelloStranger*

        Hah, I really need to get going on buying new work clothes again. Luckily my lunch and snack routine have stayed pretty similar to my pre-WFH time, but I like the idea of prepping to pack it in one meal serving sizes. I also have the additional problem of a new pet who I generally only leave for a max of four hours, so I’ll need to alter my schedule along with prepping her for my ten hours away during the day.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Unfortunately for many of us neurodivergent folks, “make yourself practice good habits with no external accountability” is akin to “make yourself run faster than a speeding bullet.”
        But if you can swing it with an accountability buddy (and avoid crossing the line into asking said buddy to basically parent you) it’s worth a shot. It could easily all go out the window when the environment changes though.

        1. Generic Name*

          Good point. My son is neurodivergent, so this is what we do at home. Of course I am the external accountability.

        2. Bees-in-my-head*

          I’m part of an amazing ADHD Facebook community in my specific field, and we have recently begun using Facebook rooms for accountability and body-doubling. If you can find something similar and start doing it maybe at the beginning and end of your day (or whenever you usually flag) that may help. Previous to this I found that if I schedule early morning meetings, it forces me to get into “work mode” on a more regular 8-5 schedule. Of course, that means my coworkers suffer, so I try to limit that to when absolutely necessary.

    5. RagingADHD*

      1) Make a written plan for transitioning. Include estimated arrival time, commute time, estimated getting-dressed-and-ready time, breakfast time, if applicable, etc.

      2) Add a 10 to 15 percent buffer onto each of those time estimates. Now you have your goal wakeup time.

      3) If necessary, start shifting your sleep schedule to get you to the goal. Try not to shift more than 15 minutes per day. Write out the shift plan.

      4) If you don’t already have a “launch pad”by the door for things you need to take with you, make one. Start getting in the routine of checking it/tidying it every night, even though you aren’t packing stuff yet.

      As soon as you get to your goal wakeup time, start walking through a realistic getting-ready process in the morning, and luxuriate in all the extra time you have.

      1. HelloStranger*

        I love schedules so making a mock up schedule to figure out my new wake time sounds great! And yep, I tried to have a prep area when I went work in person.

    6. Solitary squirrel*

      Yes, sigh. I have been through several different protocols for office opening hours since I returned to work and I struggle with remembering what the rules are this week. I have an “Everything I need to know” document and keep them updated in there.
      I also struggle with getting organised to get in on time but that has been lifelong. I try to get everything ready the night before.

  6. General Chaos Manager*

    Today, my boss was discussing a co-worker’s vacation time, and the situation gave me bad vibes. This employee is salaried exempt, has been with the company for 20+ years, and under our vacation policy has earned 15 days of vacation. Last year with the pandemic and other personal factors they reduced their hours by 20% with a corresponding reduction in pay. When discussing their vacation accrual today, my boss informed them that under the reduction they would only earn 12 days of vacation a year, and be paid that vacation at their reduced salary.

    I had the conversation with my boss that I think they’re hitting her twice for the reduction, but I didn’t have the spoons or the capital to really push the issue. My company is notorious for nickel and diming any employee that isn’t senior management, so I wanted to get some outside perspective on this.

    1. Venus*

      Typically workplaces with part-time employees give them reduced vacation hours, so for example if they work 3 days a week instead of 5 then they get 60% of the vacation. But! The reason that this works out is because they work fewer hours each week. So if I work 8 hours a day and get two weeks of vacation, then I get 8 x 5 x 2 = 80 hours of vacation per year. If I work part-time then I get only 8 x 3 x 2 = 48 hours. But with those 48 hours, they are still equivalent to two weeks’ vacation because I only work 24 hours each week.

      In a context like this where an employee is working reduced hours because of the pandemic and then returns to regular hours it does seem a bit stingy.

      1. WellRed*

        We reduced the hours of a few employees and their vacay was reduced accordingly. It’s an insult on top of an insult but it’s normal. I know this outside your question, etc. but your employer’s vacation package is not great. 20+ years and only 15 days.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Exactly. That’s what people at my company get who’ve been there 3 years (I also get 15 days because I negotiated five extra days upon accepting my job offer nearly two years ago).

          1. Sammie*

            I’ve been aware for a while that US vacation is low but exchanges like this really remind me just how little vacation there is.

            I get 28 days a year. And that’s the legal MINIMUM for full time work, regardless of years of experience.

        2. twocents*

          People at my company START with 18 days PTO. On top of 12 paid holidays and 2 paid volunteer days. Bananas the scrapings that other companies get away with.

    2. Waiting on the bus*

      Where does the difference from? Because any vacation days she had prior to the reduction are vacation days she has earned during the last 20+ years. If they take them away from her now because they reduced her hours, that would be a very shitty thing to do. She earned those days working full-time, after all.
      (IANAL, so I don’t know if it’s legal though I fear it probably is, but it’s a bad move from the company and your boss.)

      1. General Chaos Manager*

        If AAM has taught me anything the answer is usually it’s legal but a bad move.

    3. Aly_b*

      This would be pretty normal outside of pandemic times – if you’ve got someone who doesn’t work fridays, for example, they’d need fewer days of vacation to take a full week, and are accruing hours at a lower rate. If instead that person is just working 6 hours a day, their accrued time off should be in hours, not days, and again they should still end up being able to take the same number of weeks off during the year.

      During pandemic times though, especially if this person is going to end up back on a full schedule by the time they’re trying to actually take the time, I would definitely be inclined not to reduce the accrual, because it’s the right thing to do an is a relatively small thing that would keep staff happy.

    4. Troutwaxer*

      I think it depends on how vacation time is earned. If you’re in a situation where “X hours of work results in Y hours of vacation time” then your boss is probably doing it right. On the other hand, if vacation time relates to the amount of time spent working for the business, that is, “X years with the business results in Y days of vacation time” then your boss is doing it wrong. So I think you can probably approach your boss (or not) on that basis, but it depends on the specifics of how vacation is allotted at your particular workplace.

      1. Fran Fine*

        If you’re in a situation where “X hours of work results in Y hours of vacation time” then your boss is probably doing it right. On the other hand, if vacation time relates to the amount of time spent working for the business, that is, “X years with the business results in Y days of vacation time” then your boss is doing it wrong.

        I would think for salaried exempt workers, it would be the latter accrual option, but I could be wrong. Every place I’ve worked where I’ve been salaried exempt, my vacation accrual was based on years served, not hours worked (since as an exempt employee, I’d end up working more than 40 hours at some point, which would mean I’d accrue more vacation time as a result – I’m sure they wouldn’t want that).

    5. lost academic*

      They’re not hitting her twice for the reduction, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. It’s a pretty standard way to handle leave time. Our company made everyone go to 80% for about half a year and slowly brought staff back up as possible, but deliberately did not decrease leave time accrual during that period, though made it clear that depending on the duration and then based on specific employee scheduling they may do so in the future.

    6. Colette*

      That seems pretty normal to me – she gets 1 day for every x days she works, and she’s working 20% less hours. And she now needs 20% less time off to take the same number of calendar days. (This is more normal for people who knowingly accept part-time hours.)

      1. Mr. Shark*

        We had a few weekly furloughs through last summer (US), so we could actually get paid unemployment during those weeks.
        However, our medical and vacation accrual continued through those furloughs, so even though I worked about a month less overall with no pay, I still got my same amount of vacation that I would normally get based on the years in service.

    7. Schrodinger's cat*

      I am not really sure, but it sounds like they might be dinged twice. Is their take home the same when they take a week of vacation rather than a week of work?

      I am an exempt state employee so not the same situation, but when I went to half time my hourly pay did not change, just how much I was paid because I was working fewer hours. I also accrued fewer hours of sick and annual, but when I took it the pay rate was the same. Example: instead of accruing two weeks of vacation per year (80 hours), I’d get one week (40 hours). If I took a week of vacation, get paid for 20 hours vacation (since I would normally work 20 hours a week); thus the reduced pay is the same.

    8. SomebodyElse*

      Maybe I’m missing something, and it would be something you would need to check into your PTO policy, but it would seem common to me that companies would prorate for less than full time employees if they even offer it to less than full time employees.

      I’m not really sure that adjusting pay and PTO for less hours = nickel and diming. In other words, this appears to be a perfectly normal way to handle an employee not working full time.

      1. The Cat's Pajamas*

        Maybe I misread this, but I thought it was vaca earned before the reduction. So, if you had 15 days but didn’t use them, then used them at new salary, three would just vanish and you’d get less pay to boot for the other 12. If that’s the case, this is really crappy. If it’s just for new earned time going forward it is less crappy.

    9. londonedit*

      Commenting from the UK, but this is completely normal. Holiday entitlement is pro-rated based on the hours you work. So a part-time employee working 17.5 hours a week will have half the number of days’ holiday per year than a full-time employee working 35 hours a week. Also, for all employees, when you join a new company your holiday entitlement will be pro-rated depending on when you join. So your annual entitlement may be (say, as a fairly normal example) 20 days per year, but the number of days you get in your first year with the company will be pro-rated, so if say the holiday year runs 1 January to 31 December, and you join the company on 1 July, you’ll have 10 days’ holiday to use before the end of the year.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed. Leave tends to be quoted in weeks here for this reason, and your entitlement is based on an average week. People with very irregular hours get theirs calculated as an amount of leave per hour worked (it’s about 7 minutes per hour worked IIRC).

        So say you get six weeks’ annual leave.

        Janice works 35 hours per week. She gets 210 hours of annual leave. She takes a fortnight once, a week twice, and some odd days for long weekends with her partner.

        Fergus works 20 hours per week. He gets 120 hours of annual leave. He takes a fortnight once, a week twice, and some odd days for city breaks with his partner.

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      What you describe seems appropriately proportional- those vacation days go toward a reduced schedule (such as fewer than 5 days of vacation used for a full week off), and the reduced salary matches the reduced schedule.

      The bigger nickel-and-diming issue I see here is that after 20+ years, staff still only accrue 15 days of vacation. I’d spend energy toward changing that (for everyone) rather than pursuing what seems to be something of a one-off situation. If your coworker’s situation is affecting your morale, that’s one discussion, but it’s not your battle to fight on your coworker’s behalf regardless.

    11. Littorally*

      Hm. I think the question of whether or not she’s getting dinged twice boils down to something in your wording.

      When you say she’s got a 20% reduction in hours with corresponding pay reduction, does that mean she’s gone from 40 hours at $40/hour to 32 hours at $32/hour? Or that she’s just reduced hours but kept the same hourly pay rate?

      Because both of the things you describe are reasonable. As Venus eloquently laid out above, vacation accrual is generally handled such that you get the same overall amount of time off, especially when calculated on a weeks basis. 3 weeks of vacation is 3 weeks of not working, whether that’s 120 hours or 96 hours. And vacation is typically paid at whatever your current rate of pay is — if I earn $40 for an hour of work, I get paid $40 for an hour of vacation.

      I guess — the other consideration would be if she spends the PTO after going back to full-time hours, it should be paid at her full-time rate. But I don’t know of any company that prices PTO based on when you earn it, rather than when you spend it.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Ooh, it would be calculated that way in the UK. Holiday is hours, effectively, so you wouldn’t have to use an eight-hour day of PTO to cover your five-hour Sunday shift.

        For example, I accrued about six weeks’ PTO when I was on maternity leave, equivalent to about thirty days (say). But I came back part-time, so those thirty accrued days were worth ten weeks out of the office, but on the flip side I was earning annual leave more slowly. In order to get any work done ever, I bolted most of the time on to the end of the maternity leave (as if I were still full time, so using five days per week) to be paid full salary rather than the reduced maternity pay or prorated part-time pay. This is very common.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Or do you mean, earned it at $40/h and now earn $30/h? I’m not sure. I’ve always been paid at the new rate but it was always higher so I don’t know if that’s required, or a courtesy to ease payroll calculations.

    12. AspiringGardener*

      This person isn’t your employee, right? She is a coworker? I’d drop it and nit spend another second trying to rationalize the policy on her behalf. She hasn’t asked for your hemp, right?

    13. Green Snickers*

      It’s legal and I would stay out of it. It seems like this was a choice by the employee vs work asking her to reduce her pay hours (in that case, this would be legal but a bit wrong of the company and I’d say in good grace, to allot her the full time). The employee might have been asking a big favor of the company by allowing her to stay on at a reduced rate and is happy to take the prorated vacation with that as well.

    14. Diluted Tortoishell*

      Reducing the PTO is disgustingly normal. However I’m not sure what they mean by paying her PTO at her reduced rate…. Are you saying she is back to her normal rate now and they are wanting to pay the 12 days of PTO at her part time rate? If so that’s odd. I’ve never had a company try and pay my PTO at say, my pre-annual raise amount, even if it technically accrued during that time.

      Frankly any money they hope to save with this maneuver is likely lost with the nightmare of work that would be trying to track this.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      A lot of systems are programmed to accrue x fraction of an hour of PTO per hour. Hence, current accruals would be 80% of the normal 120 hours per year. (96 hours or 12 days sounds right.)
      Where it gets unfair is if TPTB are taking away PTO that was earned before the reduction in hours.
      One previous employer, *not* of fond remembrance, had a rule that you only got paid for a holiday if you worked both the business days before and after; vacation would count, but if you didn’t normally work Tuesdays, you never got paid for Monday holidays. Everybody complained, but nothing had changed when I left.

  7. Frankie Bergstein*

    This may come across as really ungrateful given that I’m able to work from home, and my job is a lovely one overall — how do you cope with low motivation/low momentum? I’m feeling that a lot. I don’t quite have enough juice to get me through 8 hours of focus. I can get through 6-7 solid hours of work each day. Nothing is falling through the cracks; it’s mostly things that are “important but not urgent” are getting put off until tomorrow.

    Some of you may have read Adam Grant’s article on languishing in the NYTimes from 4/19, where he describes the state like this: “instead of bouncing out of bed at 6 a.m., I was lying there until 7, playing Words with Friends.

    It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

    Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

    I’ll respond to my comment to post a link. I very, very much relate to this feeling. My questions to you all are:

    1) Does this resonate with you?
    2) How are you addressing it?

      1. LTL*

        Huh. Glad I’m not the only one.

        I haven’t been horrible, but my energy has been slowly decreasing through out the pandemic. Currently majority of it is going to fasting and I don’t have much left for other things (I could skip Ramadan on account of not feeling well but I REALLY don’t want to do that).

    1. Procrastinating at work*

      1. Yes it resonates A LOT.
      2. I’m not pushing to address it. I think doing 6-7 hours of work out of 8 is more than okay, considering the circumstances we’re working in. As long as nothing urgent is being dropped, I’m not stressing about putting some things off when I can’t do any more work that day

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Do you have days where you can’t get quite get through the 6-7 hours, or they feel like pulling teeth?

        1. Fran Fine*

          I do, and I don’t push myself to try and get through it, either. If I need a break to languish further, I just…break. I work from home and make sure I’m available if anything urgent comes up, but other than that, I do what I can and let myself off the hook when I simply can’t do more.

          1. LTL*

            Same here. I know not everyone has the luxury to do take as many breaks, but I really recommend not beating yourself up about needing more breaks than you used to.

      2. Empress Matilda*

        Same, and I think in most desk-based jobs 6-7 hours is reasonable anyway. Nobody expects you to be sitting there Producing Things, or even Thinking Things, for the entire time. In an office, you’d get up to use the washroom, go for lunch, chat with colleagues about their weekend, and so on. Or else you might spend a few minutes checking Instagram, just to give your brain a break.

        So if were doing 6-7 hours of work in a normal day pre-pandemic, that’s totally fine. If you’re STILL doing 6-7 hours of work in this hellish year, then you’re an absolute hero. Don’t worry about it!

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I’m glad it’s just not me. I’ve been essential since Day 1. Somedays I come home and play on my phone for the evening. I know I should be doing things, cleaning, laundry, groceries but the energy that I had at the beginning is gone. This is ironic because there is light at the end of the tunnel now. We’ve all been vaccinated at my work, no one has contracted COVID, biweekly testing, PPE protocols are in place but I still feel like languishing. Right now I should be doing some work before going into work but I just can’t summon the mental energy.

      4. twocents*

        I agree, and I think: even when I was in the office, I lost way more than an hour of productive time between just navigating the halls, being interrupted by coworkers, etc. So I’m not going to beat myself up over getting a slow start to the day or feeling meh before the day ends.

        1. New Mom*

          This is so true. I actually felt like I was working so much more at the start of the pandemic because I had previously had about 1-2 hours of “wasted time” at the office with chatting or messing about, and then went to eight hours straight of working. But now I’m getting so burnt out with that that I feel like I finish my work in 6~ hours and take breaks the rest of the time again.

    2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      It absolutely resonates! I’ve somehow held myself together by alternating shorter work periods with several little breaks, instead of working the usual chunks morning-lunch-afternoon. I find the prospect of surviving only one hour-ish work before a break gives me the push to start, but of course you have to be very careful not to let the breaks go overboard. And also, of course I have the privilege of making my own schedule, so I understand that my strategy doesn’t work for everyone :/

    3. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I resonate with this – feeling much the same way. It’s been difficult for me to tell if it’s my job, isolation-related depressed mood, or something else. If it helps, I read somewhere recently that it’s really only possible to do 3-4 hours of truly focused, creative work a day, so I think if you’re doing 6-7 hours that’s probably pretty good. I think the boring self care stuff like getting outside for walks, talking to friends, exercise, doing stuff I enjoy in my off hours has been most helpful to me.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Yes, that article absolutely resonated with me. I started a new job at the beginning of the year that I though would help motivate me, but it’s still a struggle. I’m doubling down on a regimented schedule and setting accountable time lines, which helps to a point. I got word this week that my office will be opening this summer and people can go in voluntarily, which made me so happy. I need to get back to my pre-pandemic routine, including a better separation between home and work.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      Oh my god, I need to read this article ASAP. I feel like half the people I know are bursting with energy and then myself and the rest of the folks I know just…aren’t. And honestly, I feel kind of broken that I’m not and that I don’t have the motivation, especially during work hours. Like you, nothing is falling through the cracks! I’m just not 100% motivated from the moment I get up to the moment I log off.

      I’m following here to see how others are addressing it. Because for me, it’s just one day at a time. Sometimes, I do have that energy and it’s great but a lot of time I don’t and I have to just…push.

      1. Anax*

        For what it’s worth, I probably look like I’m bursting with energy to my social group. I’ve knit two pounds of yarn this month! I cleaned the house! I’ve read eight books! … but really, I’m just hitting the Skinner box as hard as I can. Getting SOMETHING done helps me feel like I have more control in this out-of-control time, and that dopamine rush is addictive. I’m glad that I’m getting things done, but I’m definitely still languishing; the deeper sense of… contentment and fulfillment is still not there, and I’m just trying to fill in the gap as much as I can. I think we’re all having a rough time, and just showing it differently.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Honestly, I changed my WFH schedule as little as possible from my in-the-office schedule: Up at 5:00, go for a walk instead of commuting, eat breakfast, work until lunch, eat, work some more, log off. I just don’t think of working from home as being at home since I’m technically not available to do at-home things. I stink at schedule changes so I just didn’t do them any more than I had to.

    7. Miraculous Ladybug*

      I’m of the mind that it’s a lot to expect of humans to get 8 hours of focused, productive work every day on a good day, much less during the pandemic times.

      So, it resonates super hard with me—I feel you, and it’s hard!! I’m in the exact situation, WFH, a really lovely job, and I just…. can’t make myself go above average. I’m beyond the bare minimum but below excelling, and even though I believe 8 hours is an arbitrary number of work hours per day based on factories and not thought-work or a creative position like mine, I STILL feel super guilty for not getting it done, like it somehow reflects badly on my work ethic or me as a person that I’m not powering through every day to go above and beyond. My manager doesn’t seem to have noticed; I still get rave reviews from folks and haven’t let any balls drop, so like. It can’t be that bad?? But it’s easy to know that and hard to KNOW that, if that makes any sense.

      Addressing it mostly by making a LOT of very detailed to-do lists in my bullet journal, including noting down tasks that people mention to me in passing so I don’t forget them, and for the bigger more creative projects that aren’t “urgent,” breaking those down into tasks as well so that I have things to actually check off. It makes the big stuff seem less overwhelming when I can’t seem to corral my brain into its usual focus levels and makes sure I actually get them done and don’t just keep pushing them off. How’s it working? I mean, my manager seems happy, so well enough!

      1. Miraculous Ladybug*

        Factories clarification: the 8-hour workday, and 40-hour workweek, was a victory won by Welsh labor organizers in the early 19th century as a reduction from 12-14 hour factory days. This was HUGE at the time, but the 40-hour work week and really the weekend was set up for people doing very different kinds of jobs than the modern office worker does. There hasn’t really been a subsequent reimainging at broad scale of what is feasible for thought-work, but there’s widespread agreement that it is NOT 8 hours a day.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          This is such an incredibly good point! I was recently thinking about how when the 40-hour workweek was introduced in the US, it was framed as 8 hours for work, 8 hours for leisure, and 8 hours for sleep each day. Keeping aside, for a moment, that we all have different sleep requirements… those 40 hours assume that someone else is creating meals, cleaning, raising the next generation, etc.

          tl;dr – this 8 hours/day, 40 hours-per-week expectation is something worth critically analyzing!

          1. Yellow Warbler*

            That also seems to assume teleportation between work and home. Surely having to commute isn’t a new concept.

            1. Anax*

              It’s not, but that’s what “company towns” are for. “Give” your employees housing near work, and it’s great for everyone, affordable and short commutes! Totally not infamously exploitative or anything!

              Most of us don’t work in factories today, and company towns are relatively uncommon in most English-speaking places, but I think that ignoring the time and labor spent commuting also seems like an artifact of 19th century factory labor norms.

              (Although the “glitzy” IT companies like Google and Epic definitely give me that “company town” vibe with all the amenities designed to keep you on site as many hours per day as possible and arranging your commute for you, and oh, you can just buy your groceries and necessities from us too! Jeez.)

        2. KX*

          The traditional “9 to 5” eight-hour day included a lunch, too. So even that wasn’t a full eight hours.

    8. Cat Tree*

      It’s hard to be motivated at home, and it doesn’t make it any easier to know that some people have it worse. Your feelings are valid.

      I think you’re already handling it correctly. My advice is always to prioritize, which you are already doing. Then try not to feel guilty about not doing more. We’re still in a crisis! That’s affecting you even if it doesn’t manifest as fear or anxiety. Since nothing is falling through the cracks, sometimes that has to be good enough.

      Are you getting feedback from your boss? I have felt the same way as you and thought I was barely managing. But then I got a glowing performance review a month ago and I didn’t expect that. I’m so focused on the things I didn’t get to that I didn’t realize all the things I accomplished. It’s probably the same for you, and it can help to hear your boss confirm it.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Thanks for responding, Cat Tree. I appreciate the encouraging words about prioritizing, not feeling guilt, and recognizing that – despite having an existent and relatively good job – we are still in a crisis. Maybe things not falling through the cracks, just treading water for now, has to be enough.

        My boss is generally quite happy with me according to a 360 completed recently. I’ve also delegated several assignments (appropriately) and become faster in my role, so my productivity looks good on paper, which is all she can really tell.

        Perhaps the only coping strategy is acceptance.

        1. Chantel*

          I WFH, and for myself, I just make sure my work is caught up, no one is waiting on anything from me, etc. If those conditions are met, and that translates into a 35-hour week instead of 40 hours, so be it. I figure I have done enough here and there for my employer over the years outside my 40 hours that I’ve earned a bit of a break. It helps to have an understanding boss who monitors whether completion of our work is ever impacted negatively, but otherwise is kind and understanding and leaves us alone.

    9. Ground Control*

      1) YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES
      2) Accepting that 6-7 hours (or even 5-6 hours) of focus is good enough for my role right now and realizing how messed up it is that capitalism had me feeling like I still needed to be 100% effective during a 1-year+ long pandemic. And I’m leaning hard into taking random time off (e.g., a half-day in the middle of the work week just for funsies) to do anything that brings me joy.

    10. TexasWFH*

      Very much a yes here. I feel this in my bones.

      I don’t have a strong sense of how I am addressing it, other than relying heavily on my goals. What am I trying to accomplish now and how can I do that? I am also doubling down on the days where I have a lot of energy and focus. I know these days and moods are fleeting, so if I get the inclination – I run with it.

      I am also giving myself some grace. I traditional work environment is never really “8 uninterrupted hours of work.” There are always people distracting from that work, an errand that takes time to walk to do, etc. 6, heck even 5, hours of good work is still good work.

    11. Zephy*

      Were you firing on all cylinders 100% all day every day before the pandemic? Did you actually sit down at your desk and work for 480 uninterrupted minutes, five days a week? Or did you occasionally stop to, say, get a drink; use the restroom; talk to coworkers; read the news? 6-7 hours of actual work within an 8-hour workday is fine, actually.

      1. pancakes*

        I think it’s both fine and the norm. Likewise not continuing to bound of bed at 6 am during a pandemic as if nothing has changed. The idea that this is abnormal seems way off to me.

    12. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      1. Yes, definitely resonates with me.
      2. I’ve been up front about it with my direct supervisor, with whom I have a great working relationship. I’ve found I have some good high-efficiency weeks, and then low focus, low energy weeks thrown in. They often have to do with what’s going on at work– if there’s a new, pressing project I’m more energized, whereas the lower priorities tend to get pushed along. While my office has been operating at full steam basically since June, I’ve been allowing myself some leeway when needed but generally have kept up and even earned a promotion this year.

      I also have a young kid who hasn’t had a regular school/childcare routine in over a year, so there are dueling voices in my head of “get it done, no excuses!” and “FFS, we’re still in the thick of this mess and 100% efficiency isn’t reasonable.”

    13. Ama*

      I’ve actually battled this off and on for a few years — I’ve been ready for a change professionally for a while but since I need a fairly senior job in a pretty niche area it has been hard to find good positions (and I didn’t see a good job listing from about Feb 2020 until very recently).

      One thing I do at work is that at the end of each day I make a list of 3-5 things I want to get done the next day. These can be really small tasks or pieces of a larger task (and really it works better if they are), things like “draft email to X committee” or “remind Y group that deliverables are due.” For me, what it basically does is remove the paralysis of choice I get when I’m in languishing mode — if I can’t think of what I need to do first, I look at my list and do those things. Sometimes that’s all I get done that day (but at least something got done), and sometimes getting started on that list kickstarts me to do other things.

    14. thanks 2020*

      Yeah, this really doesn’t land well since so many of us are unemployed and had to relocate without outside help or employment or healthcare or transportation and would give anything to have remote work at this time.

    15. DG*

      Research suggests that most people are only able to complete 3-4 hours of deep, focused work a day (think: actively leading meetings, being fully focused on writing a document, etc. – not necessarily writing emails or doing more mundane tasks). Remembering that helps alleviate any guilt I have for not being the World’s Most Productive Person every day and allows me to set more realistic goals for myself.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Oh, that’s me. I’m still doing it, though its been a bit better since I got a new job, am getting out of the house more, getting more sun/outside time, etc. Nothing major, just it feels like life is brighter. And I’m pushing myself to make plans with friends who are fully vaccinated (safely, no worries), which I suspect is going to help too.

      I gave myself permission last year to just exist. I’m not having serious mental health struggles or anything, but recent events are going to impact me and if I just didn’t have much motivation that’s ok.

    17. Spearmint*

      This resonates with me, actually it’s even more intense for me (5-6 hours is a good day for me now, a bad day is 2-3 hours of focused work…).

      What I try to do is (1) measure my success based on what I produce rather than how much I work, and (2) decide that it’s ok to merely meet expectations rather than exceed them. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty occasionally, but I think rationally the idea that we need to be focused little worker bees for 8 hours a day to be good employees is a myth, and if it ever was true it applied to rote factory work not most kinds of modern jobs.

      1. Anonodon for this*

        Yes, I’m feeling it too. Haven’t figured out a great strategy but taking shorter breaks or ending my day a little early, then coming back for a bit to finish up things after dinner helps a bit. Sometimes moving to another location, like sitting on the couch instead of at my desk helps.

        Things are getting better but we’ve all suffered a collective trauma. I’ve dealt with other trauma and have some coping skills but it’s still trauma.

        Being kind to yourself: therapy, meditation, etc. is useful for me, too.

        You are not alone.

    18. Sharrbe*

      This resonates. I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe sometimes. It doesn’t help that I both live alone and work from home and even though I was a happy introvert pre-pandemic, this prolonged isolation has truly thrown me off balance. Honestly I LOVED wfh for the first few months of the pandemic. Sitting on my porch in my pajamas with my laptop in the late spring/early summer? It was glorious. I felt guilty that the world was going through this difficult time, but I was personally enjoying it. But that has …. completely changed and I struggle to stay productive every day. I get done what needs to get done, but the stuff that doesn’t affect anyone else? That gets pushed aside easily sometimes. I don’t have any advice. Just know that others are just kind of treading water and waiting for something to change.

    19. merope*

      I totally relate to that feeling of languishing, and have mentioned that article to a few friends!

      I would like to add that I think there is an issue around our perception of “working” and “productivity” that those of us working from home are experiencing. I find that interruptions to my “work” (i.e. phone calls, bathroom breaks, getting coffee) seem different at home, and get marked internally as “unproductive time”: at work, you are still “at work” even if you aren’t actively working.

    20. RagingADHD*

      1) Yes, completely.

      2) I noticed an immediate reduction as soon as I got shot #2, because I could realistically plan things to look forward to.

      I’m not sure how to overcome it without that change.

    21. A Girl Named Fred*

      This absolutely resonates with me, thank you for sharing the link and for allowing a space to discuss with other folks. My only difference to you is that I also actively dislike (if not outright hate) my job, so I’m compounding burnout onto languishing. I addressed it last week by removing Facebook and Twitter from my phone, because those were the two things that most sucked my time. I started Duolingo, so that at least if I’m procrastinating work I’m doing something better than staring mindlessly at YouTube (not that you can’t learn great things from YouTube! But I was just watching the same twelve videos over and over and over again…)

      Other than that, I’m not really addressing it. I’m addressing the pieces I actually want to improve for my overall quality of life – ability to focus on hobbies, learning new things, etc. – but the pieces of my work that I just Do Not Have Brainspace for right now? If they aren’t critical, they’re not happening right then. I work ahead when I have the energy so I can allow myself the time to rest when I don’t. Maybe that makes me a bad worker, but as was discussed more thoroughly above the 8 hour workday isn’t necessarily conducive to productivity anyway.

      Good luck, friend! Know that there are plenty of us out here languishing with you, and we’re all rooting for each other to pull through!

    22. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      it ABSOLUTELY resonates with me.

      i’m trying to up my workouts and it does help, but it’s a short-term fix as the good feelings don’t last that long. i’m also trying to get back into some hobbies, one of which is writing. i have some longer projects i’ve been working on for a while, but if i’m not in the right mindspace to immerse myself in that world or need a quick escape, i’ll pull up a random word generator online and i’ll write a paragraph, a passage, or a few pages inspired by the word the generator pulled up for me. it’s a nice feeling to be able to express myself creatively again, and the small bursts of creativity, especially during especially during more slow times at work has helped a lot.

    23. Momma Bear*

      1) Yes.
      2) Trying to do more self-care. Now that the weather is better, I’m going on walks, or seeing friends (with proper COVID protocols for our vax situations), and just giving myself the space to not do more than I can do on a given day. Since I have no summer vacation plans this year, I am taking my PTO as mental health days as needed. Three day weekends help.

    24. Solitary squirrel*

      Yes, very much. Feeling alone/unseen is a large part of it: I have executive function troubles (ASD, probably ADHD, seeking diagnosis) and really need to use outside accountability to motivate myself, and I’m on my own a lot, and my boss can’t be expected to micromanage me (and it wouldn’t be good for me if they did). Much of my work doesn’t affect anyone else at my company so if I do have something that someone else is waiting for, I try to leap on it and then use the “glow” from completing it to motivate myself through the next bit of the day. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much.

      I got some good tips on feeling less alone a couple of weeks ago and it has helped – thank you, commentators!

      I’m also currently pondering whether my tendency to hyperfocus and get loads done, and then have a slack period when I don’t achieve so much, is a real problem. I’ve beaten myself up about it for my entire working life. But I don’t miss deadlines and it all gets done. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I still don’t really want colleagues to notice it… it feels like a steady sustainable pace is what everyone expects.

    25. HR Exec Popping In*

      As I am here reading AAM instead of working at this very moment, yes. I have always been someone who loves to work. Even when I don’t like my job at times, I tend to enjoy work. The past few weeks I have not had that feeling. In the past i would occasionally feel this way for a day here or there after a particularly stressful period. But right now it is more of an everyday thing. I’m getting my work done and I like my job, but I’m just not feeling it right now.

      As for what am I doing. Right now I’m doing the ‘ole, “fake it till you make it” strategy. I’m also giving myself some grace to feel the way I feel. I’ve been stepping away, taking a random day off and refusing to feel guilty if I stop working at 4. I’m hoping that it will pass as spring/summer kicks in.

    26. Tris Prior*

      This absolutely resonates with me. I am struggling to stay focused, I often feel unproductive, I definitely do not have 8 hours of productivity in me.

      And meanwhile – my company is insisting that we be wildly creative, that we Innovate! and Disrupt! and Learn Brand New Things Immediately With Zero Support! Also, we’re expected to be visibly passionate and engaged in our jobs. I am fortunate that my immediate boss does not buy into this. But it’s hard to hear this all the time in the WAY too frequent all-hands meetings we have “so that we all can stay connected in these times.” (We’re still all WFH, many of us permanently so.)

      Regarding the former – it both helps and hurts that my job requires me to report what I do all day in like 3 different places (note that I do not have a billable hours requirement, my job does not directly generate money, and we do not have clients we bill to, this is 100 percent “justify your existence” BS). So if nothing else, I am motivated by “what am I going to put down on my timesheet re what tasks I have done all day?” And, honestly, that is about it. If I didn’t have that reporting requirement I likely would be dragging even more than I am.

      But on days when there isn’t that much to do, and I have to force myself to find stuff to do just so it can go on my reports and my timesheet… that is where I struggle. It doesn’t help that we’re really not that busy right now. If I have someone waiting on me to finish something, I’m much more likely to have a productive day. But, like, just finding professional development to do, or starting work on a nonurgent backburnered task that doesn’t have a deadline or anyone really needing it…. URGH. That is tough.

      As far as the constant exhortations to be engaged and rockstars and be insanely innovative every minute of the day – at this point, that’s just noise. It used to bother me a lot that I could not do this, seriously, my executive function has left the building and if I can do my normal tasks competently I count that as a win. We’re in a pandemic. If our upper leadership chooses to not acknowledge that, well, that just shows yet again that they are out of touch and what else is new.

      In the end though – my boss is happy with my work, I got an exceeds rating on my review a couple months ago and a small promotion. So at this point I feel like, if I can maintain the outward appearance of being productive and engaged – like, I try to make some corporate-friendly comment in meetings even when it feels fake, as long as I’m not being dishonest or overly perky – then that is going to have to be good enough. Considering, y’know, we’ve all been through a literal global crisis.

    27. Diluted Tortoishell*

      I feel the same, and like you I feel guilty for feeling that way since I had it objectively better then many. But then I try and remind myself that I understand other’s feeling the way I do. When my best friend shares her struggles I don’t think – “man she’s being a whiny baby and had it so much better then – waves hands at all retail employees.” I support her. So I try to give myself at least that benefit as well.

    28. Mr. Shark*

      It completely resonates with me. And I found that as long as I’m available as needed, I can focus on my work in spurts and just make sure I’m keeping up with any issues that arise. Sometimes I have even delayed work until night because I couldn’t focus during the day, but I always maintained availability as needed.
      For actual work studies for labor patterns at work, you estimate that a person is only actually working 80% of the time he is working, due to breaks, talking to other people, getting resources they need to do the job, going to the restroom, etc. So 6-7 hours is totally within the realm of that.
      Normally we’d have the standard release of sitting and talking to our friends, sometimes about work, other times about what was on TV last night, or the most recent sporting event. And in the office, we don’t really track that time and consider it as “not working” because we are in the office, and available the whole time if something comes up. There should be no difference at home. If you have to throw some clothes in the laundry, go get the mail, take a short walk, it’s all the same, as long as you are getting the job done and not holding up any deadlines.

    29. Not So NewReader*

      Languishing. I think a lot of things can drive a sense of lack of urgency.
      The worst times I felt this is in jobs that were No Good For Me.

      Things I have had some success with:
      I create a list of things to do each night, for the next day. This way I am not losing time saying, “Where did I leave off at?”

      I have created synthetic deadlines. It doesn’t matter when x gets done, so I tell myself to get it done [early in the week or early in the day] so I can feel a small sense of accomplishment. Build some sense of success, even minor, into each day.

      I also sincerely believe that if I stop moving around and doing things that will beget more of the same- I will keep not moving around and doing things. But if I do things then I will feel more like doing other things. This seems to work around my house also. This one actually terrifies the crap out of me- taking to an extreme it’s the type of thing that tv shows are made out of. Sometimes it’s okay to scare the daylights out of yourself if it helps you to move along.

      Years ago, I had to stop with the electronics while in bed or in my pjs. It was too easy just to lollygag. No tv in my room, no cell in my room, nothing. I did that for the reasons you show here- it’s a huge demotivator.

      Sometimes I stack the deck. I put the mindless things at the end of the day. I know my brain power is going to max out around x point. Why not put the smaller things at the end of the day when I really don’t feel like opening a big project? Last week one of my mindless things was to organize some forms I have. I use these forms often and some how they ended up all over. Now they are in hanging files with nice labels. I can grab them quickly when I need them. That sounds like NBD, yawn. But next week, when I go to grab the forms I will be one happy camper.

      As others have said, I think doing a self-check about expectations might be part of your answer. One of the biggest problems with retail is that they expect people to work at warp speed for 8 hours. And that is just not possible. Most people cannot do this. Workday productivity is more like a curve, not a straight line. And a good boss knows that.

      1. Solitary squirrel*

        You’ve just given me an insight into my guilt about not working “steadily”: my early jobs were waitstaff and retail. So very much “if you’re not looking busy, you must be slacking”. I haven’t worked in either for over 15 years but perhaps they played their part in setting my expectations for myself. I should give it more thought.

  8. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

    I am looking to make the move from academia (space science) to IT (data science would be my first choice) and I’m interested in hearing the experiences of other academia refugees. What do you miss the most? What was the most difficult thing to adapt to (I’m dreading non flexible schedules, for example)? Is there anything you wish you knew before you made the switch? My mind is set, I’m really just trying to land on my paws here.

    Also, of course, if anyone has hired PhDs who left academia for a “normal” job and has advice to share I’m all ears!

    1. Mobius 1*

      I got pushed out at the undergrad-to-grad bottleneck myself and I’m still struggling to find a Career, to be honest. /shrug My fiancee and I are seriously considering having me be a stay at home dad when we get to that, since it would save us money on daycare and my earning potential is peanuts and pocket lint anyway at this point.

    2. swip swap*

      I loved the transition! I went from constant changing schedules, lack of clarity about objectives, boundary-crossing colleagues and work that always followed me home to clarity, consistency, support, and being able to turn my computer off at the end of the day knowing that I wouldn’t have to think about it until tomorrow morning! Don’t underestimate the very real chance you’ll enjoy it.

      In terms of things I wish I knew, I think academia melds personal and professional lives more than the corporate world does, and I really had to get used to the idea that nothing in the corporate world is personal and setting aside my own agenda.

    3. Masquerade*

      Just finished a PhD (biomedical science) and went into industry instead of a postdoc position. 100% the right choice for me and I’m much happier.

      I haven’t found it to be less flexible, although we are WFH still and my company really values work-life balance. I guess it would be seen as odd in industry to keep hours like 3pm-midnight like some of my colleagues in academia did (maybe not for IT though), but that’s the only flexibility issue I could think of.

      If I had to pick what I miss, I might choose the lovably odd characters that seem drawn to academic life. My industry coworkers are fun, kind, and probably at least mildly nerdy (like me), but I miss some of the quirkiness that made every day a little different in academia.

      I wish I knew what to do with time where there is nothing that needs to be done. In academia, there were always papers to read and experiments to plan, or at the very least tip boxes to fill. But when all my tasks are done, I feel like I’m stealing the company’s time by ending the day early even though my boss seems fine with it. In the grand scheme of better pay and benefits, not dealing with grants and fellowships, less ego and beurocracy issues, etc. industry is a much better fit for me and I will never look back. Welcome and good luck!

      1. Masquerade*

        No clue what I or my phone’s autocorrect was thinking when I tried to spell “bureaucracy”.

        1. The cat's pajamas*

          It sounds like the fancy French version of bureaucracy. :)

          Another academic refugee here, it took me a while to adjust to not having to tiptoe around people’s egos (I was on admin side). I’m still adjusting to having more autonomy and not having everything I work on get approved by multiple layers of management above me. I don’t get grilled to cite evidence for my suggestions, which is refreshing. I’m still in the nonprofit space, which has some flexibility.

      2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        I still keep the wierd hours ;) , which is probably the most difficult adjustment for me. Like Almost Academic, I also work on a global team. I never turn on my webcam and rarely my mic for 6AM meetings. There is not enough coffee on the planet for that.

        Several of my industry colleagues are former academics, so I still get my coffee time with a motley crew of misfits. I am also one of the youngest/newest here and catch most of the ‘advising’ and ‘assignments’ that drive the support staff mad. I don’t mind it because the main culprit was on my grad committee.

        I do miss access to Web of Science and other databases that my company doesn’t subscribe to. The colleagues who are adjuncts are happy to give me papers I ask for–it just feels like always asking someone to unlock a door for me because I keep forgetting my key. I get to continue doing all my favorite parts of my field (reading, experimental design, data collection/analysis, innovation, and working conditions) and less of my non-favorite parts (writing pubs).

    4. Almost Academic*

      I’m 1 month into a tech-industry job (policy), coming from dropping off of the PhD candidate track (psychology). I think the most surprising thing for me is actually how little my day-t0-day has changed. I still do research, read papers, attend lectures, work as a team, edit drafts, etc. I get to set my own work schedule, but since I’m coordinating with a global team my work hours are pretty wonky. I think what has surprised me the most is just the sheer variety of jobs that are available. What used to be my job as a grant PI is split across probably 10 different teams. So I would think really carefully about what tasks you actually want to be doing on a daily basis, and tailor your job search accordingly.

      What I miss the most? The feeling of security in “knowing” what my position was. Academia is super hierarchical, which makes it easier to interact with folks when you’re not navigating an unspoken org chart. Also, just from having been in that world, the metrics are pretty clear and straightforward, and similar across institutions. It’s a smaller world, so I knew what all of the political traps were to fall into, how many papers I needed to publish approximately per year, and the like. Because there are so many more tasks and metrics in tech, it can be harder to navigate what your job actually entails. I’m hoping this will get better over time for me, as I settle into the company and role more.

      Most difficult to adapt to? Unspoken cultural norms for sure. For instance, I was asked to take a look at and comment on a document the other day. In academia, the more comments and edits you give signal more respect for the author (at least in my collaborations and institutions). Apparently the sheer volume of comments I gave was totally overwhelming in industry! So just little things like that which I didn’t think about before, and no one knew to warn me about.

      Honestly I love it so far overall, but I think there is a lot of heterogeneity in positions. I would advise you to be very careful about vetting positions, companies, and do a lot of informational interviews as you make the switch.

    5. Diluted Tortoishell*

      After undergrad, I published my research and completed a Fulbright and then rather then attend grad school worked in my field for another year. I chose to leave science and went to work in the private sector over a decade ago.

      I found that I am most satisfied in industries adjacent to my study and was very unhappy at industries with no ties. So in your case I would recommend looking to work at Space X, Boeing, etc. type places that are adjacent to the field of rocket science.

      As for Data Science – my experience has been that a lot of places think it’s better to train a Dog to be a Cat then to hire a Cat and teach them about being a Dog. So when I worked at the Bank – the data scientists were all former store managers with no former statistical training. When I worked at the Hospital, the IT data scientists were all former nurses with no IT experience. Oftentimes these places think they know best and that their specific field is so incredibly difficult to understand from the outside that it’s just easier to have non-statisticians create their statistical analyses or non-IT create their databases. Overwhelmingly they are wrong – 21 nested IF statements in an excel sheet that returned 2 results on 3 variables Why???? But that is how it is and I don’t see that changing – if anything with the invention of codeless and codelite solutions more and more places are not seeing a need to have big data specialists and are instead decentralizing analytics.

      Finally I will say that, despite efforts to keep current, when 60 hours of my week are spent on “not my major” those skills fade fast. So that’s another reason to try and stay industry adjacent. I am now working in an adjacent industry after 10 years out of it and I’m finding I have to look up a lot of the basics again.

    6. hamsterpants*

      After completing my PhD in an engineering field I went straight to industry.
      Things I miss: flexible hours, really cool/interesting work, ability to talk openly with my colleagues about my work, general cool college-town vibe
      Things I don’t miss: extreme dependence on just one person (academic advisor) vs a general company that wants me to succeed, blurry boundaries, low salary
      Most difficult thing to adapt two: basically being a cog in a machine. At least in academia people expect you to have your own ambitions and your own project, not just being a tiny insignificant part of something enormous.
      Anything I wish I’d know: my PhD felt temporary whereas my job felt permanent. I was able to put up with a lot of crap during my PhD because I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. After graduating and getting a job, though, the next “step” is retirement! Working nights and weekends feels much more oppressive in my industry job than it ever did in my PhD.

    7. tamarack and fireweed*

      I have a different path but may well end up on your trajectory again: Dropped out of grad program (physics), bounced around for a few years, went into IT (software operations), moved across continents to be with my partner and got job at a university as staff (some software development, some support of scientific operations, data quality etc), took a turn into the institutions PhD program (geophysics/earth science/data science) and am now a postdoc… but know that I’m not mobile like the typical early career academic and am keeping my eyes on industry jobs, both locally (that would be mostly data management, and quite thin on the ground) and fully remote.

      You have options. Several of the people I know went into related industries. A remote sensing former postdoc went to work for an oil company to detect methane leaks. In space science, you have sensor development companies, specialized software companies, various private space related ventures that you could approach.

      Make contact an ask about stuff like schedules! Relatively senior people in tech usually have a lot of flexibility as well, built around check-in points (like daily stand-ups, if applicable on-call schedules). Though yes, there would be sometimes non-negotiable dress codes or core business hours. The trick is to ask in an open fashion (“tell me about how the workday is organized – work hours,…”) but not to give the impression that you’re capricious about it. If what you hear is something you don’t want to, or can’t adapt to then you hear out your interlocutor with a poker face and make your decision later. (A good friend of mine *always* asks about dress codes – he’s a man who wears kilts and high heels, and in some industries he would get grief for that.)

      In the private sector you can usually expect managers to … be trained in how to manage. And in a functional private industry workplace, there will be an expectation of professionalism higher than in many parts of academia (though that is somewhat changing).

      The profit motive is usually overriding, so if you want to make an argument for X (a process change, a piece of equipment, more time spent on a task) you can and should formulate it in how it benefits the business. Incentives are usually much more streamlined than in PI-driven research. You WILL, if you aren’t extremely selective, be contributing to overall goals that may seem meh to a former academic (in short, some very rich people getting richer, someone finding a new way or a better way of extracting money from someone). But you also can be selective about it! OTOH, decisions from above fall like a hammer – if the executive team has decided to eliminate your unit or lay off 30% of people in your job description, this is what will happen. Sometimes from one day to the next.

      Social capital is accrued differently and this will probably vary from industry to industry. It’s not necessarily better or worse…

      Make sure your CV is re-written in an industry-appropriate format! This is not hard for someone in a research oriented STEM field, but needs to happen.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Oh, one thing is travel – you CAN expect not to share a hotel room, to receive a per-diem, and also, if you travel on a weekend, to then be able to take a comp day. By default, you aren’t working for the greater good and not even for your own professional advancement (most of the time) – everything you do should be compensated. (There are exceptions to that of course, but they are just partial. For example, participation in conferences can by a perk … but be very clear if it is “my employer is sending me to [industry workshop] to represent them” or “my employer provides paid time for me to participate in [workshop I want for my development]”, or, most likely, X% of the first and 100-X% of the second.

    8. Marinette*

      Agreed with others, the kind of industry jobs that hire PhDs do not tend to be the kind of jobs that are monitoring schedules tightly and giving you figurative or literal demerits for being 5 minutes late. I have to show up to meetings on time, but if there’s not a meeting at 9am, I can show up at 10, 10:30,…
      I did a PhD, then a post-doc, then an industry job, now at a national lab, so I got a pretty good sampling. Mostly I’d say the mood is entirely dependent on your immediate working group. Just like in grad school where some professors would give students grief for taking weekends off and others were actual human beings, there are divisions of the same company with completely different work cultures, or I’ve even seen it across teams, when you get a “stays late” culture trying to collaborate with a “starts early” culture. So while things are flexible you’re expected to also be flexible about not demanding your flex time in some circumstances. Anyway, all this to say, when you interview make sure you are assessing the culture of the actual team you’ll be working with, not what the HR people say.
      Things that are great about industry: no grant-writing, no scraping for proposal ideas, few money woes. I didn’t have to come up with project ideas, my job was to refine and implement ideas I’m handed.
      Not-so-great: if the project you’re assigned to is not great, you’ve typically got little recourse.
      One thing I do like is actually a similarity between industry science in a group, vs being a grad student – namely that I was never looking forward to being the professor in charge and coming up with all the ideas, orchestrating all the different research directions, being the final decider on things. And the sense that professor A can go gripe to professor B about her problems, but B doesn’t necessarily care and isn’t doing related research anyway. The people who are my colleagues now (PhD, MS, BS level scientists in my group) are all interested in collaboratively solving a bunch of similar projects, and it’s a lot more interactive not just among a project team, but cross-pollination between teams in a managerial group. In terms of collaboration, it’s more like the amorphous support structure I saw at the grad student level than the limited formalized professor collabs. Longwinded way to say something I like about it, and again may not apply to everyplace, but it’s seemed to be true in my experience

    9. Lindsay*

      My husband got a PhD in political science and then shifted into work as a software engineer, so it is possible. He is a self-taught coder and created a lot of websites etc when doing his political science degree so he had a fair amount of experience already. He just applied to a ton of jobs where he could use his coding skills and got one after a few months – I think some of it was luck, but it does happen. One of his friends almost finished her PhD and then pivoted to working in tech as a data scientist.

  9. Qwerty*

    Question for women in tech (or aspiring to be in tech) – what do you actually want to hear or learn at these women’s conferences?

    I regularly get requests to speak at conferences for women in tech but always turn them down. Partly because I hate public speaking, but mostly because my mind goes blank on coming up with a topic since the question is super open ended. I thrive on panel discussions and always have audience members, especially students, tell me about how I inspired them or helped them navigate through this field, so I feel like I should attempt to get over my dislike of public speaking and take advantage of everything being virtual this conference season. I have a varied background of multiple industries that are male-dominated intersecting with tech being male-dominated and I always enter a company as the only female engineer (but change it quickly to a culturally diverse set of women) Plus I’ve done a lot with mentoring/leadership, breaking some glass ceilings and then leaving it all to become a individual contributor. I’ve also never really felt like I fit at these conferences and have only attended to participate in panels, so I’d love to know the audience is actually look for so I can talk about something useful. They seem to have grown a lot since back in my day.

    Like, I’d love to kill the myth of imposter syndrome, but feel like advertising a talk on feedback would sound really boring. (how to give useful feedback, how to engage your manager in better communication if you don’t feel like you are getting what you need, setting reasonable expectations for yourself and others, etc)

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Agree! I really struggled with feedback as a fresh graduate. My whole identity was work, so it was really hard not to take it personally.

        Another useful topic would be negotiation, complete with a mock discussion so we can really get tone and phrasing right. I’ve never successfully negotiated. I follow advice for guys and I think it backfires.

        1. ThePear8*

          Same! As a soon-to-be new grad who is new to the work world, I’m finding feedback one of the most unfamiliar things to have to navigate and guidance on that would be fantastic!

      2. Ama*

        Yeah I’m in medical research not tech, but I run an early career mentoring program and we just discussed adding a feedback talk to our curriculum (both how to give and how to receive feedback), because it is something we see our mentees struggling with.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Honestly, I just want to see examples of women who have a career in tech and also have kids. I’ve worked with very few other women engineers. I’ve worked with zero women engineers who have kids :(

      I’d also like to hear more about your experience changing company culture! I left because of culture— ours seemed very resistant to change. (Insert meme with the Ever Given labeled “systemic racism and sexism” and the single backhoe trying to dig it out labeled “a diversity and inclusion working group”). Is it because of your seniority? Do you find there’s a few bad actors who, once you fire them, you’re able to change everyone else’s behavior effectively? Do you have to replace whole teams? Do you have a binder full of “culturally diverse women” you bring in, or have you found ways to draw in fresh applicants? Are there policy changes that you’ve found really help (for example, anonymizing resumes for the first screenings)?

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Along with navigating careers with children, what about elderly parents? I know childcare is an issue but eldercare is going to be an issue as well. In fact, eldercare is what likely kept my mom out of the workforce. I’ve also heard of stories where APS agencies will forbid an elderly parent with dementia from being left along (which is totally understandable I’ll admit) but this leaves single and low-income women (because this usually falls on women) in a lurch if they have to work. This often pushes elderly parents into nursing homes when they could have potentially been cared for at home (sometimes APS will even have the elderly parent removed and placed into a care home if they find that the caregiver cannot find or afford anyone to stay with them).

        (I’m sorry I’m coming across as bashing APS; I just think, like childcare, eldercare challenges can be a result of systemic societal issues).

        1. No Tribble At All*

          What’s APS?

          I was also asking about children because of the need for maternity leave. How do I advocate for a raise if I’m going to a chunk of the next year off? How do I say I’m going to work on a project if I’m going to be gone? How do I go about asking for WFH afterwards? What happens if they don’t have a place for pumping— who do I talk to?

          1. JohannaCabal*

            APS=Adult Protective Services

            With elderly parents (and disabled siblings unable to live on their own), often it’s a matter of time off to deal with doctor’s visits, social worker visits, touring care homes, etc. Hiring care help can be a challenge and sometimes the person hired to essentially babysit an elderly parent never shows up, meaning having to suddenly stay home.

            Most places traditionally require remote workers to have children in daycare or watched by a sitter. Does this mean remote workers need similar arrangements for elderly parents who live with them? And as I mentioned above, what happens when the elderly parent is not able to be left home alone?

            And what about navigating both childcare and eldercare? A worker may need to take time off as their child is too sick to go to school. Then, an elderly parent is sick and in the hospital. My mom was a SAHP when my grandmother was hit by dementia. By that time, I was in high school. But what about working moms with younger children?

    2. irene adler*

      If I’m gonna attend any kind of conference, I want to bring back some nugget(s) of knowledge that I can put to use in my work world. I’m not gonna be happy hearing about a whole lot of theoretical things, or what’s going on with industries I have no interest in.

      Given what you wrote, here’s my thoughts:
      “I always enter a company as the only female engineer (but change it quickly to a culturally diverse set of women).”
      I’d love to hear your successes in this area. What was the plan? What worked? What didn’t? Obstacles? How were they overcome? What things surprised you as this unfolded? What things disappointed you?
      “ breaking some glass ceilings” -I’d love to learn how this was accomplished. Suggestions on how others might accomplish this. And, how did this alter the organization for the better.

      Now, please don’t nix the feedback idea because of what I wrote. That’s good too. Maybe flesh out the feedback concept with how it fits into a bigger picture and paves the way to success with interacting with (1) bosses, (2) co-workers (3) reports (4) accomplishing career or work goals. It’s a tool and I’d love to hear how it’s used and where it got you.

    3. should i apply?*

      As a women in engineering, I would be both interested in the feedback idea, but also you mention that you have changed cultures to be more diverse and I would love to hear how you did that.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I went to the Grace Hopper Celebration last year, and one of the things that was so refreshing about it is how many talks about actual tech stuff there were. Yes, of course, there’s the “what it’s like to be a woman in tech” panels, but those did not dominate the content. I’d say any problem you’ve solved it’s very likely someone else would be interested in. You say you’ve done a lot of mentoring/leadership. A keynote speech on mentoring and leadership would be great. A talk on giving useful feedback would absolutely not be boring (unless you make it boring—but the topic itself isn’t boring). Sounds as if you have a lot to say!

      1. LDF*

        +1. The feedback talk sounds interesting, various women-specific topics are interesting, but it’s also just nice to go to a talk about a “neutral” topic but presented by a woman or at least a team of people who aren’t blatantly misogynistic, in an environment that is just more welcoming. If you are a woman in tech then basically any topic you’d present at a technical conference is appropriate for a “technical conference for women” imo.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        +1 more. It’s really nice to be able to focus on the technical content without worrying about who is going to think I don’t belong at the conference, or that I’m there as a sponsoring company’s HR rep. And as a bonus, you can re-use the technical talks at general-purpose conferences as well.

      3. LilyP*

        +1 to just giving tech talks that aren’t Let’s Talk About Gender. Sometimes it’s just nice & good for my subconscious to marinate my brain in the experience of listening to women be experts on stuff. Plus, I learn something new about technical topics relevant to my job.

    5. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      Negotiations of all sorts, not just initial salaries & raises : scheduling tight resources, getting assigned to interesting projects, and getting appropriate credit for group projects “led” by people who aren’t actually doing (or managing) the work.

      1. Anonooooooo!*

        I struggle with this because being a non-white male in tech sucks, but I’m not super feminine either, which is what drew me into tech in the first place. When women in tech movements increased, it started with “it’s ok to be feminine and like tech, too.” However, now it feels like more of a requirement, like it’s no longer ok to not wear makeup etc. I recently discovered that I’m probably non-binary, but it’s not safe for me to be out, so the lgbtia+ sessions don’t resonate with me either, and I feel even less welcome in all of tech again.

    6. matcha123*

      I consider myself “aspiring” to be in tech. My major and current job have absolutely nothing to do with tech. I’ve gone to a handful of talks in my area about getting into tech and would love to listen to more.

      When the subject of switching fields comes up, I feel like the speakers all tend to come from highly competitive backgrounds (“I went from being a lawyer to a programmer!”) or had a ton of money to put into a bootcamp (“I quit my job as a CPA to do this bootcamp for six-months, it was only $20k and I used my savings…totally worth it!”).

      Are there even options for those of us that don’t come from competitive backgrounds and aren’t naturally “in your face”? Are there options for those of us that don’t have tons of savings and the luxury of being able to quit our jobs to do a bootcamp? Am I wasting my time even trying to change fields if I’m going go be 40 in a few years?

      How are racial minorites, women, and people from low-income backgrounds treated in your field or office?
      Do I need to speak or dress a certain way to fit in?

      This goes back to the “highly completive” thing, but I notice some people like to posture and use overly technical language or give overly complicated explanations to sound “clever.” I…dislike that kind of banter, but I’ve had people tell me that by *not* speaking that way, *I* come off as ignorant.

      Those are the kinds of topics I’d love to hear about.

      1. Qwerty*

        I really appreciate your perspective, as I mostly interact with students or people who already have their foot in the door through something like a QA position. I’ve met people all sorts of backgrounds who transitioned to tech – maybe the high powered ones are just a lot more vocal? I feel like I need to do more research here.

        You definitely don’t need a six-month bootcamp! It’ll take longer to learn part-time, but you might also retain it better. I’ve usually heard of bootcamps described as grueling (maybe that’s why the highly competitive people liked it?). It’s also really hard to tell which are good at teaching vs churning people through. The goods ones have scholarship options as well as tuition deferral plans. Only when you get a job making above X do the payments start, there’s a cap on interest, and a cap on how many payments can be made.

        There’s a line of books by Eric Matthes that a lot of libraries have which can be good for learning on your own. “Python Crash Course” teaches not just how to code, but how to write good code, and exposes the reader to different types of projects that can show other types of career options like data science rather than the default web apps. The EDX website also has free courses and was popular with people I know who learned programming on their own. (Coursera used be popular but I think that stopped being free)

        1. matcha123*

          Thank you for replying. I just did a search for Matthes’ book and will check it out. I have taken a few paid and free Python courses on EdX and Coursera. I also use Codeacademy from time to time, but they are using Python 2. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel skilled enough to try to make the switch, though. But will continue plugging along!

    7. Anax*

      I guess this is tangential, but as a trans man in tech, I’d love to be included in these conferences. We experience a lot of the same issues – no surprise, since most of us grew up “as women”, and many of us still are perceived to be women or obviously trans/queer.

      I think there’s been a push to include all people who identify as women, which is awesome and long overdue! But I definitely know a lot of trans men who would find this sort of support and discussion helpful, but feel uncomfortable joining in without an explicit invitation, since it’s usually described as a women’s conference.

      (And that talk on feedback sounds GREAT.)

    8. AcademiaBlues*

      Honestly, just seeing am accomplished woman giving a talk is enough. My field has so few women in positions of power, I treasure every opportunity to see them (and to see that they are real and exist). Bonus points for not implying that “only weak women suffer from sexism” and “sexism does not affect strong women”.

      1. HeyAnonyNony*

        Same! I’m ready to hear honest accounts from successful women. I was a mathelete in high school, studied STEM in undergrad, and now in grad. For 20 years now, I’ve been told that I will be discriminated against and that I’ll need to be twice as good to get half the recognition. These things are true, but exhausting. It should be part of the programming, but I mostly want to hear competent women share their work.

    9. Diluted Tortoishell*

      I think these are fine ideas and could just use with some more snazzy titles.

      Let yourself win
      (could be about imposter syndrome, talking yourself out of applying, holding the bar to high for yourself etc.)
      Balance is not a one person game
      (could be about current women in leadership and the tools they user. News flash they have maids and Nannies even if they are only making $80K a year).
      Control the Narrative
      (could be about handling idea stealers, taking credit for your own work, and not volunteering for scut work)

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Ooh, yes – a good title goes a long way. And never discount puns as a way to get people’s attention!

      2. Qwerty*

        I love that more of these conferences have content advisors to help with stuff like title naming! I seriously spent about 20min today trying to figure out what to name a slack channel. (Conclusion: Wait until I meet with my very creative sibling tomorrow and ask them to suggest names.)

    10. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I’m not yet at the point of being invited to speak at conferences, but I have successfully submitted to multiple conferences via open CFPs (Call For Proposals). This has been a mix of general technical conferences, and ones specifically targeted towards women in tech.

      One thing I’ve found useful when preparing a talk is to think about subjects I’d like to learn more about, but that I haven’t seen offered. I figure if I’m curious about something, other people will also be curious about it. Or it might be something new and cool that I’ve learned about, but that I haven’t seen widely discussed. If I think it’s cool, other people might too. The nice thing about this is it applies to both technical and non-technical subjects. In general, there’s no subject so niche that you’re the only person who is interested in it. (And even if it is pretty niche, obvious enthusiasm for your subject goes a long way.)

    11. hamsterpants*

      I like panels and conferences that give very concrete and specific guidance. As a woman in tech, I can’t count how many times I’ve been told to “stand up for myself” “find a mentor” “network” “maintain work-life balance” etc etc. It feels like fluff, honestly. What I would find really useful would be specific cases studies, even scripts.

      1. ThePear8*

        Yes! I’ve heard all this fluff too…and then am left feeling “great! But…HOW do I network or find a mentor or stand up for myself?”

      2. Qwerty*

        This is the exact reason I needed the responses today. I’m always being told to go talk about a vague topic and I needed specific questions to answer. I am not good at fluff and find that style of advice to a little magic-wand-wavey.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Probably the most useful professional advice I have ever gotten came from Alison! It’s that you can do your best to fix a bad situation but that you only have so much power. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, take a non-answer as an answer, and accept that you can’t fix your situation any way other than by leaving it.

    12. Qwerty*

      Thank You Everyone!!! It has been so helpful to hear your views and perspectives! I really appreciate the specific questions – it’ll help me a lot in figuring out what to say and brought up more useful memories in how I achieved things. I’m super energized now not just for this talk but also figuring out ways of getting better involved in the community to fix some of the problems that you’ve identified.

    13. tamarack and fireweed*

      I intentionally worked on overcoming my dislike of public speaking over the last 8 or so years, and have spoken at tech conferences (PyCon for example). Not at women in tech (I’m in academia, so that’s maybe a little off) but I would!

      In general, I think after “community topics” became more prevalent we got a bit of a glut in them. If they are well done they can be totally thrilling though, so don’t let this hold you off ! I think the feedback topic sounds interesting! Also, if you like panels – I personally always enjoy a good panel discussion. You could put yourself forward for more panels.

      My own preference is for talks that have *some* tech in them. Not purely community or how-to-be-an X topics. “Why I think you should consider applying [tech topic X] to [sector/problem]”. X could be IT security, machine learning, some approach to project management, something like debugging, data visualization … pretty much ANY relatively general tech topic that is at least a little bit hot (warm?). The sector could be something that newer tech women might be interested in getting into. From game development to election security or fighting hunger…

      But even if you want to speak about glass ceilings or being queer in your niche of the industry, as long as there are generalizable insights and practical nuggets of wisdom – that is, you’re grounded in authentic experience that others can use – it’s fine. The ones I don’t like are very self-promotional, or talk more about what-could-be and what-should-be rather than what is and what has been done.

    14. Quinalla*

      I am a woman in engineering and I think this is a great topic!

      I also like topics about how to get male allies and what you can ask them to do for you. Lots of other good ideas in the responses. Also, not sure if you are white woman, but if you are, you can talk about what you’ve learned about being a good ally yourself to BIPOC, LGBT+, etc.

      Any/all of the double binds of being a woman in a male dominated field. How you have to strike the right balance between confident and warm, advocating for yourself, but not too strongly, etc.

      I was running a women’s group in my industry pre-COVID and we talked about quite a few topics like these and quite a few ideas I got from the HBR Women at Work podcast. It isn’t specific to tech, but quite a good source of information.

  10. Alldogsarepuppies*

    What is everyone’s best LinkedIn learning classes/topics – or similar free career development learning.

    1. Escaped a Work Cult*

      I’m always going to recommend any kind of Project Management course because I think it helps everyone understand about documents, plans, schedules, etc because no matter what the industry is, the rules and best practices apply. I will also mention that as a PM I’m just preaching my job to everyone lol.

    2. 867-5309*

      I think this is going to be career/industry dependent. What is your functional area and in what industry?

    3. TurkeyLurkey*

      I’m currently working through some of their Tableau courses and impressed (as a Tableau beginner.)

    4. Not your average Jo(lene)*

      Have you tried any Coursera offerings? Our state dept of Labor got it for everyone that wanted it in our state. They have free and paid trainings.

  11. Elenna*

    Question: what could your boss do that would motivate good work?

    My boss asked me to think about that during a recent 1-1, and I appreciate the thought, but at the same time I’m having a hard time thinking of stuff that’s actually on the boss to do, as opposed to self-motivation stuff.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      My boss could stop one employee on the same level as me from watching tv all day.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That reminded me of one time ( pre COVID) where they made us sit in the office to work for some reason and a coworker had Drag Race playing on her phone since that’s what she does during work ( just..at home)

      2. Wintermute*

        ensuring equitable workload distribution and that everyone is pulling their weight is a big part of keeping morale up, agreed.

    2. Elenna*

      Feel like I should specify that I’m generally happy with my boss, my salary, etc – there’s nothing in particular demotivating me as far as I can tell, which makes this harder.

      1. Former Usher*

        Maybe that’s the answer. Instead of coming up with something new for your manager to do, you could highlight things that she already does that make you happy as an employee.

    3. Tuckerman*

      I would like my boss to recommend more professional development opportunities, tailored to my role and goals, that would help me expand my knowledge/qualifications. Having more training would make more motivated to find/apply creative solutions at work.

    4. annoyed ex-english major*

      Is it possible to discuss the types of projects you’re most invested in/excited about, and have your boss funnel them to you? (ex: I’m so burned out on email, and I miss the days when I could research and write something. I don’t want another project that involves fielding a million emails, but I’d love one that lets me dig into a problem and create/write a solution)

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      1. Allow me to do my job
      2. But also be available if I have questions
      3. Act as a bureaucracy buffer/facilitator, so I can do my job
      4. Advocate for me for raises and promotions
      5. Give me feedback when I’m doing things well or need to change my approach to things
      6. Surround me with colleagues that are competent and kind
      7. Fire people who are incompetent and/or unkind

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes to #3!
        If I’m going to get my work done I need someone with authority to act as my buffer when, say, the CEO gets too excited about my project, or when the inter-departmental politics get weird. I don’t have the knowledge, authority or brain space to address that stuff; that’s boss stuff.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Yes to all of these. 4 is what came to mind immediately because I just brought that up explicitly with my manager, but she does all of these things already for the most part.

        The only other thing that would help is more resources to support my work. Unfortunately my manager can ask up the chain but it’s a company-wide issue.

    6. Slipping The Leash*

      Hah! I’d be motivated if my bosses would fire the two people in my group who aren’t self-motivated to do good work, and replace them with reliable co-workers. Some people have it, some people don’t.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        Yup, this. Fire the azz kissers and reward the good solid workers who get things done. I’m sick and tired of upward mobility being about who went to lunch with whom.

      2. Chantel*

        I hear this! Once and for all, fire the slacker who wanders around the building like an unsupervised child, visiting everyone, including higher-ups who should be asking him (and themselves!) why he has so much free time. It doesn’t impact my work but morale is another story. I can’t stand the lack of accountability here and am looking to leave soon.

    7. Sylvan*

      When my work is good, my boss rewards me with work that I enjoy more.

      I’m a copywriter and my manager has a bunch of assignments to divide between me and my coworkers. When I’m getting work done quickly and well, I get writing assignments about subjects I enjoy writing about. When I’m working slowly or not doing so great, I get whichever writing assignment is available.

      Is something like this possible for your job?

    8. Ama*

      Honestly as someone who has had an overwhelming workload and an understaffed department for three years– what my boss could do is give me real long-term solutions to my problem (i.e. restructuring my department and doubling my staff) when I point out the workload is unsustainable instead of taking two short term projects off my department’s plate only to put three new projects on them two months later.

      1. Anax*

        Ditto! I really wish my manager would say NO more often, when other departments ask for crazy projects with no notice. Our whole team has been working overtime for months and we’re all exhausted and begging for vacation, it’s just not sustainable.

    9. Tricksie*

      How about simple things? Like noticing and appreciating good work; thanking you for any spectacular effort; recognizing your contributions when talking about projects with other people. Also, understanding when things are particularly rough (with work or with life) and NOT expecting A+++++ work during those times on non-important thing…appreciating when you prioritize your best work for the most important things. Enlisting you in decisions and valuing your input.

      All of of those things are what makes me want to work hard for a boss.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      There is nothing he can do that is in his power.
      He has no control over my operations department that makes my life miserable, and he cannot raise my pay.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      1. Have a spine. (Any pushback from another department, and they cave.)
      2. Be involved. (My first annual interview included the phrase, “I have no idea what you’re doing but I hear you’re doing a great job.
      3. Fire the freeloaders. (See also #1)

    12. tamarack and fireweed*

      [My current boss is actually quite good about that, but speaking mostly about previous bosses…]

      * Ensure each meeting has an agenda, is no longer than necessary, and finishes on time
      * Check in which each team member often enough to be aware what they need to be successful at their current set of tasks, and what you could and should do to remove the next most significant obstacle
      * Give direction and context
      * Related: Share your thinking about where the team stands and is going, where the larger unit stands and is going …
      * Do not ever compromise about equitable treatment of every team member. Ensure compensation and access to small perks is free of favoritism and that discrepancies are motivated by transparent, real-life relevant differences.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      In addition to what others have said:
      Listen to me. When I say x is going on, don’t blow by that. If you don’t believe me, that is okay but at least check to see what IS actually going on. Understand that I very seldom say something is a problem and pay attention.

      Control the workplace and control the work. Set expectations for outsiders and be consistent. For example, X needs to be done in Y manner if it’s not done in Y manner we can’t accept X.

      If your subordinates have people under them, back up your subordinates when they are correct. I had a subordinate who informed me I was not his boss and could not tell him what to do. It was a thing of beauty when the big boss came out and said, “Yeah, she is your boss, she CAN tell you what to do, if you don’t like it then the door is over there.” (He became more careful to make sure I did not hear his complaints about me, but the complaints never stopped and he was gone within a few weeks.)

      Consistency is super important. If you must make changes then explain why.

    14. New Mom*

      Expand my team so that I get to spend more of my bandwidth on the visioning and improvement of my department’s work instead of spending so much time on entry-level and data entry work which is always time-sensitive. I have only one direct report when the team should actually be more like 3-4 people.

  12. Save the Hellbender*

    I’m wondering if anyone else on here is stuck in the kind of Covid limbo I’m in. I’m a recent grad and I moved back home to ride out the pandemic without paying inordinate amounts of my salary on rent, and I’ve never been to my job in person. It’s in the city I went to school in, not my hometown. I’m vaccinated and the world is slowly reopening, but my job hasn’t really let us know when we might be back, and/or what “back” will look like. Is anyone else in the same situation, and how are you handling apartment searching/discussing a move back with your managers?

    1. Elenna*

      No advice, sorry, just commenting to remind myself to follow the discussion on apartment searching. I graduated mid-2019, and I was at my job in person for a few months, but I was planning to start searching for apartments around April 2020. And now it’s over a year later and I’m still living with my parents… I appreciate their letting me stay, and I appreciate that I was able to save money on rent, but I’m looking forward to having my own place!

      1. Save the Hellbender*

        Glad to know someone else is in the same boat! Balancing when I should move based on 1) not wanting to WFH in a smaller apt 2) wanting to, y’know, start my life 3) saving money and 4) the absolute nightmare logistics of hauling my stuff to a different city in the middle of a pandemic is stressing me about a lot, but I know I’m far from alone.
        Also, finding roommates and a place to live sight unseen is making me nervous as well.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I think you’ve just got to ask. Email your manager and write something like, “Hi Emily, I’ve just gotten my second COVID vaccination, it looks like we’re coming to the end of the pandemic, and I was wondering about our company’s plan for dealing with post-COVID issues. Are we moving back to the office? Do we plan to continue working from home? Do I need to move back to Other-City? I’d be thankful for any light you can shed on this matter.”

      That should be fine and you can adjust the level of formality to whatever your organization requires.

      1. Save the Hellbender*

        Yeah, and I’m sure they’ll be as transparent as they can be. But they can’t really manage the difficult logistics of the move for me. which is the source of my stress, and they probably can’t give a long view ahead, which I’d probably need for apt searching.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Assuming that your manager can’t give you specifics on a reopening date, perhaps you can share your concern about having a tight timeline to pack up and pick a new apartment. You might be able to get a delay for your return to account for your move as well. Not every office is the same, but mine is trying to support our recent-grads in ways like this.

          1. Hillary*

            Seconding this – the managers at my company try to be understanding about moving/leases/etc. Most of us remember how horrible it was to move frequently when we were younger.

    3. Manon*

      Same – graduated last spring, moved home because the jobs I was interviewing for disappeared, and now I’m not sure when I’ll move out.

      My company has said we’ll have 60 days notice before we’re back in person. I’ve joined a few roommate search groups on Facebook, but I think I’ll wait until the ‘return to the office’ announcement to start seriously looking for an apartment.

    4. Exhausted (no longer) Frontline Worker*

      Set up a meeting with your supervisor and HR if you have it/someone higher up who can make decisions about this to negotiate IN WRITING the amount of time you will need to move before returning to the office, even if the company-wide policy is different. So for example if you think finding an apartment and moving and unpacking will take you 60 days but the company is only planning to give a 30 day notice to return to the office, get something in writing that you can continue to work from home for those additional 30 days if needed. Your company will almost definitely be making accommodations for people who lack childcare options and people who cannot medically get the vaccine to extend WFH after others return to the office, so they can likely temporarily extend that for you too, so long as you’re clear on what you need and raise the issue early! I’d also consider negotiating a minimum threshold for when you have to return to work. If the plan is for people to be in the office one day per week at first, you might be able to ask for continued WFH until you’d be expected to be in the office 50% of the time, for example. And finally, for your own sanity, make sure to schedule a few days of PTO around your move!

    5. Office Worker in MA*

      You should definitely check with your manager. My job at a large university in Massachusetts announced that employees will have 90 days after Baker announces an end to the public health emergency to return to the state/area before you must be available to return to on-campus if required. By doing that, they are building in flexibility to allow people time to secure new housing and make the move.

    6. Snark No More!*

      I’m the office manager at my work and we just don’t know. We have a plan, sort of, but we don’t know if it’s solid. We propose a hybrid model where people come in two days a week but we’re struggling with how to schedule the teams. Everybody at once? With or without the data team? Does each group get a day with the data group? That means the data group is in three days a week. Or we may stay remote forever. But the academic business required “agreements” for all remote workers in the before times, will we still have to have those? What about parking? Do we have to pay for a full month when we only have to be there two days a week? What will the CDC guidelines say about maximum capacity in the fall? So many unknowns.

    7. Wfh*

      I’m not in your specific situation, but in general I’m planning on using an “ask forgiveness, not permission” approach.

      Office is reopen? Well, the company shuttles are still shut down, so I will be continuing to work from home until I’m actually able to get there.

      I work at a big company, and my manager has essentially the same amount of influence that I do on reopening, so that does influence my approach.

  13. Sharkie*

    Hey!
    Did anyone else get laid off last March when *this* all started, took a stepping stone job not in your industry just to keep the lights on and to pay the bills thinking you would only stay there for 9 months max while you wait for your Industry to recover. So you send out resumes and applications like crazy for months and haven’t even heard back and have had zero interviews and now you are super burnt out from work , and now you are questioning if you are ever going to get back to the career to worked so hard for and dedicated every ounce of your being to for the past six years?

    Or is that just me?

    1. Yellow Warbler*

      This was me in 2008. My industry was so decimated that I waitressed for five years before finding another job in my field (and that only came after a year of UB).

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Ugh, I’m having flashbacks to 2009 when I was laid off from my marketing job in January. In March I wound up in a role reviewing contracts that was definitely not up my alley and included a paycut (why they hired me and not a paralegal I will never know). Fired from that job in July. After a temp gig, I wound up working for a market research firm that was a glorified call center in November, this time with a steeper paycut.

        The only reason I got back into my original career field was that a contact I made in 2009 remembered me when a role opened up in 2012.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Not just you at all. I accepted an offer in my field yesterday, just about when I was ready to give up and resign myself to a career as an assistant for the rest of my life! Hang in there!

    3. Diluted Tortoishell*

      Keep applying. However feel free to take a vacation from it. I took a “month off” while applying earlier this summer and ended up landing a job shortly after.

      I stayed in my industry but switched companies from a Covid denier to a Covid preventor and it still took 5 months of 3-4 tailored resumes a week. Many interviews were cancelled, and I even had companies I’d work with in the past ghost me (ironically their recruiters are now reaching out to me again so I think it was just that they were frazzled too).

      Give yourself time. Set a reasonable goal and take breaks.

  14. Awkward question*

    Am I allowed to go to a different floor in my office building to use the bathroom if someone recently had a smelly BM in the one for my floor? Am I being rude?

    1. Mobius 1*

      I guess it all depends on what you mean by “allowed”? Like is your workplace trying to set up floor-specific “bubbles” of employees for Pandemic Reasons? Or are you just talking about whether or not you’d get side-eye?

      1. Awkward question*

        More so am I going to piss off other people on that floor. I don’t want to be known as the person who travels floors to use the bathroom and irritating my “neighbors”

        1. Natalie*

          I’m having a very hard time imagining anyone even noticing once, much less enough times or with enough irritation to draw any kinds of conclusions about you from this.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I used to work in the building that had restrooms inside our space (we rented 5 floors of a 9 story building, and restrooms on these floors were behind the limited access). So if you go to a different floor, theoretically people will notice, may be? Possibly?
            Why would they care though?
            Now I am in the office that rents a suite in an office building, all restrooms are accessible to everyone (they are outside of any rental space), so no one would even know.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yes. I mean, the one on your floor might have been occupied. (By an actual person and not just a bad smell.)

      Also: Y’all need some Lysol or something. One of our bathrooms opens onto our main work area and, yeah, we’re never without something to kill odors. (Yes, this is as awkward as it sounds. Most of us use the bathroom in the garage.)

      1. Anax*

        I also had some coworkers pre-pandemic who would go for walks around the building on breaks, and end up at some restroom far afield from our cubes. It’s really pretty common.

      2. LavaLamp*

        LYSOL IS NOT AN AIR FRESHENER! Doing this is harmful, please get some fabreeze or that stuff you put in the toilet.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      You are overthinking this :) Of course you are allowed to use a different bathroom. I mean unless you work in a really strange office where they assign bathrooms and check ids at the door or something.

    4. Teapot Wrangler*

      I think that’s generally fine. Some people go to the loo on a different floor to get their steps in too.

      1. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

        True! And it’s a good answer if some nosy person cars enough to ask you why you go to another floor!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Nobody is watching you or cares that much. People who monitor other people’s bathroom habits are weirdos, and fortunately there are a lot less of them IRL than the internet makes it appear.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      I’ve worked multiple places, in normal times, where I notice people going to/arriving at a different floor in order to not poop where the coworkers they know personally can hear/smell. Unless there’s a COVID-related reason not to, go for it.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Right. I’ve used the bathroom on other floors when I used to work in an office – no one cared.

    7. Kesnit*

      When I first started transition, I worked on a floor with my agency and two other businesses. I could not use the men’s room because my co-workers knew me as female. I did not feel I could use the women’s room because (1) I’m not a woman, and (2) I was afraid people from the other businesses would complain about the masculine-looking person using the women’s room. I figured out the bathrooms 2 floors above us were open (not in a rented space) and there were multiple companies on that floor, so if someone saw me and didn’t know who I was, they would assume I was with another company. And I could use the men’s room in peace!

    8. Diluted Tortoishell*

      Yes if:
      Both bathrooms are owned by the same company.
      You don’t make a show of it.
      It doesn’t take you away from your work for extra long.
      You aren’t preventing that team/department from using their bathroom when your’s is technically available.

      Otherwise it should be fine. Most places I’ve worked wouldn’t even notice.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have talked to the boss about getting an automatic air freshener installed. He did and that was helpful.

  15. Brain*

    I am torn between “I am struggling and work because I am depressed” and “I am depressed because I am struggling at work.” I know this job is not the right fit for me, but after 6+ months of unemployment working is better than not working… right? I was depressed when I was unemployed, and I’m depressed now. The smart answer is “keep working while working on mental health and looking for a new job,” but my brain is screaming for me to get out (there’s nothing malicious about the job. Just the wrong fit.) Please help convince my brain that it’s better to do mediocre work for money then no work for no money.

    1. Cat Tree*

      What kind of help are you getting for your depression, if any?

      I’ve been in a similar boat but it took me a long time to realize it. I had miserable job after miserable job, and finally realized that the problem was partly on my side. After getting therapy and reflecting back, some of those miserable jobs truly were toxic! But some of them weren’t as bad as they seemed to me at the time.

      Your feelings are valid and you feel the way you feel. But it can be really hard to judge a terrible job from an ok job through the cloud of depression.

      1. Brain*

        In irony of ironies, with my new insurance I can’t continue seeing my current therapist unless I want to go out of pocket, which is out of budget. So there will be a break (hopefully short) while I find a new one.

    2. Sherm*

      Instead of convincing your brain, tell your brain that it needs to convince *you*. Your brain wants you to do something extreme — quitting during a pandemic with no job lined up, when you know you’d be depressed anyway — so tell your brain it needs to come up with some solid evidence why it would be good to quit. And feelings are not proof.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        Do you have any vacation or sick time accrued yet? A mental health day or two might be an option to take a break without quitting.

      2. Name (Required)*

        I am here to add support to this topic. It can be challenging to go through this. But while returning to work didn’t make things better, quitting without other work lined up is likely to make it worse.

        Small steps. This step is “I can pay bills while job searching” which is at least 1% better than the alternative. That has at least worked for me (especially when rent comes due).

        And keep taking care of yourself right now, regardless of job situation.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Remind your brain that there’s a reason they pay people to work. Because it’s usually something you wouldn’t want to do if you weren’t getting paid for it.
      Remind your brain that the work you aren’t enjoying is what pays for the things you *do* enjoy.
      And I wish you good luck in looking for something better, and in your mental status generally.

    4. AnonCommisurate*

      Did I post this? Because it definitely resonates with me. Looking for new work, but I’m so new at this job (after long-term unemployment) that my resume looks … less than desirable right now. Hope it all works out, Brain.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Take a look at self-care basics- good foods, hydration, rest and if possible taking short walks on a semi-regular basis.

      See if you can work on reframing. Right now you have: Please help convince my brain that it’s better to do mediocre work for money then no work for no money.
      See if you can shift to: “I am proud of me for bailing myself out this much. And I will continue looking until I find that better job for myself. [Affirmation:] I will take care of me.”

      Sometimes a move forward looks very much like backward move. Tell yourself that you have gotten this far and things will continue to change for you.
      It’s hard, I know. I came to the conclusion a while ago, that it’s what we do when the chips are down that can dictate our quality of life for years to come. You have gotten this far, don’t slow down now, keep pushing along as best you can each day. Some days will be better than others. Forgive yourself and decide each day is a clean slate. Start over.

  16. NotAJobHopRabbit*

    I feel that I am learning a lot in my new job, but I feel miserable living where I do. I was planning on leaving after a year but I will be getting my degree in a few weeks. I’m planning on leaving after six months. Can I still keep this job on my resume while applying for other places?

    Please note that this is the first time I will be leaving a job for less than a year.

    1. Autumnheart*

      Yes, you can keep any job on your resume. The question is whether you think this job will give you a good reference, were a future employer to verify your employment there. If you think leaving after 6 months won’t burn the bridge (and hey, it doesn’t have to–sometimes life happens, and not everyone is an ogre about it) then sure. But if you’re worried that your boss/HR might cast a negative light on your employability as a result, then I’d suggest leaving it off.

      You can always take it off after being hired at your next job, too.

    2. Ya Girl*

      Absolutely! You can use the new degree (congrats!) as an excuse for why you’re switching, that’s a common situation.

  17. Nervous trans guy*

    Thank you to everyone who answered my question last week about coming out as trans during the interview process!

    I had my first interview on Wednesday over Zoom, which turned out to be more of a quick screening, so I didn’t end up saying anything. But I had actually forgotten that I had my pronouns in my zoom name from a while back, so they may have gotten the hint anyway and so far it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. I sent an email yesterday to follow up, and they replied back maybe an hour later and invited me back for a second interview today!

    One concern I have if this continues to move forward is that while most of their staff is still remote, and interviews are being done remotely, the actual job would be in person if I get it. I’m ok with this in theory – I’m fully vaccinated and the info they’ve given me on their COVID protocols all sounds good – but would it be strange to ask to actually see the office in person first if I get an offer?

    1. Ali G*

      I don’t think that’s weird. In normal times you would have had a chance to see the environment you would be working in. The only problem I would see if logistically it was an issue, if no one is actually there regularly.
      Good luck!

      1. Nervous trans guy*

        Thank you! From what I was told, there are a couple people still working out of the office, so I’m hoping the logistics won’t be an issue. This would be my first “professional” job, so I just needed to get a bit of a sanity check to make sure I wouldn’t be doing anything outside the norm.

    2. Zephy*

      I don’t see why it would be strange, that’s a normal part of the interview process in normal times, seeing the commute and the physical space and surrounding area. Especially if they’re expecting you to be on-site if they do end up hiring you. If you wanted to lampshade it a little you could frame it exactly like that – “In normal times, seeing where the office is located and what the commute would be like would have been part of the interview process – but because we did the interviewing remotely, of course I haven’t yet gathered that information. So, I wanted to ask if I could come in for a brief tour of the office before giving you my decision. Is there a good time [this week/next week/within some other reasonable timeframe] that I could come by?” If they make noises about why you didn’t take the initiative to come see the office before the offer stage, you can very reasonably claim an abundance of caution, not taking unnecessary trips, didn’t want to impose if they weren’t interested in moving forward with you, etc.

      1. Nervous trans guy*

        Thank you so much, that framing is really helpful! I wasn’t entirely sure how to ask either, to be honest.

    3. Ashley*

      Not strange at all. I would just ask for a tour at the end stages. At some point an in person interview is helpful just so you can see the space. Where you physically work can have a major impact on your work day.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re asking to see the office – I did! I met up with my new boss for lunch before I started, got a tour of the office, met a bunch of people, etc. It was fine.

      1. Nervous trans guy*

        Oh great, thank you! I figured it probably wasn’t completely unreasonable, but I’m still entry level and with the extra pandemic weirdness, it’s hard to tell sometimes.

    5. Anax*

      That sounds pretty normal. Are you also hoping to get “vibes” on how conservative/trans-friendly the office will be? That also sounds pretty sensible to me; I’d definitely be more nervous at an office with cubes full of crosses and American flags than one with rainbow flag stickers, and that’s also information you would usually get during the interview process.

      If that’s your goal, you may want to ask specifically to see the workspace and meet people at their desks, not just to “meet the team”. If you asked for the latter, I’d expect you to meet in a meeting room, which would have fewer of those handy cube decorations which can tell you a lot about corporate/team culture. You can likely frame that as “not wanting to interrupt everyone with a big meeting, just to walk through and say hello while they work.”

      (And congrats, I’m also a trans man and those interview pronoun conversations are so awkward! It’s hard to have a time that feels “natural” to wedge that in.)

      1. LDF*

        If that’s the goal, you could also ask if any ERGs/affinity groups exist and if so, which ones. Not that a company with an LGBT ERG is automatically perfect but it’s at least one data point. And you don’t have to say what ERGs you’d “belong” in, just ask what’s out there.

        1. Trotwood*

          This was going to be my suggestion too, if it’s a company of a reasonable size. You can definitely ask some questions around the company’s approach to Diversity and Inclusion without specifically outing yourself.

        2. Nervous trans guy*

          That’s not a bad idea! I don’t think this particular employer is big enough to have much, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future interviews.

  18. Delphine*

    What would be a good farewell message for a colleague who was likely let go for performance issues, but was a pleasure to know and work with? We’ve worked together for quite a few years and I will miss them a lot, even though collaborating on projects was sometimes frustrating. The official message is that they’re leaving on their own, but it feels somewhat dishonest and two-faced to just cheerily wish them the best with their future endeavors when I know this probably wasn’t what they’d have chosen on their own.

    1. annoyed ex-english major*

      I think a simple “I’ll miss you around the office” and “I’m sure you’ll be great in whatever you do next” (if it’s true) or “I hope your next step is just what you’re looking for”?

    2. Observer*

      but it feels somewhat dishonest and two-faced to just cheerily wish them the best with their future endeavors when I know this probably wasn’t what they’d have chosen on their own.

      I’m not sure why. They may not have chosen this path, but they still want to be successful. And they probably would also like to be in a place that is comfortable to them and where they are liked. So, why NOT wish them the best? And if they are not interested in people knowing that they got pushed out why do you feel the need to acknowledge it? They’d rather not.

      1. Mrs. Peaches*

        I can understand why it feels awkward to not acknowledged the situation. I’m assuming OP feels like they should offer some expression of empathy. But if the coworker hasn’t shared that they’re being let go, it really is a kindness to not bring it up. A heartfelt message like “I’ll miss working with you” won’t come across as fake or two-faced.

        1. Observer*

          Awkward? Definitely. But that’s different from hypocritical.

          And ultimately, as you say, if the coworker doesn’t want to being it up, it’s kinder to not bring it up.

    3. RagingADHD*

      It’s been a pleasure to know you, and I’ll miss you. I hope everything works out well for you! Take care.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Is there a particular trait or skill you could mention, like their great attitude or amazing Excel skills? That detail might make it feel more sincere and meaningful.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep.

        I will always remember how you were kind to everyone.
        OR
        I think your attitude was exemplary.

        Keep it short. Then close with something like, “I wish you the best with your new endeavors.”

        This is one of those times where less is more.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Unless the departing person is using OP for a reference, that seems very impersonal. It’s too similar to “I appreciate that you never had body odor issues.”

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      I wouldn’t go for a cheery message, but for a wistful one that reflects your sincere feeling. If you’re right and they are leaving more or less unvoluntarily, and are smarting from it, then “I just heard you’re leaving and wanted to make sure you know that I genuinely appreciated working with you! It’s been a pleasure to work with and know you, and I’m wishing you the very best for your next steps.” is probably going to land better than “You’re gonna be great at whatever you do!” (Also if you can,”Feel free to mention my name as a reference”)

  19. annoyed ex-english major*

    I need a gut check, here– if a coworker is constantly using comma splices and run-on sentences in communications with faculty and students, do you think that’s something worth bringing up or something I need to get over? When I see the draft first, I’ll correct them, but that’s not very often… it’s driving me nuts.

    1. Rick T*

      Get over it. They are a co-worker, you aren’t responsible for their content. Their manager might give them coaching on their writing but you really can’t.

          1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

            Run-on sentences have an evolving place in the grammar lexicon, if you ask me, and the policing of commas depends entirely on the medium. Is this a graded paper in which one is being specifically judged on their grammar? Eh, then maybe. Is this any sort of not-as-formal communication? Then no one cares. Can you understand them? Does it impede your understanding of the material? That’s what actually matters.

            1. pancakes*

              I care. I agree with everyone else that annoyed ex-english major shouldn’t try to correct their co-worker, but I hate to see run-on sentences. They come off as inconsiderate and sloppily self-involved. Informal communication needn’t be slovenly.

    2. lost academic*

      Yup – something to get over. You aren’t their manager and unless it’s creating a problem for you outside of annoyance, it’s not for you to fix.

    3. Autumnheart*

      Get over it. Think of it this way, you’re not being paid enough to add “remedial grammar lessons” to your to-do list. (However much you’re being paid, it wouldn’t be enough to do that.) Save your energy for more important things. If coworker wants to brush up on their writing skills, well, it sounds like you’re all in a school, so they know where to ask.

    4. Observer*

      I agree with the others – with one caveat. Are you responsible for communications from your office? If so, then you probably should have a conversation.

      Otherwise, just roll your eyes internally and move on. Not your issue to deal with.

    5. Ama*

      If you are being asked to proof their work as part of your job, yes (although only if you think they might listen — I’ve definitely had coworkers where it was just easier for me to continue correcting rather than try to get them to notice a pattern in the errors they made), but if it isn’t actually your job to proof things, no.

    6. Carol*

      Agree with the other comments, and want to add that I think texting, internet writing, etc. are slowly but surely moving the needle on comma splices.

      One thing that’s important to remember is language is very dynamic, and written grammar when taken to the extent of, say, comma splices, is an attempt to impose ultimately simplistic and false ideas of “right” and “wrong” on a system that just doesn’t work that way in the real world. It helps with clarity in written form and anchors that realm in more consistency, but it doesn’t really imbue all those grammar technicalities with some kind of ultimate rightness. A real grammar violation is something perhaps a child or a non-native language learner would do, such as getting word order or conjugation wrong to the point they’re not really expressing themselves the way they intend.

      As another example, the weird split infinitives rules were actually created out of thin air by people who thought English should be more “perfect” like Latin, where you literally can’t split an infinitive. So they made the rule, taught it, and here we are, still in a world where people will tell you you cannot split an infinitive in English and be grammatically correct, when actually you totally can do it and still get the exact same meaning across.

      1. Chantel*

        “…an attempt to impose ultimately simplistic and false ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ on a system that just doesn’t work that way in the real world…”

        ————

        Not sure where you get that. Precise grammar is as necessary as mathematical precision. Otherwise, we’re potentially left guessing what someone is trying to communicate, and must work even harder to learn the language when such learning otherwise could be quite seamless. Besides, imagine if that same “meh” logic were applied to math. “I’m building a large stage that holds 1000 people, but the blueprint says 10. Oh, well, so what, it’s just a couple zeroes.”

        In the US, many insist that English be the official language, but we make it extremely difficult for non-native speakers to learn the language viz. its euphamisms, indifference to precise grammar, etc. I just don’t understand the lack of respect for good grammar.

        1. Observer*

          Besides, imagine if that same “meh” logic were applied to math. “I’m building a large stage that holds 1000 people, but the blueprint says 10. Oh, well, so what, it’s just a couple zeroes.”

          Why WOULD we apply that logic? One of the signs of mature thinking is the ability to deploy nuance and apply the appropriate rules to any given situation.

          For Architectural drawings and medication dosing, every 0 and decimal matters. For describing how exciting the latest new initiative is? Nope. And if you try to treat both the same, you WILL run into trouble. Either you are going to lose accuracy where you NEED it. Or you are going to wind up using so much bandwidth on the non-essentials that you simply cannot get to the things you really need to get to.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          A lot of the “grammar” (often, usage and punctuation convention) rules are arbitrary. The exact same sentence construction that is reviled as a comma splice in English is perfectly normal in German. (As a German who has lived in English-speaking countries now for more than 15 years it is starting to stand out to me, and I have to practice my comma “splices” in German sometimes :-).

          The same applies to rules about commas in restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. English speakers look really ridiculous to me when they go on a high horse arguing that YOU MUST MARK the difference between “the boy who hated chocolate didn’t eat dessert” (which boy? the one who hated chocolate.) and “the boy, who hated chocolate, didn’t eat dessert” (the boy didn’t eat dessert b/c apparently chocolate was the only thing on offer, and he hated it). These are punctuated identically in German. You figure out the semantics from the context.

          Note that I don’t recommend abandoning the rules. It’s fine to have a unified style. Just to take ourselves 5 notches less seriously about them and recognize that most of them are arbitrary.

        3. Not A Manager*

          Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote, the droghte of March hath perced to the roote, thanne longen folk…

          …to recognize that language evolves, and that people drive the evolution, not academicians.

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      Agree with others that you can’t proofread a peer’s work without being asked—but also just sending commiseration, because this would drive me nuts too. I hate run-ons! My sympathy.

    8. Mantis Toboggan, MD*

      Unless these communications are being sent to hundreds of people at a time, or are directed at important stakeholders who are known pedants, I think it would be obnoxious to intervene.

      Signed, an English PhD

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I know I can hit the comma key and not even realize. I re-read later and “Where the heck did that comma come from? sigh.”

      I think this is on a par with bringing in cookies. You don’t want to be that person known for bringing in baked goods and you don’t want to be known as the person who proofs things. These are two things you really don’t want to do more of.

    10. tamarack and fireweed*

      It depends. Is your department charged with professional writing (ie, you’re PR, the public information office, the office that has instructional designers…)? Then the stylistic and usage standards could well be brought up.

      If you’re communicating on behalf of one peer department to another (HR or facility management for example), let it go.

  20. Bobina*

    (UK) People in tech/product management type roles/recruitment: what do you do when your job role involves product management type tasks, but your actual job title is very different.

    I’m looking for a new role and trying to explicitly apply for this type of work, and not getting many bites. I’m working on updating my CV trying to make it clearer what I do/did (updating terminology etc) but my current and some of my previous job titles are more along the lines of [vague and apparently unrelated type of] Engineer – and I’m wondering if its making me look like I have less experience than I actually do.

    (Alternatively, this is just the sucky part of job hunting!)

    1. annoyed ex-english major*

      Make sure that your project management work and accomplishments are the first bullet point under each of your previous jobs, I’d say:
      Unrelated Engineer, Company, 2017-2020
      – Project managed 30 [engineering things], increasing efficiency by 3% above the company average

      1. Bobina*

        Yup, good point! Was looking critically at my CV today and definitely can do some re-arranging of some bullets! It feels like a bit of a trade-off in some places between the ones where I have the best quantifiable success and the ones which show the skills they will want which is a bit annoying though…

        1. annoyed ex-english major*

          yeah, I get that frustration. They’ll still read the bullet points with the biggest quantifiable successes, though! But putting your project management skills up front increases the chances that they mentally put you in a PM box instead of an engineer box.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yes, this. Also, put your certifications (do you have Prince II?) front and center. If you aren’t certified, ask your company to get you certified. (Argue for it as part of professional development, and skills the department can advertise internally and externally.) [I just say that you wrote product management and the previous commenter said project management – I’m leaving the Prince II bit in even though it might not apply.]

        And then, there’s the cover letter! Start with talking about your product/tech management related accomplishments and how they relate to the role you’re applying for.

        I worked in tech in the UK and found them not hung up on the job title when your responsibilities and experiences fit what they’re looking for.

    2. Teapot Wrangler*

      Always possible to put stuff in brackets e.g. Information Architect (Product Manager role) Apr 2016-Mar 2019

      1. Bobina*

        Yeah. For some reason I’ve always been worried about doing that (I guess I feel like when background checks happen it might confuse people?) but what I was considering doing was adding something of a qualifier – for example “Unrelated Engineer (Specific Software)”? I feel that also helps put the bullets in context and explain why there are product management type achievements in them. For instance one of my titles is something like teapot engineer, where usually teapot engineering is people who fix teapots, but what I was actually doing was working on software to help give the teapot engineers information to do their job better.

  21. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

    About 10 days ago I reached a breaking point with my work situation and handed in my resignation. I offered to stay through the end of June because my position will be difficult to fill and I’d like to have time to bring my replacement up to speed, and we’re on a fiscal year that ends June 30 so it’s a good transition point. I didn’t have a new job already lined up and hadn’t seriously been looking for several years so I was really anxious about potentially not having any income by midsummer. However, I’ve got 2 preliminary video interviews scheduled for early next week, both at jobs in a different industry from the one I’m currently in but have worked in before, and both look like really promising opportunities for growth and, frankly, for my well-being. Fingers crossed!

    1. Spice for this*

      Good for you! I bet it felt good to hand in your resignation. I am looking for a new job and hope to be able to hand in my resignation by June.

  22. Anonagoose*

    I am looking for a job where I don’t have to use a spreadsheet. It’s not a strength of mine not even for organizing. I know the benefits of a spreadsheet, believe me. Please do not extoll the virtues. I simply do not want to use one in my life, work, personal, nowhere.

    I’m considering nursery school teacher, construction worker, etc. I have no skills in those areas, but I am open to ideas. I do like words. A simple table is clean and nice. But something in my brain shuts off with numbers in boxes. I do not want it shut on.

    Just needed to say that. Why can’t I just tell people that? It’s such a relief to be honest. No one tries to convince you to like cilantro, but want to convince you on spreadsheet. A spreadsheet makes my brain feel like soap.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Even words in boxes I mix up. I’m like my brain somehow forgets what was on the other side of the chart…

    2. Slipping The Leash*

      I will admit to trying to convince people to like cilantro. But spreadsheets are a hard no.

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

        The cilantro thing has a genetic component though…some people taste soap.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I don’t taste soap so no genetic excuse here…I just hate cilantro! While I don’t like spreadsheets much, they’re better than cilantro :D

    3. Colette*

      I love spreadsheets, but they are not necesary in every job. I don’t remember the last time I used a spreadsheet in my job – and when I did, it was probably because it was easier for me, not because it was required.

      If you want to share some specifics of what you do now, we may be able to think of places where you could use your skills and not use spreadsheets….

      1. Anonagoose*

        Transferable skills. Thanks for asking this. It’s so easy to believe my skills aren’t transferring and I’ll be an office admin forever. I have been for like 11 years in two different positions. (There was other stuff in between but not permanent work.) What do I do?

        I greet people. Order supplies. Put together packets. Write e-mails. Order catering. Call the plumber when the drains don’t work. Answer phones. Send and receive snail mail. Deposit and record checks. Make hotel reservations for company staff and guests. Book plane tickets.

        In specific places I have managed data in databases. In put and output. During Covid, the phones were transferred to my cell phone. I also helped with some online work specific to this workplace. Some copy editing but I won’t say I’m excellent at that or want to really do that.

        It’s important work ’cause someone has to do it. But I don’t always want to be the one responsible for trash forever, you know? I haven’t really delved into other detailed work because the specific jobs didn’t interest me. What interests me? Working with people, listening to people talk, facilitating groups, diversity and inclusion, direct contact with people we serve. Don’t necessarily want a master’s degree. I have some volunteer experience with the areas I’m interested in but not as deep as if it were paid.

        And yes, I can use spreadsheets, I just really don’t want to. I really love volunteer work because you can directly help without the minutiae my paid work gets into. Say you worked in a soup kitchen, you could actually pour the soup and watch someone eat it, not just count how many ingredients there are to make the soup and put that into a spreadsheet for re-order. That work again is necessary and I’ve done it. But I don’t want that any longer.

        Thanks for asking, Colette!

        1. Colette*

          What about something like customer service (which doesn’t have to be first-line support – maybe something like executive customer service, where you deal with customers who have had bad experiences and fix them).

          It sounds like you might also be good at purchasing, asset management, etc. but wouldn’t be as interested in those.

          1. Anonagoose*

            I actually am really good at customer service! And I’d love to do it. I became so good at it that I started helping with training other staff in handling difficult callers.

            Wow, you were really astute to notice that! I will start looking there. They might still have a spreadsheet or many (I know the boxes have been let out of the genie bottle) but at least it would be about something I genuinely like and am somewhat good at. :-)

            Thanks!

            1. Malika*

              I escaped the office admin route by customer service! No more trash taking outing and niggly piggly tasks that zero people appreciate! 1/3rd of the work for way more room for advancement and all round appreciation! Would recommend to any office admin that is customer oriented and wants to pivot their career.

              1. Anonagoose*

                One day, I’d like to hear about this escape story!

                People think the trash magically disappears. It doesn’t. No appreciation, nada.

                It is time for a pivot!

                1. Malika*

                  People think their courier packages get packed and handed over to couriers by fairies, the cleaning people get arranged by the dust buster goblins and the pens just wander into the office supply closet by their own volition. I learnt a lot in my time as office support but am downright beaming now i am doing something else. My colleagues gave me as feedback that i always seem so happy and that is because i go into work every day knowing happily that i will never be again the office manager. Whatever you end up doing i am sure you will enjoy it immensely and the very good news is that many jobs are a donwight walk in the park conpared to office support which means you have the potential to develop quickly. I wish you good luck in whatever you choose.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      People totally try to convince you to like cilantro. And coffee. And beer and wine and dark chocolate and you name it. (I’m a super taster with the cilantro soap gene. I can’t stand coffee, or tea, or beer, or wine, or dark chocolate, or any of that stuff that you love, no not even that kind, and just walking into a Chipotle makes my mouth purse.)

      1. allathian*

        Ouch! Do you like anything in the cabbage family or do they all taste bitter? How about strawberries, sour or sweet?

        I’m horrible with spreadsheets, I can just about use it to do simple sums. And I have a Master’s in economics and bussiness administration…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Most raw veg are at least a little bitter to me, especially the leafies. I tend to smother them in salad dressing and cheese. :-P strawberries and most fruit are fine, the sweeter the better.

          And I spreadsheet just about everything, haha.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Yep – some people make it their mission in life to convince you to like something you said you don’t like. Or they make it their mission in life to get you to “just tryyyyy” something you already know you don’t like. I hate those people.

    5. merope*

      Of the jobs you have listed, I would most certainly cross school teacher off your list, unless you don’t anticipate having to provide any kind of ongoing assessment of your pupils.

      If you are interested in physical labour, the construction trades can be a great place to make a fair amount of money (depending on the trade) while exercising your problem-solving skills and resourcefulness.

      1. Pop*

        Absolutely. Spreadsheets are generally used for tracking data (not just numbers data, but words too), and I can’t imagine a teacher not using one for something, even at the preschool level.

        1. Avocado*

          In fact, we use them ESPECIALLY at the preschool level because children at that age are developing quickly and it’s important to track their growth and progress, or lack thereof, over the year. And telling someone hiring an early childhood educator that you’re pursuing the field because of something you DON’T like in other fields would get you laughed out of the building. This is not a job most people could do.

        2. JustaTech*

          Yeah, spreadsheets are a thing even in daycare (as distinct from pre-school). I have a friend who even figured out how to make a chart/spreadsheet for one of her infant teachers who was basically illiterate in English (possibly in all languages). The teacher was great with the babies, never complained about the messy work, so my friend just color and symbol coded the children for keeping track of their bottles and diapers and naps and whatnot (on paper, not on a computer).

          Basic spreadsheets and tables are kind of everywhere.

    6. Calliope*

      I’m a lawyer and have never used a spreadsheet in my work. Nor has anyone told me I should like them (I would be weirded out if they did. Why would I?)

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Heh, counterpoint: I’m a lawyer and I use spreadsheets in my practice management all the time. Tracking deadlines, tracking my billable hours, checking my accounts receivable, monitoring matters that have “chicken and egg” issues with paperwork (that is, can’t do X until Y has been filed, can’t do Z until Y comes back with approvals, etc.), creating privilege logs, and so on. I’m far from a power user but spreadsheets are a godsend compared to having to track all this nonsense on paper or in a word processor.

        I also get them all the time from clients when I’m helping them with their matters. I’m not in mergers and acquisitions or anything, but even an ordinary business transaction will have data arriving to me in spreadsheets.

        1. Calliope*

          Ok. I didn’t say no lawyers used them. We have separate time keeping software and docketing software. I mean I’m sure I’ve opened up excel and listed something at some point but it’s hardly a job requirement.

      2. Marny*

        Same. I’m a lawyer who has never used a spreadsheet. I’ve never worked in places where I need to track billable hours, so it doesn’t even come up there. I think I used Excel once while planning my wedding to track budget and RSVPs. Otherwise, they’ve just never come up in my life.

    7. Anax*

      This might be tangential, but have you considered looking into dyslexia/dyscalculia? The way you describe your brain shutting off sounds like it might be more than just dislike, and maybe having a fancy word to use would help people understand that this is just how you are. It might also help to know why your brain works that way, if possible, if you want to look into trades or seek an apprenticeship – and that sounds like it might be a good career path for you.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      Hate to break it to you, but spreadsheets are pretty common across teaching levels.

    9. Exhausted (no longer) Frontline Worker*

      In my several years of social services case management, my contact with spreadsheets was minimal. It wasn’t zero, but I rarely had to enter anything and only occasionally had to read them (primarily words, not numbers), and it wasn’t a super important tool for us to disseminate information. Many of my coworkers struggled with the most basic aspects of Excel and none of them were about to be fired over it. So that could be a viable option for you! I personally love a good spreadsheet, but won’t do any job that involves driving or asking people for money. We all have our kryptonite ;)

    10. Anonagoose*

      Thanks to everyone who replied to this. The spreadsheet-loving folks, too! It’s good to be heard. :-)

  23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    People with weird brains, how you doing? I had one day where I got a few phone calls and ended up doing nothing on my to do list, a day where I lost two hours ( I’m not sure what I was doing) and right now I can feel my brain swimming- on the day of the big deadline…

    1. Autumnheart*

      Considering how many neurotypical people are also dealing with executive dysfunction due to all the craziness going on, I’ve never felt so normal in my life!

      When I feel my brain going all over the place on a day where I really need to buckle down, I have 3 tools that usually do the trick:

      1. Caffeine
      2. To-do list
      3. Pomodoro technique

      The stimulant, the list of tasks and the short sprints with artificial urgency usually get me through it. I might not accomplish as much as I would on a good day, but I’ll usually at least hit the low end of a normal day.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea I got my coffee in me after that meeting that had my brain swimming. Now I’m doing my usual CONTEST! HOW FAST CAN YOU DO THE THING?!

    2. ecnaseener*

      I’m right there with you. Opened up my to-do list this morning and nothing was checked off from yesterday??? I’m sure I was working, I guess it was just a lot answering emails. Or maybe I deleted the completed tasks at the end of the day and forgot, idek.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oddly I find I get off track because I’ll be working on my to do list and then someone will email me with do this by 1 pm and it’s like noon or something. Or someone will call me and oh I need this and on and on until I have completely forgotten what work I was supposed to be doing

        1. ecnaseener*

          That doesn’t sound odd to me tbh, anybody would be thrown off if a new urgent thing interrupted what they were doing

    3. lost academic*

      This is how I feel when my ADHD is not being managed well for that day. I’ve been unable to take my support medication for years at this point due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. On some days all my other coping strategies sometimes just fail.

    4. Anax*

      Ugh, tired as heck. I’ve just gotten past my last Big Urgent Deadline for the next little while, my boss knows I’m on the edge of burnout, and I’m just waiting for the go-ahead to take a week off sometime soon. We have to coordinate coverage because EVERYONE is exhausted right now, ffs. So I don’t feel too bad about slacking off for the moment, I’m just fried.

      Oh, and if all these neurotypicals could understand that meetings, emails, and phone calls are The Worst, that would be great. :( My social spoons are allllll goooooone, I so hope I don’t have to chase down data from other teams any time soon.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        People will be like ” I totally multitask in meetings ” and Im like ” you can write something when people are talking and you could be CALLED ON at any time?!” It’s like my writing brain is BLOCKED. I also can’t do phone calls well when driving.

  24. Britta Perry*

    I changed departments 6 months ago–at the time I was told by my new supervisor that they wouldn’t be making any title/salary changes right then, because they wanted to bring me on quickly, and not deal with red tape, which could delay things for several weeks. They said they understood that salary was an important issue to me, and that it would be revisited during yearly reviews (typically in early June). I agreed to this. Now, I’m being put on another project within that same department–I’m excited about the actual work, but wondering if I should ask to have that title/salary conversation sooner because the source of funding for my salary is technically changing? Budgeting on that project is also being finalized right now. I don’t want to seem like I’m jumping the gun, but I don’t want to miss my opportunity either!

    1. Ya Girl*

      Definitely follow up! I would ask if the change in project affects the funding for your salary and if it makes sense to have that conversation now. Their answer will be telling!

    2. SparkleConsultant*

      I’ve been burned by promises like this before, so take this with a grain of salt.

      I think I would use this as an opportunity to put into writing the promise that was made to you about revisiting your salary in June (if you haven’t already done that). I would send an email to the supervisor shortly after the project change becomes real and mention that you were thinking about the change in funding source, and would this be a better time to make the salary and title adjustments you had planned for June?

      By putting the first promise and the ask in writing, you can get a better read on how likely they are to follow through with the first promise and document that it was made. Best case, you can have the adjustment discussion now and not miss a potential window of opportunity.

    3. Burnt eggs*

      Follow up! And I guess I would start with just what you said here, you don’t want to jump the gun or lose your opportunity, but a promise was made and as they are in budgeting, you want to be transparent.

  25. Hotdog not dog*

    I resigned from my job today (yay! On to new adventures!) to my manager. She said it is my responsibility to also resign to each of the 5 salespeople I support. I was planning to speak with each of them anyway, but some of them aren’t reachable today. Manager says my 2 weeks is from when the last salesperson is notified, which is likely going to add several days. My last day will be 2 weeks from today regardless (if they want to fire me for not coming in after I’ve quit, they can go right ahead), but is this a new thing? I’ve never heard of needing to resign to multiple people and counting from the last notification. I’m in the US in an at-will position, so to my understanding the 2 weeks notice is really just a courtesy anyway. Am I missing something?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You’re missing the fact that your boss is being a jerk.

      And you don’t need to speak with those salespeople. Your boss should be the one issuing the heads-up and transition plan. Absent that, it’s perfectly ok for you to send a blast email to the 5 of them.

      1. should i apply?*

        Agree on the boss being a jerk.
        It would be nice if you could talk to them in person, but if not I don’t see anything wrong with an email if can’t. The whole your notice doesn’t start thing is just bullshit.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        No, I didn’t miss that she’s trying to extend me…(she’s actually a very nice person, but not a good manager.) They’re already short staffed, so losing admin support for 5 more people is going to cause her headaches. Which is not my problem. Company makes their business decisions and I make mine. It’s been 25+ years since I resigned, so she caught me off guard with this “rule”. I hadn’t heard of it before, apparently because it doesn’t exist! I think I’m going to call the ones I can call, email the rest, and focus on wrapping up my work until May 14th.

        1. Fran Fine*

          That’s what I would do. This is not a thing, and you’re not doing anything wrong by sending a quick “Farewell” email to everyone you support.

    2. Rick T*

      Your manager is full of beans, your notice period isn’t under her control.
      I’d consider sending a single email to all reps you support TODAY to meet her rather insane belief.

      1. Observer*

        I would not do anything to support her belief.

        I WOULD send them an email out of courtesy to them, though. It’s the decent thing to do and it could help avoid crating a false bad impression with them.

    3. Amber Rose*

      No, your manager is being ridiculous. Your last day is the day you tell them will be your last day.

      That’s why rather than saying “this is my two weeks” it’s probably better to say something like, “I’m leaving this position, my last day will be X.”

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I actually did phrase it as, “I’m resigning, and my last day will be May 14th.” I didn’t want there to be any ambiguity.

    4. irene adler*

      Um, your manager is trying to put off your last day as long as possible.
      Points for creativity on her part; but no, your notice is to your manager. And your last day is the day you indicated to her. You don’t even have to give a full 2 weeks if you want. It’s a courtesy as you indicated. You can quit right now. Course, that won’t sit well with your manager and would adversely affect any reference she’s likely to give.

      You might check the employee manual to make sure there isn’t something in there that indicates something unique to your position. But that’s a long shot.

    5. Zephy*

      LMAO no, your last day is the date you told her. The salespeople don’t sign your checks. You could leave now if you wanted to.

    6. Observer*

      Your manager is making stuff up.

      Let her know when your last day is. Don’t discuss. If she tries telling you that you “can’t” stop working on the say you said, just repeat that this IS your last day and walk away. Put it in an email so she can’t claim she did not know.

      And, I would cc both your grandboss and someone in HR if you have HR.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I, too, would copy grandboss and an HR rep (if applicable) on my email to the manager reiterating my resignation and last day purely as a CYA move. If your manager ends up being pettier than you thought, she could always tell them you left early and didn’t actually serve a full two weeks – this makes it so she can’t do that.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      Utter and complete bullsh*t from your manager. I hope you will be very happy away from her nonsense.

    8. SomebodyElse*

      Did you copy your HR on your resignation? If you have, then you’ve resigned. If it’s a bridge you don’t want to burn and play nice, then just email all of the sales people at once and copy your manager and HR… job done.

    9. Ashley*

      Seriously I would interrupt their personal day off or whatever to send a text and email to notify them. You can notify someone and they could take days or weeks to acknowledge respond. This is absurd! You may want to loop in someone outside of your manager (HR/ their manager) to advise them of your last day and you will do your best to reach out but your last day is your last day.

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

      Notify HR too ASAP just in case she “forgets” because there is usually some paperwork you’ll need and you might want to flag any retaliation for them — make sure they agree that you gave proper notice.

      1. Observer*

        Even then – notice is given to one’s manager not to everyone that someone interacts with. Manager is making stuff up to reduce her headache.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Oh, BTW, I tend to send notices Cc: to one level above (or in some sense overseeing) my actual manager. That could be their boss, or HR. Juuuuust to make sure it’s registered.

  26. Nea*

    Anybody else here read Ask Amy? I ask because the first letter in today’s Ask Amy column is titled “Employee uses PTO to go AWOL” but the actual question is “Am I wrong in thinking that employees should respectfully ask their supervisors for permission to take time off?” in an complaint that OP’s employee – who is otherwise excellent according to OP and does not abuse PTO – simply informs OP when she is taking time off.

    Amy is far more sympathetic than anyone around here would be.

    1. JM in DC*

      I read the Ask Amy today, and I don’t usually agree with her, or find her advice lacking (I prefer Carolyn Hax). I feel if the employee is a good, reliable worker (which is what it sounded like in the letter), and there weren’t coverage issues (such as cashier, bank teller, etc.) then why do they need to be treated like a child for this? I felt the manager was micromanaging on this issue. It is the staff’s own benefit, they don’t abuse it, and if it becomes an abusive pattern, such as bailing for important meetings, then sit and talk to them. But this was not indicated in the letter. All my past micromanagers have asked for what Amy suggested – approve leave beforehand a certain number of days, even for leaving work for one hour. My current boss, excellent, only recommends this when we will leave an extended period of time, such as vacation.

      1. londonedit*

        I haven’t read the column, but I agree with this. I think it’s one of those things that really marks out when you’re working for a reasonable manager/company – work should be a business transaction, with the employee providing their skills and knowledge to the company in exchange for salary and benefits. You shouldn’t have to bow and scrape to your boss in order to be allowed to use the holiday time you’ve earned, they should treat their employees like adults.

        Of course, there need to be procedures in place around holiday and respect is also a two-way street – employees need to give adequate notice and make sure their work is up to date before they go, and/or that they have some means of cover in place as much as possible. But it should absolutely be fine to say ‘Hi, Boss – I’m planning to take the week of 31st May as holiday, let me know if that causes any problems’ rather than having to ask for permission.

      2. A*

        100%. This is something that has always irked me. If I end up working for a manager that has a strong preference than fine – I’ll ask permission first. Otherwise I just let them know I am taking XYZ days off, let me know if there is an issue.

        That being said, I’m in a position that doesn’t require coverage for 1 week or less of PTO and am also a top performer. I’d be a little less inclined to be as bold as I am in my approach if I didn’t have leverage.

        For me it really is just about the point of the matter. It’s not a huge deal to have to ask first – but… what is the purpose? Is there a business justification? If so, I’m all for it. But if it’s just a power play / micro management style – that’s a hard no. I’m a firm believer that employees should be given as much freedom and flexibility as possible, and if there are concerns about it being abused that should be addressed directly with the individuals.

    2. Zephy*

      I’m an adult. I’m not asking my boss for permission to be out, I’m telling her that I won’t be in on such-and-such day. PTO is part of my compensation package and I’m using it as normal and intended.

      1. Zephy*

        to clarify – I have no relation to the Ask Amy OP or their employee, just sharing my perspective on PTO as an employee.

      2. SaladSandwich*

        Strongly agree. My usual script is “I have an appointment Friday afternoon so I’ll need to leave at 1. Thanks.” For vacation it’s more along the lines of “I’d like to take vacation the last week of June, let me know if X dates don’t work” because I can often be flexible, but I’m still telling them I’m using my PTO, not ‘respectfully asking.’

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah I usually go with something like “if that works, I’ll put it on the calendar” just to give my manager an opening to say it doesn’t work. I can maybe see the frustration with employees who never give that kind of opening, in a role where coverage matters. (I definitely don’t think it has to be an always thing though. If I can’t come to work on X date I’ll say I can’t. If I’m thinking X date would be a good day to take off, I’ll leave the opening for “actually i meant to invite you to an important meeting that day” or whatever.)

        2. StaplesLike*

          Funny, I just send mine a meeting invite labeled my_name PTO. He can either accept or reject there. I have never had one rejected, but my boss is pretty awesome.

        3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          Same here. We have a PTO request in our system, so I just submit the request and email my manager letting them know I’m submitting the request “if that works,” etc. Not asking for permission. They can approve or not. But they have always approved.

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

        I agree with you Zephy. I’m not sure where you are located, but I’m in California, and it is legally my earned compensation. I don’t ask my boss for permission to spend my paycheck and I don’t ask “may I” for my PTO either. I do look at the shared calendar to make sure I’m not creating a problem — my boss has indicated that our department of 4 can’t all be out at once if we can avoid it.

        I saw the Ask Amy today and thought she skirted the real question.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      I have some sympathy for the manager that the employee lets manager know the day of, but manager doesn’t explain if it causes any issues (lack of coverage, something needs to get done by end of day). But yeah I don’t need to “respectfully ask” for vacation…. bit of an attitude there.

      1. Hush42*

        As a manager I don’t need to be *asked* but I do need employees to bear in mind that someone else might have already scheduled a vacation during that time, which would mean that they cannot also schedule a vacation during that time. This means that I might be required to say no to their request for PTO, regardless of whether it’s phrased as a question or not. Thankfully, my team knows this and I have yet to have to say no in the 4 years I’ve been a manager. We also have 1 week a year that is a black out date where they’re not allowed to take time off, short of an emergency. But we make that clear up front when they’re hired and I put it in the team calendar to remind them and again it’s never been an issue. Because I hire adults who understand that they don’t need to *ask* but also that there are certain times when I need all hands on deck or when someone else is already in vacation

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      I saw that and thought about how Allison would answer. I think the first question would be “does this cause any problems in terms of work getting done or coverage?” If not, let it go. All of the professional jobs I’ve worked at have used “inform” rather than “request” basis. Now, when I was in retail, that was different due to coverage issues.

      1. JustaTech*

        That was also my thought; the manager indicated the answer would always be yes, so why should the employee couch their plans to use PTO as a question rather than as a statement?

        When I plan PTO I usually email my boss with “I’ll be out date-date. Is that going to create issues?” But also usually for any long PTO I’ve talked about it before I even put it on the calendar, so I know it will be fine.

    5. Ama*

      The only time I have ever asked permission to take time off is when I need to take time off at a time when I’d normally be expected to be in the office — for example, many years ago I worked at a university, and a family member was getting married on the other side of the country on a day I normally would be expected to be at work for new student orientation. So that time I did approach it as “is it okay if I do this” because I wanted to make it clear to my boss that I knew it was a big deal to ask for time off that day and if it wasn’t family and a wedding I wouldn’t be asking. All other times I’ve just said “I’m going to take these days off, I’ll make sure X is prepared to cover for me,” and been done with it.

    6. Tricksie*

      Totally agree that Amy’s answer on this really reinforces the work hierarchy and makes it seem like an employee doesn’t have the right to use PTO. I realize that office conventions can vary and that there can be reasons PTO doesn’t work at certain times. BUT I usually email my boss and say something like, “Unless there’s a problem with it, I need to take X dates off for vacation time. Please let me know if that doesn’t work.” If there’s no negotiating (like a husband’s upcoming surgery schedule), I say, “I will need to be out of the office on X date for (non negotiable reason). Thanks for understanding.”

    7. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends on the organization.

      Our policy is that time off has to be approved – BUT we have a system which means everyone can see availability staff can’t see why someone else is off, just who is in or out on specific dates) and they are asked to check coverage within their own department before requesting time off, so it’s extremely rare for a request to be declined, but it is the case that you are asking not telling.

      I’ve never worked anywhere where that wasn’t the case (although I’ve always working in jobs where a minimum level of coverage is needed)

      I do think expecting it be be ‘asking respectfully’ is a bit much. A quick – “I’d like to take this afternoon off, I don’t have any meetings booked and Wayne and Waynetta are both in so there’s plenty of coverage, I’d plan to go at 1 if that’s OK” should be fine.

      We don’t have a policy of any specific time frame, but the policy does flag up that it may not be possible to approve requests made at short notice so it is recommended to ask in advance wherever possible.

    8. Girasol*

      That question struck me. There are some offices where non-emergency PTO needs to be scheduled a certain amount of time in advance to assure that there’s adequate coverage. But there are companies who treat PTO like an unearned privilege that must be begged for instead of as part of normal compensation, and I wondered if this was that sort of a company.

    9. Magc*

      I saw that and thought the exact same thing: every job I’ve had, PTO must be requested and doing so two days in advance in no way guarantees that you’ll be allowed to take the time off. Even when I’ve had a really good relationship with my manager, I never assume my PTO requests will be granted, and I think a lot of employers would consider her actions grounds for termination.

      1. Magc*

        When I started my reply, no one else had answered, so I found it really interesting that my view is in the minority. Almost all of my bosses have treated me like an adult, and it’s been exceedingly rare that my requests have not been granted.

        That said, the first half of my career was spent in a large medical center where the department I worked in was part of the hospital, and I suspect that colored my attitude. The second half has been in smaller medical organizations where my skills are usually not replicated, so making sure there’s coverage while being reachable while on vacation has always been a given.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, I also work for a medical center in a non-patient-facing role, and the institution-wide PTO policy is that you need to request in advance and get manager approval, because coverage is obviously really important in a hospital. My office’s written policy is that you should request 2 weeks in advance, but the first time I said to my manager “sorry it’s such short notice but can I take a day off next week” she was like LOL don’t apologize that’s plenty of notice.

          So, yes I think your view is probably colored by the official policy you’re used to. A reasonable manager should view this in terms of whether it actually poses a problem for the employee to be out that day; if no, then who cares if it’s phrased as a request

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yes, I think that in organizations where staffing level and coverage are high on the manager’s (and team’s!) radar it is perfectly normal that you *request* PTO. If every PTO period has to be checked against everyone else’s then it would not be collegial to just inform.

          Many jobs are like that, but quite a few others aren’t. At one end you have jobs where people have a lot of autonomy and are expected to factor their planned PTO into deadlines they commit to. As long as they hit the deadlines there’s no impact on the rest of the team. At the other end, you have jobs where fluctuation of staffing levels is a normal occurrence, people keep being reassigned, and/or union rules have installed the culture that PTO bookings are impersonal (possibly managed by an automated system) and a right.

          Regardless, what seems important to me is that the overall vibe is “PTO is important, and the normal situation is that every team member gets to take 100% of their annual PTO at a time that is convenient to them”. This should be the case whether you are supposed to ask for it or not.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I definitely think it’s a know your arena type thing. Telling a boss that you are taking PTO in retail could get you fired. Manufacturing and other arenas you ask, you don’t tell them.

        One frequent problem I have seen is a person will tell a boss about their PTO request and then the boss complains to OTHERS that the requester did not ask but rather “demanded”. Uh, why not just tell the requester what the problem is here?

        Another problem I have seen is that bosses fail to plan for PTO. One place I worked we gained one more PTO day each year. Because we had been there a while, all total our department had 8 months of PTO combined. So for 8 months out of the year we could be working short a person. Shockingly, NO ONE developed a plan for this and it lead to all kinds of fighting and arguing.

        I often see the counter-point here, ” I am an adult and I am NOT asking for time off.” Not all bosses are trying to reduce their adult employees to children. Projects and scheduling PTO can be a big deal for some work settings. I do think however that if an employee politely asks that the boss should be very respectful in replying. This is no place for sarcasm, taunting, bullying etc. And I do see a lot of that also which probably drives the “I am an adult” response we see so often here.

    10. Malarkey01*

      I’ve always had jobs where you just put it on the calendar and say I’m planning on taking a week starting June 15th. The only exception was when I was taking a little over 3 weeks and then changed it to I was planning to take June 1-24 for a big trip. Do you see any problem with the timing?

      1. Momma Bear*

        We use a timekeeping system that allows you to request days off and corporate policy is that unless it’s sudden, you request it that way in advance. Your manager is expected to discuss any problems with you. It is less nitpicking your time and more knowing when you will be out. I have never had a reasonable PTO request turned down, but I also don’t (example) pick a week in the middle of busy season.

        Part of the whole PTO thing is knowing your boss and working with them on the notification that works best for your team/company. If what the employee is doing isn’t working for the company culture, then the manager should talk to them about it. If someone’s PTO requests are never granted, then that is a discussion to be had as well. PTO is well-deserved and employees should be allowed to use it as reasonable.

    11. allathian*

      I’m just glad that all my boss wants is for me and my coworker who does the same job to coordinate our scheduled time off with each other and she’ll sign off on it. If one of us is on vacation and the other gets sick, it’s her responsibility to arrange coverage.

    12. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      This is pretty much how my manager handles time off. Not sure about the larger org or the company at large. I’m sure individual managers have individual preferences. But if I need to leave at 1 PM today and it was a last minute thing, I’d just inform my team that I wouldn’t be available. It would be my responsibility to NOT be gone if it were a non emergency at a highly critical time. For advance leave, all we do is confirm with other team members that all were ok with my being OOF during that window. This isn’t even a big deal until we get to the end of the year with holidays and lots of people who are at the ‘use it or lose it’ point with PTO. We try to avoid having all of us out at the same time if possible but sometimes, the majority are gone at year end. So I think that the manager just has panties in a wad over a non issue. If it’s not causing any other issues such as staffing shortages or missing critical deadlines, I’d just chalk it up to a difference in communication style and move on. If it is an issue, the manager can push back and say hey, I really need you here this afternoon because of X, can you reschedule whatever you need to be gone for to a better window?

    13. tamarack and fireweed*

      Not having read that other column…

      It depends.

      Case 1: Is the sign-off of the manager a pure formality or maybe not even required?
      1a. Is there no business impact at all? –> You inform.
      1b. Is there some minor business impact (eg. you take a Monday off, which means the weekly report you prepare every Monday would arrive on Tuesday)? –> You give a heads-up and await objections/a discussion on how to mitigate the impact.
      1c. Is there some major business impact, but it still would be not in the manager’s to prevent you from taking the desired PTO (by law, by the employee handbook, by union rules) (eg. you want to take a week off that you’re scheduled for taking a significant role in a planned event) ? –> Similar to above, but you acknowledge that it’s inconvenient.

      Case 2: There is a culture of the manager authorizing each PTO request, with the real possibility of denial (at least of dates).
      2a. No or minor business impact. –> You inform the manager of your request.
      2b. Major business impact of your absence (taken on its own terms). –> You should ask and be prepared to argue a little bit. There are companies where PTO during a time where you would normally be expected to take on a particularly important role would be denied if there are other weeks available before some PTO deadline and you can’t offer a reason (eg. family obligation), which otherwise would not be required .
      2c. Is the authorization about coordinating coverage within the team? –> “I would like to take days XYZ off. Are these still available on our team coverage roster?”

      Managers should not expect performative deference around that beyond rules that are transparent, just, and grounded in business reasons.

    14. TheAG*

      The only time I “ask” is if it’s very short notice or I know there might be other complications (other people out, etc).

      1. TheAG*

        Oh and when I’m asking, it’s not just my manager it’s the whole team, and we all do it just to make sure everyone’s ok.

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

      I hadn’t read Ask Amy before this but searched out the specific column you referred to. I agree with Amy’s response in general & depending on what ‘respectfully’ means in this context (is it “deferential” or is it just more of a courtesy and acknowledgement that the manager doesn’t have to say yes) it seems right to ask ‘respectfully’. “Informing” the manager that you will be off at a certain time pre-empts their answer… I think it has to be a practical thing as much as anything else, such as if the manager is aware of something that you’re not aware of yet which would need you to be around on those days.

      We have a computerised system with each person’s number of days available to take and it sends the request etc but it’s kind of understood that you will unofficially agree it with manager / whoever else you need to liaise with (project teams etc) before formally putting it in the system.

  27. Jo*

    Link in comment below, but Oliver Wyman (management consultancy) published a paper this week about how to get more women in leadership (that could also broadly be applied to increasing diversity in leadership in general) that I thought made some really interesting points that might help people who have posted on here in the recent past.

    The themes broadly covered were:

    First: Leadership is the same game with different rules
    Second: Results don’t speak for themselves
    Third: Qualified women are unintentionally left on the sidelines
    Fourth: Implicit biases and microaggressions are exhausting

    1. TheAG*

      Really good stuff!! What’s funny is they’re talking about CEOs and I’m replacing “C suite” in my head with Sr. Manager…then thinking wow the glass ceiling where I work is just that much lower. :(

  28. Goodbye & Thanks For All The Fish*

    Is there any “good” way to say goodbye and getting a closure with your soon-to-be ex-boss and teammates? My partner got accepted into a great program and we’re heavily leaning on moving back to her hometown, which means that I’ll have to quit my current job. Though I currently WFH 75% of the time, our founder has explicitly stated that she’d want everyone to eventually go back to the office.

    I’ll be leaving behind my very overworked boss and team members who I’ve genuinely became good work friends with. They’re some of the kindest people I’ve met and I’m honestly really sad I have to quit. But I’m really feeling guilty about leaving when our organization, which is a small non-profit that’s been suffering from a lot of resignations and where my boss is super stressed out and heavily leans on my support. I honestly respect my boss a lot and hope to still keep her as a good reference (and be able to still keep in touch!) but I’m afraid of how she’ll react when I turn in my 2 weeks. Not because she’ll be angry, but more so I know she’ll be happy for me but also be terrified at all of the stuff she has to take over for me. Also, I was only able to stay for around a year into this job – I didn’t expect to have to move at all since I thought our family would set up roots here (thanks covid!)

    Is there anything I can do, other than create manuals and videos for my tasks so my boss and any future employee can watch it as reference? Should I give everyone a goodbye letter and gift? I always feel guilty when I work in a team where everyone’s overworked but always trying their best, since we believe in the company’s mission and values :( Feels like I’m leaving them behind to fend for themselves….

    1. annoyed ex-english major*

      Is it worth asking if you can go full WFH and continue working with them after the move? Or even to WFH 100% for a few months after you move to ease the transition and train the new person they hire? Even if the answer is no, perhaps that will soften the blow by showing that you’re looking for solutions. And it could give you extra time to find your next position.

    2. Ali G*

      Maybe you thought of this already, but WFH is not the same as being a fully remote employee. The boss assumes everyone is local and therefore wants them all in the office. But maybe your boss would want to keep you on and make the case to Big Boss that you should be able to be remote. Just something to consider if you haven’t!
      Otherwise, no it sucks. We leave jobs at inconvenient times. It’s just how it is.

      1. Hush42*

        This. You know your work situation better than we do and will have to decide whether or not it’s worth asking. My company has made the decision to not allow WFH full time after we officially reopen the offices (which keeps getting pushed back but is currently scheduled for October). Employees will be allowed 1 WFH day each week with the expectation that they are in the office the other 4 days. WFH while sick or during inclement weather (we’re in the snowiest city in the continental US- yay us…) is at manager discretion. Despite all of that I had an employee come to me a few weeks ago and let me know that she and her husband made the decision to move to Florida. I did everything I could to get an exception made because I really didn’t want to lose her. The executives of my company got together this week and made the decision to make an exception for her. So she will be allowed to work remotely full time from Florida, even after we reopen.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I read that as ‘WFH if you get sick so no PTO is needed but no co-workers get infected.”

    3. Reba*

      If you can give a longer notice period than 2 weeks, which it sounds like you would, that would be a kindness. I also agree with annoyed that transitioning to fully remote or consulting on some things after the move is well worth discussing!

      Don’t give people gifts, IMO, but do feel free to write nice notes about how lovely they are to work with. “Kindest people I’ve met” — yes! The “I’m so sorry to leave you like this” stuff, i.e. your sense of guilt — no.

      Leaving a job you like is emotionally complex; you may never feel “closure” about it (I don’t think that’s a reasonable goal!) but you can feel good when you have done the best you can with hard stuff.

      1. Goodbye & Thanks For All The Fish*

        Those are great points about the notes and the emotionally complex part about it… My background/culture has a big gift-giving component but I should definitely keep in mind that American workplace culture might cause my teammates to feel a little uncomfortable. I just feel bad that such a great non-profit (I love the overall mission!) has been hit with such bad luck and all of our team members are being stretched so thin.

        I’ve been previously recommended to NOT give more than 2 weeks notice but I’ll reconsider it and maybe give them a heads up 3 weeks prior? We already had another team member leave recently so I hate causing even more of a burden :(

        1. Reba*

          As long as you can trust that you won’t be pushed out/asked to leave sooner than you want to, the earlier you can share the news the better it will feel to your manager.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Just leave your work in the best possible condition and document as much of your institutional knowledge as you can. Your leaving isn’t personal.

      The harsh flip side of this is that you are not responsible for this organization being understaffed and having its workload vs. funding out of balance.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Agree with the previous comments about giving more than 2 weeks notice if you can, and/or seek to stay on remotely for some time after your move – either permanent WFH if that’s your desire, or a couple months to create transition time and perhaps even help train your replacement. As a manager, I’d appreciate both those things and it would help solidify me as a your reference for your next job.

      1. Goodbye & Thanks For All The Fish*

        Unfortunately, I’ve decided (with my partner’s support of course!) that I’ll be taking a small mental health break so no work for a month or so. But I would definitely be down to help train my replacement, which might take 2-3 months TBH given how slow recruiting is. Maybe I can volunteer my time or do it as freelance? I honestly don’t mind training the new hire for free if it’s for a few hours total.

        1. None The Wiser*

          Not for free. Your labor is a commodity. In your position, given your sympathy for your boss, I would offer to work remotely for a period to ease the transition. If you want to take a break, make that part of your offer. “I need some personal time, but would be willing to work remotely for a period (x number of months, up to you) in order to smooth the transition.”

  29. Amber Rose*

    I’ve been here an hour and a half and all I’ve managed to do is order lunch. And my stomach hurts because it was stressful. I mean, to qualify that statement I ordered lunch for the shareholders, from a place I recommended, with the company card, on my Skip account. But STILL.

    I didn’t sleep last night either, I gave up at 3 and read until it was time to get dressed, so that’s how my Friday is going.

    I don’t know how much more I can handle. I’m at BEC with existence, and every activity is way more stressful than it should be.

    1. Bucky Barnes*

      This is so me this week. Everything has been an effort and everything has been driving me crazy. I think part of it is because I’m finally taking a week off next week. And I did sleep last night but I didn’t rest. I was still exhausted when I got up.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      awww baby…I’m sorry. Don’t you just want to cry when you can’t sleep like that? Ugh. Luckily, the shareholders will only eat their lunch and not you. Feel better, Amber Rose. You’re a champion.

  30. Tears for Fears*

    I work in a small office and sit with 2 other people. (There are 7 total including my boss.) It’s awkward because the other 2 people that I sit with don’t always greet me. (I still greet them though.) My job is separate from theirs, so we don’t have to work together on anything. It’s just awkward because there are 3 of us stuck in a room together all day.

    It’s the type of environment where they just expect you to magically know things, then yell at you if you get it wrong.
    I try to help my coworkers out, but they don’t return the favor when I need something.

    No one else seems to be bothered by this, so I feel like I’m freaking out over nothing, but is this right? Has anyone been in a situation like this? What did you do?

    1. Observer*

      This sounds toxic as all get out. And I think it will be good for your mental health to recognize it.

      I also think it would be good for your mental health to start formulating an exit plan. Either start looking for a new job or figure out what you need to do to make yourself more eligible for the kind of job you want.

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

      If you hadn’t included that last bit about being expected to just know things and not getting help when you need it, I’d tell you not to take it personally if everyone doesn’t greet you each morning. I’m sometimes in such a fog in the morning that it might take me an hour or two to recognize other human beings exist, but I don’t hate them and I’m not making any statement by not chirping good morning at them. I’m probably just trying to focus on coffee goes in a cup.

    3. RagingADHD*

      When you say they don’t return the favor, do you mean they refuse to answer follow up questions? Or they refuse to assist when asked?

      It’s hard to tell whether this is really toxic, or if there’s an ask/guess thing going on, where it would behoove you to speak up more.

        1. LDF*

          And on the flipside, you say your jobs are separate but also that you try to help out. Is anyone explicitly asking for help and then not returning the favor when you explicitly ask for help? Would things be easier for you if you just didn’t proactively offer to help out?

          I would focus on how to get an outcome you can live with instead of what is “right”.

          1. Tears for Fears*

            There is some overlap and I do have to help them at times. (ie: I label teapots and if they need a teapot label, I have to assign a label, etc.)

    4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      It’s never acceptable to yell at anyone. And if they’re yelling at people for not knowing something they expect them to magically know, I highly recommend finding a new job and getting out of there, if you can.

  31. McMurdo*

    I’m graduating with a STEM degree in a month! Woohoo!

    But I don’t have a job lined up, which I know is common in general, but not common at my school. Honestly, I’m not freaking out as much as I thought I would, but I would like to have a plan in case nothing materializes. [I do have interviews, and I have been applying, but nothing is guaranteed!]

    So far, my thoughts are:
    (1) Take a couple weeks to relax. I’ve been studying or working without a break for the last 8 years.
    (2) Continue an independent project I started this semester, which can easily be done outside the school and which is related to my field.
    (3) Study for a certification that is very relevant to my field but takes a lot of effort that I can’t give during the school year.
    (4) Volunteer with a local organization that’s already expressed interest in having me do technical things.

    Are there other things I can do to help land a job I’m actually interested in?

    1. McMurdo*

      Oh, also, I live with my very supportive parents, so I have a few months’ grace period before I’d need to get Any Job.

      1. SparkleConsultant*

        Congratulations! I think all the options you laid out are great! The hardest part for me from the transition out of school was finding a way to schedule to my time while I job searched. I think it can be helpful to set up something that is going on your resume right away, like the volunteer roles, even if most of your time will be spent on obtaining the certification, or your research project.

        It can be easier to search for a job when you have a role to list and when you have coworkers to help build your network and learn what is out there. Volunteering can give you both of these as well as something outside of work to balance your time when you get a paid position.

    2. Colette*

      I would prioritize 3 & 4; in most fields, and independent project will have less weight. And since you’re already interviewing, taking a couple of weeks to relax is fine; just be really dilligent about only having it be a couple of weeks – I know people who stopped job huning “for the summer” and never really got started again.

      1. TechWorker*

        Idk what bit of stem, but for programming jobs independent projects do indeed hold quite a bit of weight (probably less than significant volunteer experience, but possibly more than a random certification).

    3. TechWorker*

      Those all sound good – I think worth also bearing in mind that applying for jobs can itself take quite a bit of time! This time is quite lumpy though, so might lend itself better to #2 or #3 where you control the time vs volunteering where you need to put specific hours in.

    4. Nervous New Grad*

      Congrats as a fellow soon-to-be new grad! All of the above sound great – and honestly taking a break would be well-worth it after studying nonstop for so long! I know a friend of mine is planning to move back in with his parents for a year and take some time off, then job hunt.
      The only other thing I might add to your list that I can think of is, what about doing some networking? Maybe reaching out to some people on LinkedIn or social media who are in your desired field and ask them for advice, recommendations, etc? I did that a bit while I was job hunting and while most people never got back to me, others were extremely helpful with some awesome advice to give, even giving me feedback on my resume and providing examples.

  32. Panic*

    I’m in a panic because I’m having trouble getting in contact with one of my references. A company I have a second interview scheduled with asked me to provide four references who would be e-mailed a link to an online survey to fill out. I used two previous supervisors from jobs, one supervisor from an internship, and one coworker.

    The e-mail to one supervisor bounced back (it was his work e-mail address, so he must have changed jobs), and he didn’t respond to my initial text on Wednesday or my follow up text yesterday. Two co-workers I kept in contact with at that job haven’t kept in contact with him. His LinkedIn and FaceBook pages haven’t been updated in a few years–should I make accounts and try to connect anyway? I googled him, and a “US Phone Book” website that lists his cell phone number and address also lists a g-mail account. Would it be creepy to try the e-mail?

    Do I need to tell the company I’ll be interviewing that I haven’t been in contact with him since before Covid and haven’t been able to reach him? Or just wait and see if they ask? I have other jobs/internships listed on my resume, but of them, one of my supervisors died, one retired and no longer does references, and one I’m not comfortable contacting because they treated me horribly and I don’t trust them (their company also has a “no references policy” anyway).

    I’m worried I’m never going to be able to get a job again because I don’t have enough references now. Ugh!

    1. Spice for this*

      I totally understand. I have been in a similar situation. I think go ahead and email him and hopefully he responds.

    2. WellRed*

      do not set up accounts just to get in touch with him. If you can reasonably be expected to have his email or cell try that but otherwise, let this go. I get they asked for four references, but three should really suffice. Maybe if you explain he’s gone off the grid, so to speak?

    3. A*

      I’d say go ahead and send the email and see what happens. I ended up in this situation a few years before COVID (only a few days to get the references together, all had to fill out an online form/survey via the employers portal). I couldn’t get through to two of my references, one dropped off the map altogether and the other was off grid for several weeks.

      I ended up just leveling with the employer and explained the situation – turns out the four reference requirement was mostly a formality (note: I’m in a line of work that has national rankings etc. so performance can be confirmed in other ways). They ended up telling me to have someone/anyone fill out the other two just so it could get pushed through the system to the next step. I had my parents fill them out – which still makes me cringe, but the employer was on board… and I’ve been working for them for two years now so I’m glad I was transparent!

      I’d like to think employers would be even more understanding right now.

    4. Exhausted (no longer) Frontline Worker*

      Have you tried contacting Retired Boss? Retired =/= no longer able to give references and, even if it’s a personal policy, they might be willing to make an exception if you explain the situation and assure them this is a one-time ask.

      If that’s a no-go, I’d contact the company telling them you can’t get in touch with AWOL Boss and explore other options if they absolutely require having a fourth reference. Best options would be a grand boss or someone senior to you that managed a project you worked on or some other aspect of your work that wasn’t a supervisor. If you’re a relatively recent grad, you could get away with a supervisor in a part-time student job or thesis advisor if you had either of those. If none of those are options I’d ask a colleague who was a peer, a client if you’ve ever done freelance work, or a volunteer coordinator if you volunteer anywhere regularly. While none of those may be ideal, you are giving them two managers and no reasonable company should hold it against you, especially if you are new to the working world. Good luck!

  33. OmNomNomNymous*

    I’m looking for some advice on setting boundaries with my boss and the rest of my small organization (no HR) as the pressure increases to be back in the office full time. My company is convinced that they have been doing everything that they can for COVID safety but they have not been following CDC guidelines. The rules and plan seem to change every week. There are outdoor company gatherings that continued even when a coworker was recovering from COVID. (It was less than ten days after symptoms that I could witness on video calls. I didn’t go.) There was a proposal to have the office be a mask-free zone for people who have been vaccinated, which was thankfully amended quickly. When we go into the office, we are expected to do temperature checks, but there is no cleaning service, masks are taken off when people are on video meetings (which is most of the day), and my coworkers generally eat inside and together for lunch. I am new so pushing back has been taking up most of my little political capital. I eat lunch outside, and wear a mask during indoor video calls. I know that I am seen as ‘not a team player’ for taking these steps. I had to go to a client meeting which was promised to me as dinner outside in a park, and when I got there turned out to be indoor dining at a restaurant. I was only able to convince the group to move to outdoor seating at the restaurant (which I am uncomfortable with).

    We can do almost all of our jobs from home, but the structure so far has been a rotation between working from home and working in the office. We will soon have no WFH option. How can I set some boundaries to make my workplace safe when I can’t take breaks from being in the office anymore? How can I feel better about the whole situation?

    1. pancakes*

      It sounds like they straight-up lied to you about the restaurant. I’m not sure that there is an effective way to set boundaries with people who are that disrespectful, self-regarding, and unconcerned with safety, or to feel better about it. I would not feel better about this scenario unless and until I had a new job lined up. Being fully vaccinated would help me feel better in the meantime, of course, but I would not be able or willing to try to put that level of thoughtlessness out of mind.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. People are disgustingly selfish. I mean, I always knew that, but this pandemic just brought it all front and center.

    2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh my gosh, find a new job if you can. I hate people who are cavalier about the pandemic at work because they are basically telling you that they do not respect your health and safety. If they want to make their individual choices within reason, that is fine. But you should also be free to make yours. To force you to deal with other people’s relaxed attitudes towards safety measures is just wrong.

    3. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

      Anyone who accuses someone of not being a ‘team player’ for not being as cavalier about the pandemic as they are can pound sand. They’re the ones not being ‘team players’ because they’re disrespecting your decision to remain vigilant about protecting yourself.

  34. StartingOut*

    I just had an otherwise excellent performance review in which my boss said she’d like me to seek out external professional development for leadership. Where do I even start for this? My employer does offer some internal professional development courses, but they’re only offered to those who already manage others (I do not, but it’s clear my boss expects me to eventually). Is there recognized leadership-focused professional development that’s online?

      1. StartingOut*

        I wish this was the case! My position itself is a little odd, for example, if I worked in HR but my position is more administrative (but also not technically admin). There are clear professional orgs for HR, but technically I’m not HR so I don’t qualify.
        Part of my difficulty is because my role is very unique in my organization.

    1. TechWorker*

      It’s not a panacea but you could also consider whether there’s some possibility of getting some leadership experience as a volunteer, or on the committee of something you’re interested in.

    2. voyager1*

      I find this a bit sketchy. I would find out if the company is offering to pay. To me if a company was offering this, they would already have a program in mind.

      I hope I am wrong.

      1. StartingOut*

        Actually yes, my manager said she would get approval for cost. I think she wants me to research options for my own development, but I come from a different field that had Big Conferences and Built in Professional Development – looking for something on my own seems is very far from my comfort zone.

    3. Goddess47*

      It’s at least leadership-adjacent…look for your local Project Management Institute chapter (at least in the US). They have a *ton* of PM training online, a lot of it for only the cost of membership, and being able to lead projects can maybe help you lead people…

      And there’s lots of leadership info here at AAM… poke around and see what’s recommended.

      Good luck@

    4. Dancing Otter*

      American Management Association?
      An industry association, rather than HR-specific?
      MBA classes, if you think the company would go for that?

      1. None The Wiser*

        My company has sent me to AMA courses. They’re not bad. Another place to look is at online courses through a B-school.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One idea that could buy you a little time before a pricy conference/training might be to join Toastmasters. One of those less-mentioned leadership skills is being able to comfortably explain your position to a group.

  35. Elvis the Cat*

    I need some advice about job applications.

    Background: last year, I applied for a government position (a direct hire). I was selected for the initial interview which was held on Zoom with a panel. It was my first ever video interview so I was not practiced and it was also a government position so all the candidates were asked the same questions. I did not do well (in my opinion). I was not used to the format because I’m used to the interviews being more of a conversation like they ask a question, I say something and then I get the opportunities for follow ups and clarification. That was not how it was. Each panelist came on and ask the question and then moved on. I’m someone who takes a while to warm up and open up. I tried to do my follow ups in my thank you emails post-interview, but I worry that I might have over done it. I was given the opportunity to ask my own questions at the end of the interview and I think I did well on that part. Anyway, I was not selected to move further to round two as they closed the position and hired someone else. I was eventually notified. Also may be relevant is that the position was open for two different grades. I’m definitely qualified for the lower grade, but said that I would only accept the hire grade offer because the lower grade would mean a significant pay cut and I was not ready to do that last year. I think I’m marginal for the higher grade, having done research on my peers.

    My problem: more openings in the same position has opened up (also direct hire). I plan to apply again and would be willing to accept the lower grade position because I have realized that I rather do a job I find meaningful than keep a job that pays better. If I ever want a job in the government, I will have to take the cut anyway. My problem is that it’s the same hiring manager. Do I tell him I’m applying again? If so, what do I say? Possible routes – 1) I know I did poorly last time because I wasn’t used to the format, but take another chance on me? 2) I’m still interested in the position, so can you tell me more? I’m now interested in the lower grade (if it mattered) because my circumstances have changed. But since it’s a government position, he probably can’t tell me whether to bother not applying. 3) Not contact them at all because by applying I will show interest. I assume they wouldn’t want to be bother by a rejected candidate and be harassed and messaging would only annoy them. The last time I was in touch with the hiring manager was asking for an update for round 2 timeline and he said they were in the process of getting their top group through first. I took that as signal that I would not be moving on and got the automatic rejection months later.

    What do you think? Should I bother emailing the hiring manager and what do I say? For those who have hired for government position, what is your opinion? And do you have any advice on the video interviews and answering the questions?

    1. Reba*

      Well, definitely don’t write to them about how badly you think you did! :)

      I’d go with a modified 2 — let them know you’re applying again, and you’re now open to either GS level if it’s a fit. Modified = not asking them to “tell you more,” it’s just an FYI with no expectation that they will interact with you at this stage.

      For video interviews and panel interviews of this style, yes it’s so tough! I would say just practice a lot, record yourself or do it in front of a mirror. Good luck.

    2. county worker*

      Pick option 3!

      I work in government and it’s really common to do what you’re doing here. They see it all the time and there’s no need to flag it. Applying is enough.

      Panel interviews are rough. I’ve bombed one in the past, applied again, and got the job. You’ll be better prepared this time. Good luck to you!

    3. BRR*

      I think it’s fine to email the hiring manager you’re applying again. You don’t know if you were rejected because of the candidate pool or because you were only interested in the higher position or something else. I would say you saw the posting and after interviewing last time you’re very interested in the work/position/dept etc and include some line how say you realize after interviewing you might be a stronger fit for the lower grade or something. Don’t say you did bad. Interviewees often think they did worse than they actually did.

  36. Spearmint*

    I recently found out a friend has been lying about being sick to his employer so he can take extra paid time off. Normally I’d say this is super unethical, but given the particular details about this friend’s situation, I feel torn.

    My friend, who I’ll call Jay, works the graveyard shift at a large retail chain you’ve heard of. The pay is barely a living wage, and the benefits are extremely sparse. Jay has worked there for almost 2 years but gets only 5 days of PTO per year (that’s combined sick and vacation time). Jay has a hard life, and I’m very sympathetic to his situation. He’s poor, taking college classes part-time, and living with other poor relatives in very cramped living conditions, including a sickly grandmother who has been in and out of the hospital. At the same time, he has had issues with maintaining a consistent work ethic in work and school, though given his circumstances I can understand why.

    Anyway, the pandemic happened but Jay still had to go into work because he was an essential worker. However, his company instituted a policy that anyone with possible covid symptoms had to stay home for a week, even if you test negative and this time off would be paid. So on two separate occasions in the past 4 months, Jay has lied to his employer about having a fever to get a paid week off. He also actually had covid back in February, so he has taken 3 paid weeks off of sick time since the new year.

    On the one hand, I normally don’t think it’s ethical to lie about being sick to get time off. On the other hand, his employer is so massive they won’t be hurt by it and I think it’s outrageous that my friend works full time and only receives 5 PTO days a year, and he is in a difficult situation. Either way, I’m not going to talk to him about it, it’s his decision, but I’m wondering what you all think.

    1. Amber Rose*

      It’s not ethical, but neither is underpaying and poorly treating your employees. So I would call this understandable.

      “Always forbidden, sometimes necessary.”

    2. Temperance*

      What he’s doing is unethical, and will very likely lead to the paid time off for COVID-19 symptoms ending for his colleagues, who might actually need his help. It doesn’t matter that his employer is a huge corporation; and really, he’s shooting himself in the foot because they WILL fire him when they find out.

      I also don’t necessarily agree with you that his bad work ethic is due to “his circumstances”. I grew up similarly to Jay, and knew that my only ticket out was by working hard, getting an education, and moving away. I call this “the soft bigotry of low expectations”, where those of us with less-than-ideal childhoods are stigmatized with low expectations.

          1. Amber Rose*

            Having worked for Walmart… no. No I don’t. I walked out one day and never went back. It took them two weeks to realize it. And then they just called to ask if I was coming in.

            You think they care? You’re giving them too much credit.

            1. Liane*

              What Amber Rose said. I have a similar true story.

              My husband worked there overnights for about a year, but after the good manager that hired him moved stores, he got stuck with the Sucky Manager* at that store. He was also struggling with health problems and had several absences due to that. He told me after the last series of call-outs, “They’re firing me for sure for being out so much, I’m done” and didn’t go back. Weeks later, another, decent manager saw me and talked to me.
              Other Manager: What’s up with Husband, why’d he stop coming in?
              Me: Got let go because of occurrences [call-outs] from what he told me.
              Other Manager: Fired? Who told him he was fired?
              Me: [Sucky Manager’s Name], I guess? Because she is Overnight AM. You could call Husband and ask him what went on, or I’ll tell him to call and ask for you.

              *I worked customer service there for years, and the stupid, sucky wench was Front End AM (aka my boss) several times, so I have both firsthand experience plus standing to say that; seriously she checked most of the boxes on the Garden-Variety Bad Manager List

      1. Stumped*

        I love your example of soft bigotry of low expectations and it’s worthy of a larger discussion because it’s a very real phenomenon.

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t at all agree that Jay would be at fault if his employer decides to require people to come in regardless of whether they’ve been exposed to covid or not. That would be extremely irresponsible of them whatever the underlying motivation is. I don’t think trying to scare the Jays of the world into accepting terrible working conditions by threatening them with worse conditions is well-considered or likely to be successful, either.

      1. Slipping The Leash*

        Yeah, I can’t help but mentally classify this as “stickin’ it to the man.”

    3. Violet*

      It’s hard. What his company is doing is unethical. And the man actually had Covid. He should have had 14 days off just to socially distance after that.

      I think this company’s workers should unionize. Some states will and some won’t. But Jay has too much on his plate to be at the center of unionizing. Where I’m at on it is: I’m glad he took the time off and is still alive.

      I don’t know how to sort out ethics in face of his very real physical life and the conglomerate that doesn’t care at all for his life and others’ lives like his that make them millions.

      1. Spearmint*

        I should clarify that I think the policy is 1 week for symptoms if you have a negative test, but 10-14 days for a positive test. I think he took off 1.5 weeks when he had actually had covid, and was only allowed back when symptom free for three days, per CDC guidelines.

        But yeah, I’m with you on unions, though there are structural factors that make that hard in the modern US…

    4. Observer*

      Basically what you are saying is that it’s ok to lie and steal – which is what he is doing because his employer is big and not all that ethical.

      You are not unique in that belief. But at least own it.

      1. Spearmint*

        I think lying is usually wrong, and I wouldn’t have lied in his shoes, but I think him lying might be understandable and not *as* worthy of negative judgement given his situation and employer (but still some).

        1. Temperance*

          He doesn’t have some big, noble reason, though. He just … doesn’t want to go to work, and he’s exploiting a program designed to protect his coworkers and the public to do so.

          It is NOT understandable that he’s lying about COVID symptoms to sit around.

      2. pancakes*

        This is way over the top. Refusal to even begin to think about context isn’t a virtue.

        1. Observer*

          No, I’m thinking about the context. And it doesn’t change that what this person is doing IS lying theft.

          Like I said, lots of people consider that theft is ok in this context. And if that’s what you think, so be it. But own it. Don’t try to pretend that it’s something else.

          Are there times when theft is morally acceptable? I’d have to say yes. Is this a case where it’s acceptable? I don’t know. But you can’t even have that discussion if you don’t recognize that this is what is happening.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think anyone would disagree that he’s lying if he’s claiming to have had exposure that he did not in fact have, but to suggest that anyone who believes that particular lie is acceptable or inconsequential must also believe any and all lying is acceptable, or is condoning any and all lying, is just silly.

        2. theguvnah*

          yes, thank you. We’re not third graders here. Recognizing nuance and complexity is essential as adults.

          1. pancakes*

            It’s acceptable to me. If you don’t want to accept that people who are paid peanuts, given no autonomy whatsoever, and treated poorly in countless ways are just as human as the rest of us and need time to recharge or just rest, that is of course your prerogative.

        3. LDF*

          Right? Saying “lying is bad always regardless of context” is a pretty reactionary take and personally I’m very proud of the fact that I don’t agree with that.

          1. Observer*

            Is that what I said? No. I said that he IS lying and stealing. And that the original formulation was that it’s ok for John to do that. Which is a position that some people take. But if you want to discuss the ethics of the position, you need to recognize that that is the argument you are making. And the OP was eliding this.

      3. Shirley Keeldar*

        Mmm, I think it’s a little more nuanced than that. Stealing is generally wrong, but I’d steal if I were starving. Jay is starving for rest.

        It’s wrong to put people into positions where their only choices are a) do something unethical or b) suffer a lot. I hold the company at fault first—not because they are large (that’s irrelevant) but because they are exploiting their workers in a horrible fashion.

        1. Temperance*

          Okay, absolutely not. Jay is not “starving for rest”. It just reads like he’s not incredibly motivated.

          Yes, 5 days of PTO is absolutely shitty.

          1. sequined histories*

            If I could only get 5 days of rest a year, I would be starving for it. On the one hand, his actions don’t speak especially well of him, but on the other hand, I would have a hard time judging this person for lying to get an extra two weeks of a PTO. I have a lot more righteous condemnation in my heart for a wealthy society that won’t even vouchsafe low-wage workers 3 weeks of paid vacation than I do for Jay.

          2. Been There*

            He gets 5 days of PTO, as a front-line worker, during a pandemic. He is absolutely starving for rest.

            It could be that he was not physically sick, but mentally exhausted due to his job and studying, and his family circumstances. It is absolutely justified to call in sick because of that. And if the company will only give him some paid time off if he claims to have COVID-symptoms, he can absolutely use that as a reason to get the rest he needs.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        Absolutely. I think lying to and stealing from an employer that would suck Jay dry like the world’s largest tick and sell his body for a tax break is not only okay, but that we should all do our part to make the lives of employers like that worse.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Lying is generally considered unethical. I do not think this is ethical at all, but he’s in a tough situation with only 5 PTO days per year. I would hope that he’d use this time off to search for a new job that treats employees better…

    6. JB*

      I don’t think there’s any ethical issue here. But I do think your friend’s position is unsustainable. Five days of PTO per year is inhumane and that’s what he’ll be falling back on when the pandemic is over.

      I’d encourage him to use that time off to job-hunt.

    7. Anon#24601*

      This is a pretty complex ethical problem.

      On one hand, employment is essentially a contractual relationship. Employer will provide employee with x in return for y. If employee doesn’t want to do the job they signed up for, they shouldn’t have taken it and/or should find something else.

      Of course, that’s a lot easier said then done, and that naive view ignores the power dynamics involved. Another view of this is that OP’s friend is simply responding in kind — the system exploits them, so they exploit the system right back (which makes the Marxist part of my brain happy.)

      On top of that, there’s all of the potential externalities — one employee exploiting the system might result in it being taken away from everyone, cultivating adversarial employee-employer relations ends up creating a prisoner’s dilemma, etc.

    8. ....*

      Idk if you give people shitty conditions don’t be surprised when they try to finesse the situation to make their life bearable is my thought. Of all
      The things in the world to care about the ethics of this wouldn’t be one I’d expend energy on

    9. Not Jay*

      White collar workers pull this sort of thing all the time (and I include myself in this category! While I don’t lie about covid symptoms, I absolutely take mental health days that don’t get tracked, go on long lunches, etc., and do not always have a stellar “work ethic,” which is…an interesting way to put moral weight on something that I’d argue really shouldn’t carry any.) Three week of PTO in a year aren’t that much in the grand scheme of things, especially if you’re an essential worker in a pandemic making minimum wage. If his behavior is putting fellow workers in a tight spot (e.g. by forcing them to cover), it’s a little trickier (though still ultimately a problem for management. Otherwise, I play the world’s tiniest violin for his employer.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Yes! I completely agree. Honestly people who say “this is lying and lying is always wrong and Jay’s behavior is inexcusable” better watch out lest they suffer vertigo from the dizzying heights of their moral ground!

      2. Annie Moose*

        This is how I feel… I have absolutely stretched the truth on sick days in jobs where I didn’t get much time off or when I was having mental health struggles. Pretty much everyone I know has done the same. So I have zero concern about a retail worker doing the same thing.

        If your friend did this like every month, I might be concerned, but like, I can’t bring myself to be all that worked up at this time. Is it the smartest thing to do? No, I agree that if his work realizes, they would probably be pissed, but I’m not really mad at your friend.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      Ah, the privilege is strong in some of these comments.

      Not only does Jay have a sucky boss (and company), his home circumstances are terrible, yet he is still actively trying to improve his life. I’m with the …. commenter here. And I wouldn’t feel guilty at all if I were Jay.

    11. RagingADHD*

      You can be sympathetic to someone’s situation and still know what right and wrong are. Yes, this is lying and it is unethical, and he could rightfully be fired for it.

      There’s a larger conversation to be had about how desperate situations tempt people to do things they know are wrong. The strength of the temptation has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of what he’s doing.

      1. sequined histories*

        If we’re gonna talk ethics though, I think giving low wage workers in a wealthy country like the United States only 5 days of paid vacation a year is the greater moral wrong by far.

        1. Calliope*

          Yeah, seriously. This falls under “don’t set yourself on fire to keep huge corporations who have been screwing you over for years warm.”

        2. RagingADHD*

          You have entirely misunderstood my point.

          Ethics and sympathy/empathy are apples and oranges.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Whenever the social contract is broken formal contracts (or laws or rules) lose their power to constrain behavior.

        I’m not blaming Jay. The solution is not for him to develop whatever heroics it takes to maintain a “work ethic” (spit!) in the face of blatant injustice, but to get out and over to a situation where his basic humanity is recognized. I just hope he still can trust in the system enough not to mess it up – which is where friends come in, who can connect him to the established rules.

        1. pancakes*

          I was with you until the bit about trusting the system. I think anyone who trusts it is a fool, and we should knock it down and built another rather than pretend what we have now is fair, reliable, or sustainable.

    12. Anono-me*

      My advice is for you to tell Jay to stop talking about doing this to anyone; and then you should also stop talking about it.

      Whether Jay is right or wrong for doing this is something that it appears could be debated forever. But I think most people can agree that it is highly likely Jay will loose his job and have a great deal of difficulty finding a new one if his employer finds out about the extra leave.

    13. county worker*

      The way you talk about Jay is really condescending. His work situation does not affect you one bit. Quit handwringing about this and chill out!

    14. llamaswithouthats*

      Wow are you actually kidding me. You do realize you don’t have to be physically sick to take sick days off, right? And unless you have been in a situation where you couldn’t get more than 5 PTO days a year, please stop moralizing. I hate it when people who don’t have the same stakes in a situation feel the need to judge others in a situation.

  37. Soap Opera Undigested*

    Any scripts for dealing with a difficult coworker? “Janis” gives me attitude and is the office queen bee/bully/drama queen. She was asking me for help with something and was very rude about it. She asked someone else for help and spoke to them very professionally, but was different with me.

    1. Rainy*

      With this kind of thing it’s usually best to respond as if they’d said whatever it is politely. Don’t get ruffled, don’t play the game. “Oh, I’m sorry, that won’t work for me; I’m on deadline” or “Sure, I can help you with that in about two hours; I’m on deadline”.

  38. Teva*

    I need help making a decision…

    I am lucky to have to make a decision between two jobs, but I am feeling nervous about making a decision! I’ve been in my current position for a little over a year. I don’t love it, but it gave me health benefits and a chance to keep moving up (until now.) The downside is that it’s been an incredibly stressful job at times. I started prozac because of it and am finally getting to a place where my anxiety is going down. I’ve been promoted while I’ve been here and for my resume, it definitely would make the most sense.

    Job #2 is a remote position and I’m starting it up part time. The expectation is that it will become full time within the next 5 months. I didn’t apply for it, but someone asked if I’d be interested. It’s a job that I’ve always wanted to try since I graduated college but is notoriously difficult to find a position in. Although the job doesn’t offer benefits, because it’s a one year contract, it pays pretty well and offers mentoring from someone I admire. Although it wouldn’t make as much sense on a resume, it would give me experience to pivot into my own business or just give me experience to pivot into this part of my field if I wanted.

    I’m at a crossroads because I know I can’t work both jobs long term. Job #1 is the choice that looks good on paper and is the safest route. Job #2 is the one I’m excited about. I’m in my late 20s and maybe this is a time I could experiment, but Job #1 I wish I could stay longer just to add more time on my resume. My plan is to keep working Job #2 part time for a couple more months and figure out if it’s really something I want to keep pursuing, but the “good on paper” option is keeping me back… Has anyone run into this kind of situation?

    1. Slipping The Leash*

      Can you live on the part time salary and do you have a cushion in case it never turns into full time? If so, I’d go for #2! Grab the chance to put you on the path you’ll be happier with in the long run. Good luck!

    2. Ashley*

      Any job that causes so much stress that you need to be medicated should be reconsidered. A one year contract can be a bit risky, so option 3 of keep job hunting might be worth considering.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Is working two jobs adding to your stress level? I think it would be hard to make that decision when you’re that stressed and working that many hours. If you’re seeing a therapist for help with the stress, would you be able to afford that (and prescriptions, and other medical costs) without benefits? I would leave “resume building” out of the equation entirely and rely on factors like benefits, job satisfaction, and quality of life to decide.

  39. Apolitical in healthcare*

    I apologize in advance if this skirts too far into politics.
    My stance on politics in the office has always been leave it at the door. Because I work in healthcare and have some duties overseeing patient safety, I have always expressed this as until your politics affect how you care for a patient it’s none of my business so please don’t tell me. It’s still pretty easy to figure out who comes down on which side of any issue but mostly I have avoided politics in the office.
    Today I heard several colleagues cackling over something so I asked what was so funny. One forwarded me the text and explained that they have a text group that is not exactly Pro-[specific non national politician].
    So now this has me wondering it they have a text group for that what other text groups do they have? And could any of them become a problem?
    For the record I am clearly a bit more liberal than many of my coworkers but I found the gif hilarious.
    I’m wondering if all of this is reading as big deal to me because I’m smarting from feeling a little left out or if this is something that perhaps isn’t really appropriate.
    From what I know (based on the 3 people who were laughing) this goes across multiple levels here so I worry that others might feel pressured into accepting and if boundaries did get crossed might not speak up.

    1. Teapot Wrangler*

      It sounds to me like they’re respecting your boundaries by not inviting you into a political group. I wouldn’t worry too much about line crossing unless you see evidence of it! :)

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Are you in a management or HR role at your company?

      Honestly, I would back away from this. I would treat this just like I would if they had a group text about GoT or the Great British Bake Off.

      1. Apolitical in Healthcare*

        I have a role that has some regulatory authority but I’m not strictly in management.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      They didn’t include you until you specifically asked to be included and you aren’t aware of any other issues, so they clearly have been good at keeping this out of work. So I’m not seeing what the concern is here. Maybe I’m missing something.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Your boundary about not caring unless it affects their actual work is a good one. Stick to it.

    5. IL JimP*

      unless you’re a manager I would just let it go not your problem

      If you are a manager and think this could affect their interactions with eachother and/or the public then you will need to intervene

      1. JelloStapler*

        Since she had no idea about this, or any other, group text out there- it does not seem to be impacting their work. Even more of a reason to leave it alone.

  40. LD*

    A few weeks back I had asked some questions in the open thread about starting a blog and was pointed to WordPress which has free and paid options.
    I am thinking I might go with a free blog and upgrade later if I get traffic, but I have a few questions if anyone here might know the answers. Its not easy to contact WordPress to ask them directly.
    If I want to buy a domain now can I do so and have it direct to the free blog? Who do I buy it from for cheap and how does redirecting work once I own it?
    Second, if I start with the free blog then upgrade, if anyone bookmarked an article on a yyyy.wordpress/article.html and it becomes yyyy/article.html if I upgrade to paid, will those bookmarks automatically forward or will they get broken?
    TIA

    1. Reba*

      WordPress dot org has a short list of hosting providers they recommend, that play nicely with wordpress. I personally use Dreamhost, which is one of the recommended ones.

      Keep in mind that domain registration and hosting can have ongoing costs. I believe there are some domain registrars that allow free forwarding of the domain address to another URL.

      If you don’t want to do self-hosted site (e.g. using dreamhost with WordPress dot org) you can keep it all “in-house” with wordpress. You can register a custom domain through WordPress dot com with a plan, and they will redirect old blog addresses to the new domain for you. Check the WordPress dot com support articles under “domains.”

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I sort of misread your question. I think you need a paid WordPress account in order to have your custom domain point to a wordpress blog, whether you pay for registration through WP or through a third party. This is called mapping your domain.

        1. LD*

          At first I want to use a free WordPress dot com blog but buy the future domain now so if the blog takes off I already own the domain I intend to use. And for now if you go to that domain I want it to forward to the free WordPress blog. In future i might upgrade to the paid dot com plan

    2. RagingADHD*

      If you buy a domain, you can install WordPress on it for free. No need for redirects at all.

      The whole point of getting a free blog at WordPress is to avoid paying for hosting. The paid WordPress plan is just the same thing you’d get by paying for a domain elsewhere.

      1. LD*

        I am not savvy enough to buy a domain, hosting and set up WordPress dot org software on it. As I mentioned to Reba above my plan is to start with the free, if it gets enough views to make some cash off ads I would upgrade to a custom domain that I want to buy now so its not snatched up.
        A domain itself probably does not cost $10/month as the cheapest paid WordPress plan does.

        1. Nela*

          Where did you find the $10/month of WordPress dot com? I’m looking at the pricing page right now, and the “Personal” plan is $4/month if you pay for the entire year, or $7 if you pay month to month. (I don’t know if VAT applies if you’re in the EU.)

          Namecheap currently has .com domains for $8.88/year. I pay mine way double that on GoDaddy (might need to transfer them…)

          $57 for an year’s worth of website domain and hosting is the cheapest you can expect to pay, and setting it up is fairly easy since it’s designed for newbies. I’ve spent way more money on a passion project self-hosted website when I was a teenager, so that seems very reasonable to me.

          Your options for advertising on free WordPress dot com are limited. Copied from their help page “Monetize Your Site”:

          “Advertising through third-party ad networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media, or selling advertising space on your site, is only permitted on sites that have the WordPress.com Business and eCommerce Plans. Sites on the WordPress.com Premium plan can use WordAds, Affiliate Linking, or Sponsored posts to generate advertising revenue, while the WordPress.com Personal and Free plans can use Affiliate Linking, or Sponsored posts.”

          1. LD*

            The pricing is in my local currency, thats why its different, I’m not in the EU.
            I’m looking at the premium on WordPress dot com
            For right now I would go with the free, if things go well I would upgrade to premium. I don’t know if the premium already comes with a custom domain instead of a dot wordpress dot com one.
            Also for now I would like to buy the domain (no hosting) so it doesn’t get bought by someone else and if I go to premium later use it. In the interim just have anyone putting it in the address bar to automatically forward to the dot WordPress dot com domain.

            “$57 for an year’s worth of website domain” Where is this?

            1. Nela*

              That is $4×12 WP personal (the smallest package that can have a domain) +$9 for a com domain on Nemecheap. But if your local currency is different, that’s another matter.

              1. LD*

                For now I would like to buy the domain just so I own it, point it at the free WordPress blog then if the blog does well then upgrade to paid and have the domain be where the blog is.
                So for now yyyy dot com redirects to yyyy.wordpress dot com, and if I upgrade to paid then the website would be hosted as yyyy dot com.

    3. Goddess47*

      I can’t answer a lot of this, but to have your externally-purchased domain name point to your free WordPress blog will some tech savvy that you might not get here… I’d invest some money in a consultation and ask someone who can tell you for sure.

      You can purchase inexpensive domain names a number of places… there are multiple domain registrars out there where you can get *.com URLs from. You can google that easily.

      And the $10 per month to WordPress is a relatively inexpensive investment in not having to ever deal with broken links or any of these issues…

      The bottom line is that I’m going to suspect you pay now or pay later for the advice/support you need.

      Good luck!

    4. MissBliss*

      You can purchase the domain now and point it to your free WordPress blog. The mechanisms of how to redirect your domain to the blog would depend on who you are purchasing the domain from. I have redirected a GoDaddy domain name to another website before, and it’s very simple. Their customer support is also… decent. Although slow. But they have a live chat that could walk you through the process of redirecting your domain name to the blog.

      1. LD*

        This is what I want.
        But I don’t know who is the lowest cost to purchase from and how to redirect it.

      2. pancakes*

        I would avoid GoDaddy at all costs. The company has a history of doing sketchy things to raise prices, like buying domain names people search for and then inflating the price when they come back to buy it. Between that and the sexist advertising and the CEO being unrepentant about killing an endangered elephant, I don’t see the appeal. I used NameCheap when I had a WordPress blog, and it was fine.

    5. Office Worker in MA*

      I agree with others that you should do a self-hosted plan. This is a terrific (FREE) WordPress course that will walk you through how to set it up (and make some recommendations on hosting/domains).

      https://courses.imarkinteractive.com/p/understanding-wordpress

      You can’t forward your domain to your free WordPress blog and moving from free to paid can be quite difficult without professional help.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not sure I agree this part is difficult. I grew up in the Oregon Trail generation / have been using computers since elementary school, but my html knowledge is rudimentary at best. I found it pretty easy to direct my WordPress blog to a custom domain, and then back again when I decided not to keep the custom domain. I do wonder whether it’s realistic for someone who feels they’re not savvy about this stuff to set up a blog that’s both functional and someone profitable themselves, though. My advice is to get savvy or hire someone who is.

            1. pancakes*

              That really depends on where you are and just what you have in mind. I mean, I would expect it to be fairly cheap to hire someone to help set you up with a simple WordPress blog with custom domain—it’s the sort of thing a local student might do for pocket money—but if you won’t feel comfortable making changes to it yourself after that, I’m not sure even that would be worth the money. I think you should spend some more time poking around in the Support section of WordPress dot com, and looking at video tutorials on YouTube as well.

  41. ThrowingAway*

    I have a great and capable colleague I generally enjoy working with. This colleague moved into a management role years ago, and she’s great at it. But ever since that transition, she seems to wear her manager hat in every project/meeting, even when that’s not really her role. In working with her now there will usually be multiple instances where, say, she checks in with me to nudge me on something that is already done or addressed, or, say, she essentially acts as if she is delegating work to me even if we are supposed to be peers/partners in the project, or even if I am managing the project. She is not my manager.

    She is not doing this because she is a power-trippy individual–I have experience with a coworker who essentially wants to “manage” her way into a management role by treating everyone as a subordinate, and that’s gross and not what’s happening here. She’s just so focused on executing and managing her heavy workload that she defaults to driving conversations (even when she’s missing key details due to not being as deep in the project) and sometimes oversteps the boundary between checking in as a project participant and managing/delegating/directing.

    It’s getting to the point in the current project that I’m a little tense about it and don’t know how to respond in a way that is assertive but not curt. It’s many small instances that add up to a sense of feeling “managed” when it’s not appropriate, rather than any egregious examples, so I feel like the way to address it is not clear without risking making a big deal of a small comment.

    I have discussed this dynamic with my own manager in previous conversations, but he’s generally kind of avoidant/indirect about this kind of thing and honestly not sure what he could really do about it anyway. He didn’t have any specific advice for me at the time.

    1. Ama*

      If you have a good relationship with her, I think the next time she “nudges” you you can say — “you know Jane when you remind me to get things done like this I feel like you’re managing me, I’m going to get this back by the date we agreed on.”

      For the delegating, are there times when you can ask her to do certain things on the project so it feels more equitable? I’m not sure there’s a lot you can do there if she’s dominating your conversations aside from trying to get your thoughts in first.

    2. Fitz*

      How clear are the meeting agendas? There’s not a lot of information here on whether she’s being particularly aggressive or just taking the lead absent obvious leadership. If you were leading the meeting and then she jumped in to “manage” it, she’d just be rude (and you would have to have a conversation with her about it), but if your meetings tend to wander in scope, it makes sense that she’s taking charge to manage her own to-do-list. If it’s the latter, being more assertive should improve the situation on both sides.

  42. Torrance*

    I have a question for anyone who fits under the big ol’ pagan umbrella (Wiccan, witch, Heathen, etc) & is willing to answer: are you out of the broom closet at work & how did/is it going for you?

    I’m asking for personal experiences because my own weren’t positive ones (my former employer did nothing to shield me from customers’ harassment when all I was doing was wearing a pentacle) & there’s the whole Panera situation that’s been in the news. My therapist thinks that I’m catastrophising about being out at work but I’m think I’m being realistic. I’d love to be wrong though!

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I think it depends on the work place. If you’ve got a liberal workplace and liberal management you can come out. If not, I’d stay inside. My suggestion would be to follow your intuitions, and having made the decision don’t worry about it. If you feel the need to do so, you can probably find a Pagan 501c3 religious organization and become a dues-paying member if you’re worried about having to defend that you’re Pagan before some kind of employment tribunal.

    2. Non*

      Not Pagan/religious, but dabble in a couple of “woo” practices as spiritual practice, and only under very specific circumstances was anyone at work aware of that. I work in a context where spirituality and religion in general are seen somewhat as outmoded and incorrect ways to understand the world, so I’d be professionally judged if people knew more. And I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m so far into it that I am counter to common-sense science, etc., which I think is an easy conclusion people jump to.

      The only exceptions were when it sort of serendipitously came up that a coworker was into something similar.

      But it sounds like this is different for you, and it’s at the level where it’s important for you to be able to wear symbols overtly as part of your daily life. Realistically, I think you’re going to see some judgment wearing a pentacle, as lots of people grew up being …er…misinformed… that it meant SATAN and BLOOD and DEMONS and lots of other stuff. That’s not your fault and I don’t think it’s right. There is something deep in Paganism, witchcraft, etc. that is by default subversive, so some will always react negatively to it, and realistically people are not going to understand that this would be similar to someone being harassed for wearing a cross. Is it important enough to you to work through that?

    3. Twisted Lion*

      Former wiccan, I was wearing a pentagram necklace one day and a coworker noticed. Things did not go well from then on. That was 20 years ago so Id like the think people are a little more open minded but… I dont know. I think unless you live in a super conservative place in the country you will be fine but its definitely nothing I would volunteer to anyone at work.

    4. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      Not out but not actually closeted either. Just never discuss it either with family, friends, or at work. It’s not part of the work culture to do so although I’m sure if I wore a hoodie with a pentagram on it, someone might ask. But overall, religion isn’t a big conversation topic. I think it really depends on the company and how conservative it is. I don’t think you are catastrophizing though. It’s something you want to consider carefully before you out yourself at work. I’d look for a more liberal culture and see how people respond to various things before I wore anything that would out me. If you do, start with something small and casual like your necklace. If anyone comments negatively about it, just smile and say ‘thanks for your feedback’. Or, if you are are old and mean like me, just give them the Alpha Dog stare until they get uncomfortable and walk away.

  43. 123Anon*

    My supervisor is asking for feedback about his skills as a supervisor and would like to know what needs improvement. He is new to this position and I think needs a lot of improvement. How do I give him professional feedback about:
    – is always late to meetings
    -seems distracted on Teams meetings
    -is forgetful
    -talks and explains way too much when a response or yes or no is appropriate
    -has no power when it comes to making major decisions/has to always go to his boss (sometimes makes assumptions that something will be approved and turns out wrong)
    He is calm in his general demeanor however that is not a true picture.

    1. voyager1*

      Honestly I am not sure how much of that I would tell a manager. Especially the part about no real power. I am sure he knows he has no real power. Honestly all things you list are really annoying, but you will probably need to frame feedback very respectfully. Your boss writes your review not the other way round.

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

        Your boss writes your review not the other way round.

        Although I suspect his boss probably has more influence there…

    2. Ashley*

      I would focus on one or two things that if changed would have the biggest impact. Supervisors being late is pretty typical. Also is he truly open to feedback? Maybe test the waters with something small.

    3. Smithy*

      I think when giving feedback to a supervisor – even when you believe that advice is received in good faith – I think it’s often easiest when the context is as concrete and solutions focused as possible.

      In the case of being late to meetings, while that is concrete – what is the impact on you that you’re looking to resolve? If the case is that you’re scheduling a 30 minute meeting, he shows up ten minutes late and then you genuinely don’t have enough time to discuss the agenda, I’d focus on how meetings can be better scheduled to ensure enough time. Certainly having a boss who makes you wait for a meeting is irritating, but if the focus is more about the impact on your work as opposed to your nerves, finding a solution can be easier. Such as scheduling meetings for 45 minutes where you just plan on the first ten minutes being time you hang out and answer other emails.

      I also would start this off with only maybe 2 or 3 points at first. If it’s well received and the relationship is overall going well, then it’s certainly possible to bring up other points over time. But getting a lot of feedback often makes people prone to defensiveness, especially when it’s coming from someone you’re managing and you’re new (and possibly insecure) in how you’re doing.

    4. Double A*

      So those habits seem annoying on a personal level, but they don’t describe any impact on your work. Are any of those habits/actions impacting your job? What do you need from him to do your job better?

      It seems like you might be getting at issues related to efficient use of time, but I’m not really sure what impacts his (admittedly unprofessional actions) really have to do with your job from what you’ve written here.

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

      I think the first few issues (which seem interrelated) about being distracted/forgetful/tardy are probably better dealt with through applying “interpersonal skills” rather than giving them directly as feedback.

      I would actually focus on the “no power” part, although I would not word it like that! :-) Can you find a way to feed that back in terms of impact on your work, such as how you wasted 2 days refining the llama grooming flyer into a version that was ready to send to the printers (or whatever) on the assumption that that would be approved, but then the decision was overridden and could have been solved by agreeing this in advance… Particularly since this is part of a pattern.

  44. JMR*

    Here’s a niche question I’ve never found an answer to – for people with PhD/post-doc training, how do we count years of experience? I completed a PhD, then a multi-year post-doc fellowship, and then moved to the biotech industry. Depending on when we start counting, I either have 8 or 13 years of experience, which could make a pretty big difference in the title or salary level I’d be hired at. It’s even more complicated for scientists who worked in academia for a while after completing their post-doc and before moving to industry. I consider post-doc experience to be work experience because I had a PhD and was employed as a scientist, but others consider it part of the training and don’t count it as work experience. I see a lot of scientific positions posted as “X years of experience required,” with no indication of whether they’re counting the number of years working in the biotech industry, the number of years since completing the post-doc fellowship, or the number of years since graduation.

    1. Almost Academic*

      I think this is field-dependent. For my current position, the “years of experience” counter actually started post-bacc when I was working on research studies. My field is one where you are doing hands-on work on research grants throughout grad school though, so I’m not sure how different this would be if you were in a PhD program that had more ramp-up time with coursework and the like. Many fields also put “X degree can be substituted for Y years of experience” in posting, so you may look around for your particular field and see if there are any accepted norms. In general, I would say apply to positions and be clear about your work trajectory, and let them be the ones to decide how to count it.

    2. Mynona*

      In my field (humanities), there is no consensus. For application forms, I err on the higher side (including postdoc years). I assume the hiring manager will do the math themselves when they see my CV, since the postdocs are obvious.

    3. hot priest*

      I don’t have a PhD yet but I would include the postdoc as experience if only so that it becomes more broadly recognized as legitimate work outside of academia.

    4. Dumpster Fire*

      I’d look at what the job requirements state. If they state PhD, then start counting at that point (and include the post-doc). If they state Master’s degree, then I’d count the PhD as part of the experience (assuming it included professional-level research, especially if it was for a company or organization that does that same research).

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      I am hiring for a higher ed admin job and had to make this call. This is for more of an alt-ac position, not a science one. While I appreciated any relevant work in grad school I did not count it as full-time experience. I did count post-docs and any positions in the field the candidate may have had before grad school.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      My sense of the norms where I am – a STEM PhD in a field where post-docs are mostly for aspiring professors:

      If a posting says “PhD and X years of experience”, post-doc* counts towards X, unless you have ONLY post-doc and then it counts as maybe 0.5X. (It’s expected that people in their first industry job will spend some time figuring out the differences between industry and academia, making mistakes along the way, but once they get that out of their system then they can translate what they have learned.) Many PhD-level postings will also accept “Masters and Y years of experience”; the PhD is typically credited as 4-5 years of experience. If you spent your early 20s working as a BS-level lab grunt before returning to school, that basically does not count, except that if you worked in industry then you’re not a first-timer anymore.

      * I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen someone apply from one of those semi-permanent staff positions that are basically post-post-docs, but I suspect they’d be treated like a regular post-doc. I have seen people get recruited out of faculty positions, and in none of those cases was anyone worried about years of experience; that’s for people like you and me who have to apply for jobs, not for those people.

  45. [insert witty username here]*

    Am I just being a stick in the mud? And/or any ideas to gracefully shut this down? Our team has new bosses from the corporate side but we generally support and work day-to-day with folks on the actual program we support. Previously, we had pretty limited, hands-off interaction with our corporate management chain. The new folks seem much more gung-ho and hands on. Which, OK, whatever – not my (or any of our team’s) preference, but I’m sure it will all work out. We’ve all been remote the last year and the new bosses are coming in to town so we’re all coming in to the office for a day to meet and work with them. Cool – we can manage one day. Now they want to go out to dinner and say we’ll find an outside place….. except that means we’re all going to be sitting at the same table, eating with our masks off. Quite frankly, for COVID and personal reasons, I just don’t want to go. I already have personal reasons come up that have made the day they’re coming not an ideal day for me to be out of the house (and I was going to plan to leave to come home by 4). I also live pretty far from the office and there aren’t many options for restaurants close to the office, especially that have outdoor seating, so I’m also worried they’re going to pick somewhere even further away. I anticipate at least one other member of my team being annoyed about this. Do I just need to suck it up? Or can anyone think of good suggestions to change this plan? (Was thinking of suggesting lunch instead but I’m not sure the team supporting the other program is going to be in the office during the day – I think they’re just being invited to join for dinner)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Is there a pleasant outdoor place to eat nearby where you could bring a catered boxed meal?

      I mean, I wouldn’t like this, either, but my workplace wouldn’t suggest it to begin with.

    2. Carol*

      I think it’s still entirely appropriate to say “this is a great thought but with COVID don’t feel comfortable.” Honestly, I would cite that–the pandemic is not over and people should not be shy about their hesitations. I have had a couple of outdoor meals during the pandemic when cases were low, and honestly that still had a risk level and I would never do that with people I haven’t met yet. This was all with trusted colleagues who were distancing, masking, being very responsible…still not sure I should have done those meals in hindsight, given the required mask removal.

      1. Carol*

        I would maybe consider going to a park or something, where you’re not around lots of other customers who may or may not be masking, and you have more space to distance than at a restaurant. Light catering at a park?

        1. Autumnheart*

          I’ve done this with my team. The organizer picked up a to-go order from a place (Shake Shack or whatever, or another option was to bring your own food), we met up at the park, and we each brought a camp chair and sat in a big circle. It was very pleasant.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        This! Another suggestion is to say that you have an immovable commitment that evening and won’t be able to make it to dinner.

    3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Ugh. If people want to eat outside, that’s up to them, but I wish they wouldn’t try to drag others into it. Especially if it’s a boss/management trying to get employees to join them. Not everyone is fully vaccinated yet. And even if they are, a lot of people are still being careful and aren’t ready to go out to eat, even if it is outdoors. Bosses/management shouldn’t try to force it. And even if they aren’t forcing the issue, just the suggestion can make some employees feel obligated to go along with it. That is unacceptable.

  46. Siblings at work*

    This is just a thought exercise: Is it normal/usual to have siblings on the same team? After a small team reorg, my leader recently started managing two siblings with the exact same job title and role. I was curious about if this is common/what you all would think of this. If I were a manager, I’d be worried about the awkwardness if one has to be fired/put on a PIP and maybe coverage if they tend to take the same days off. But maybe it’s more common than I think!

    1. JMR*

      Fun story: I have a colleague who some people call N, and some people call A. I thought that was a bit odd, but assumed N was a last name or a nickname. I worked there for FOUR YEARS before I figured out that N and A were twins, not the same person. I have no idea how common it is to have siblings in similar roles in the workplace. I just wanted to share that story. :-)

      1. PythonandPandas*

        I am also a twin, who works on the same team in the same role as her twin. I was once on a phone meeting (pre video calling times) where the client thought we were one person arguing with themselves for an entire meeting!

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      I hired my younger sister at a few of our undergrad jobs. Later we both worked for her now-husband. Twenty years into my career she hired me to audit her data. We work fine together as long as there is a clear chain of command. My husband employs his youngest sibling (17 years younger), whom *I* just put on a PIP.

      I don’t think it’s unusual to have siblings working at the same place. But I do think it can create awkwardness if there is no clear sense of hierarchy. Especially if the power dynamic is different than the birth order dynamic.

    3. Nicki Name*

      I’ve been in one workplace where there were siblings present, but it had a rule that immediate family members couldn’t work in the same department. So I had a co-worker whose brother was in Sales. My boss’s wife also worked there, in a completely different part of the org chart from him.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I’d say it’s unusual in my life, as I’ve never seen it outside my own experience. Early in my work life, my brother and I worked on the same small staff and we loved it! We’re a great team. But I’d never do it again. We were seen as one unit and anything negative about either of us was projected onto both of us. They even talked about us that way, joining our names: “Jack-and-Jill did x. You know how Jack-and-Jill are.” (Positives never carried over.)

    5. PollyQ*

      My sister & I worked on the same team for a few years, and then in the same department, and it worked out fine. She had been at the job first and was a high performer, and I was very conscious of not wanting to do anything to damage her reputation. Because we were both well into adulthood, we weren’t particularly inclined to take the same vacation days. Also, it was an office job where coverage wasn’t really an issue, and we didn’t have the same role.

      IDK how common it is. There was a pair of siblings in the same department, though not on the same team, at another job I had, and there were no problems that I heard of there, either. Your concerns about what would happen if one were disciplined or even just laid off are not unreasonable, though I’m not sure they’re that much worse than they would be for good friends.

  47. peachy*

    Higher ed folks: what, if anything, can students do about creepy professors? You know, the ones who are sexualizing the classroom, but they know enough not to do anything Title IX-worthy and claim that being creepy is just their pedagogy.

    I get so frustrated that higher ed is one of the few places where people pay obscene amounts of money (slash take out student loans they’ll be paying off for a lifetime) to have almost zero protection from all but the most severe abuse. And if you have the audacity to advocate for yourself, you’re made out to be a crazy, entitled Gen Z/Millennial who must not understand how “the real world” works.

    Sigh. I don’t know if I expect real answers. I might just be shouting into the void.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      The students can write an email detailing their experiences to the department head. Whether something actually happens… who knows?

      1. Pippa K*

        Yes, this ought to be good advice, but in my experience it’s so, so dependent on the department chair. And it’s hard for students to know whether the chair is a ‘safe’ or supportive person to go to or not. (Chairs are generally fairly senior, and the well-entrenched problem profs may well be their old pals. Again, from unhappy experience here.) Find a professor you trust and ask their advice, is what I’d say. Even if you don’t want formal action as a result, it’s helpful for professors to know if their colleagues are up to no good with students, and every decent professor I know would be happy to help a student work out the best course of action in such a situation.

    2. Ashley*

      Depending on what they teach make sure other students don’t sign up for the classes if at all possible. The online review platforms can also be helpful because if there is a pile on there is a chance they might do something. I am assuming creepy professors are tenured because my classmates and I were able to successfully campaign to not get a bad professor tenure through end of the year surveys and conversations with the Dean about why they were problematic.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        This was years ago, and I certainly hope things are better now. Even in the 1970’s, though, I had a business law prof (tenure track but not yet tenured) who was “not renewed” when it became open gossip about him giving A’s for sexual favors.
        Talk to your classmates. Talk to those who have taken classes with him previously. Talk to your academic advisor. If your school has an ombudsman’s office, talk to them (or whatever equivalent there is at your school). I don’t think a lot of schools have a Dean of Women anymore, but might there be a modern equivalent? (This assumes the targets are women. If not, look for an office or support group for LGBTQ+ concerns.)
        Don’t gossip, and don’t exaggerate, but don’t keep quiet about a creep. It’s wrong in the “real world”, and it’s wrong in academia.

    3. Tricksie*

      You’re not wrong about how bad academia is on this issue and I’m not sure if it would end up shouting into the void. Some things to try:
      – Document. Everything. Does the prof say slightly off color things in class? Lean too close? Call on more men than women? Etc? Like, literally everything. Document it with the precise language and incident and date.
      – Find other students who are also made uncomfortable by this prof.
      – Go to the Title IX office and make a report, even if you feel like they will ignore it. Bring your specific documentation.
      – Go to the Dean of Students office and make a report.
      – Think about things like: Do students HAVE to take classes with this prof to finish the major? Are students of one gender/race/sexuality/whatever underrepresented in the major? Could this prof be causing students to change majors? Could you ask to see the patterns of grading for students of different identity groups, etc?
      – Talk to your student newspaper. Will they run a story on this prof making students uncomfortable, but not enough to “do something about”?
      – Twitter, TikTok, etc are your friends. Make. A. Stink. Use social media to discuss EVERY instance where this prof does something inappropriate. It’s not libel if it’s true. Check your student handbook to make sure there’s not some blanket rule against negativity on social media–and if there is? Then attack that, too.
      – Go to a prof you trust in the same department and ask if this prof is known to be a creep. Ask if they have ideas or know of people who can champion you. Or go to your advisor or an ombudsperson on campus or your multicultural center or whatever you have!

      Being creepy and making students uncomfortable is NOT pedagogy.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!!

      1. Tricksie*

        I guarantee this is a “missing stair” situation and everyone is completely aware of what this prof is like. They are working around it and ignoring it, instead of addressing it. Make it harder to ignore YOU (students) than it is to ignore the situation.

      2. peachy*

        Thank you, I appreciate the empathy. :)

        I already reported to the dean of students office, who referred me to the Title IX office. I filed a report and argued my side fiercely, submitted the documentation that I had, but they dismissed because they found there was no policy violation.

        He’s definitely targeting WOC in STEM, who are obviously underrepresented, but I have no proof of that.

        And I think part of the problem is that he’s doing his creeping in an elective that isn’t required, and he’s doing it in optional discussion sections that students aren’t required to attend.

        Student newspaper and social media are good suggestions, thank you. As is the idea to consult the multicultural center. So far, no one I’ve asked for help has actually been helpful, but that shouldn’t stop me from trying.

        Thanks again!

        1. Carol*

          Hi, just wanted to mention–this doesn’t mean folks at Title IX don’t think anything happened. They’re bound by a strict process and the legalese they have to stick to can obscure the fact that they might know something is really wrong here, they just can’t do something based on what’s currently been shared. I wouldn’t necessarily rule them out in the future, although it’s crushing that you did all that and nothing happened.

          1. peachy*

            Thank you for that. I keep trying to tell myself that it’s the letter of the law that’s bad, and not the Title IX office at my university… but it’s hard. So it’s helpful to hear this from an outside perspective, too. :)

        2. Qwerty*

          Have you talked to any of the student groups to see if more people are willing to help push back as a group? Even if it isn’t for your field exactly – I feel like our chapter of SWE would have ridden into battle for women of any degree. We had groups for most cultural backgrounds, plus the generic degree-specific groups. IEEE comes to mind since they accept anyone in STEM. Most of degrees had an honor-society to tap into that could be helpful when pushing back on faculity issues. Groups that are tied to more national orgs might even be able to tap into some of their resources or alumni networks for advice.

          I guess my rambling point is tell everyone. Make it known everywhere. It’ll be less exhausting for you to have allies.

          Oh, and if you have a chapter of HeForShe or something like that, reach out to them too. Their point is for men to join in on making a stink about these things.

        3. Rainy*

          Talk to other WOC (and MOC) in your major and if he’s been doing this to multiple people, start reporting as a group.

        4. BRR*

          Maybe also HR. Even a mediocre hr department would be concerned about an employees behavior like this.

        5. Pippa K*

          For what it’s worth, creepy profs are sometimes creepy with their colleagues, too, and I know of a couple of cases where harassment of colleagues was considered no big deal, until it emerged that students might have been affected too. Student complaints were the only thing the university took seriously. (Students are ‘customers’ who have parents who might sue, y’know.) So there’s some hope that student complaints will carry weight, if you want to press them.

    4. Carol*

      Document, deliver to dean, report to whichever office handles sexual harassment (that’ll be an admin office, not an academic department), repeat. You really have to go up through the department chain, as well as alerting the “outside” admin office to what’s happening.

      The department may not listen or follow through, but usually the staff dedicated to investigating harassment claims are really familiar with the subtleties of these situations. If they tell you outright they can’t do anything, it’s probably about a burden of proof thing, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep bringing up repeated instances. The more students who report it, the better. It’s doubtful this professor is only doing the subtle “can’t catch me things”–there’s usually other more covert stuff happening at the same time.

      I always take student review websites with a grain of salt, but throwing “creepy” in a review would definitely be noted by lots of people and at least put them on their guard.

      That said, I’ve had a staff member at an academic library repeatedly make overt, egregious sexualized remarks (things like “show me your ***”) to the female staff, and nothing ever came of it. Something about his staff (so non-tenured) employment contract protected him. It’s gross, but it happens.

      1. peachy*

        Yeah, I reported to the dean of students and Title IX. There was an investigation but they dismissed the complaint because they said it wasn’t a policy violation.

        Student review sites are a good idea, thanks!

        And just…. wow about that staff member. No employment contract should ever give people the right to harass their co-workers. That’s… a lawsuit waiting to happen, IMO. So sorry you had to deal with that!

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Not in higher ed but several classmates and I were having an issue with a particular professor who was very loud about his opinion that women should not be in his field. We went on mass to drop his class and one of the other department professors happened to be there when we did and she was livid! Refused to let us drop the class and from then on there was a female TA with him during every class. That was his last semester at that university.
      If there is a professor that you have a ton of respect for and has good standing at the university, I would recommend bringing it up to them. They have much more power.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It’s a good point to make sure other faculty is aware of the situation. If he’s not tenured, this might help keep it from happening. (I’ve seen it happen with a female professor in the 90s – harassers come in all flavors.)

    6. AGD*

      Eww. Just being creepy shouldn’t need to be in anyone’s pedagogy even once, let alone repeatedly. This is the equivalent of the bogus ‘but I couldn’t help it’ kind of argument.

      If the students are comfortable, first stop is either equity office/campus ombuds-office or a confidential meeting with the chair of the department that the person comes from (or a dean of the broader division). Documentation, calmness, and firmness all go a long way.

      Unfortunately, it’s true that consequences only happen so often – sometimes an investigation doesn’t occur, and sometimes it does occur but mysteriously doesn’t find anything, and sometimes it does occur and does find reason to terminate someone or rescind their tenure but the higher-ups do nothing. But I think things are changing – too slowly, for sure, but a little at a time – and it’s worth a try.

    7. JelloStapler*

      I agree to see if there’s a liaison that can share the information with the Chair if the students are hesitant to do so. Is there an anonymous ethics hotline or an ombudsman? I also agree that going to the student newspaper, student groups or any student government would be a great idea.

      Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that there may be some hesitation to address this if it’s a tenured faculty, because higher ed is going to higher ed (some institutions better than others, I’m pretty sure the one I work at would not stand for this). However there should be some visible steps taken.

    8. Rainy*

      Ombuds office, talk to the department chair (or the dean if the creep is the chair), talk to their own advisor, talk to their other professors. It really depends on the situation, the department, and the institution, but all of the above are an option. The student could also go straight to the office that handles institutional equity and compliance and complain. That office will open a file on that professor whether they follow up or not, and while sometimes a boulder appears to crush a creeper, what usually gets them is the landslide of tiny rocks that are dozens or hundreds of student complaints.

      I think it’s also worth being clear with yourself what your win scenario is. It would be nice to get creepers fired, but it rarely happens, so alongside institutional complaints, whisper networks can at least help keep other students safe. It’s good to know who not to get on an elevator with, when you need to go to office hours in groups, etc.

    9. Anonnington*

      I don’t work in higher ed, but I survived some really unethical, abusive behavior from faculty and staff back when I was a student.

      The whole system needs an overhaul. I’ve tried a lot of different angles (complaining to the schools, complaining to their accrediting agencies, etc). Those were all dead ends. I’ve decided to focus on raising awareness of the issues and advocating for change.

      Also, I’m Gen X, in my 40’s, and people still act like I’m whiny, sheltered and entitled if I complain about issues in higher ed. The attitude is, “But you got to go to college! Wow!” And then there are remarks about how I don’t look like someone who would get to go to college, so . . . “Wow!” And I’m just supposed to shut up and be ok with that.

      Advocate for change. Keep advocating for change. Read about activists from other times in history and how they were treated by their contemporaries. It helps with perspective.

    10. Office Worker in MA*

      If you can, have a conversation with staff in the department. Chances are if he’s doing it to students, he’s also done it to staff who may have a different reporting mechanism and can help direct you to whoever else might be able to help. Bypass the dean of students and talk to your college’s academic dean or the omsbudsman (if you have one). If you can, find a faculty member in the department who has noticed similar behavior and ask them to support you in finding a way to make his abuse known. (If you feel up to it, write an op-ed in your college or local newspaper).

      My university is working on this issue right now and it’s hard (made harder by the fact that not everything falls under Title IX) – we’re currently agitating for a separate independent office to oversee microaggressions and misconduct that don’t rise to the level of Title IX but still makes it an unsafe working and learning environment.

    11. Pamela Adams*

      Reach out to alumni – particularly those in his targeted group. I guarantee that you aren’t the first generation of students to suffer from this jerk. When alumni and industry talk, Dean’s and department chairs listen.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Not academic but an idea –if it’s a publicly funded school, try your state/city as well. Because harassment puts them in the line of lawsuits as well as the school itself.
        And if your campus has a humor magazine or comedy club, or if the college paper has a nervy satirical cartoonist? Slip them the idea. Humor can sometimes say things that no one else can get away with. Keep us posted.

  48. Anon#24601*

    I’m debating going back to school for Computer Engineering. I graduated two years ago with a liberal arts degree, only to realize after two years in the workforce that I’m far more interested in science and technology than I am law. compliance, or politics.

    I’ll planning on working though some prerequisites at a community college as a full time student, and I’m excited as well as nervous about the time and financial commitment. It feels like a bit of a regression to be getting another bachelors degree. It feels like the right choice though — I took a free programming class and a for-credit calculus course online in the evenings, and I’ve really enjoyed them so far.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I think it’s a good idea, and probably pays better. Remember that you can get some good experience by joining an Open Source project that looks interesting. If you’re not yet up to speed as a programmer you can do documentation, art, work on their website, do system-administration, etc. I’d strongly suggest learning Linux.

    2. lemon*

      Have you considered doing a master’s program instead? There are programs out there that don’t require a STEM bachelor’s and are basically made to help liberal arts and other non-STEM people transition into the field.

      I think that might be a better option than a second bachelor’s because it’ll help you get more a salary bump when you do get a job. You’ll also probably have classmates who are a little bit more mature than typical undergrads. And master’s programs also often have more flexible class options that would allow you to work, if finances are a concern.

      1. Anon#24601*

        I did — I’m drawn more towards the hardware and low-level software end of things, for which a CompE degree seems more suited than Computer Science.

        A masters program would still be an option, but the few people I’ve talked to in industry have advised against it since it would probably take just as long given all of the prerequisite courses I would have to get through, and wouldn’t allow me to get a PE certification if I want to get into contracting. Plus, I can always go back if I find that a masters would be useful/I want to specialize, and it’s not uncommon for employers will subsidize engineering masters.

        1. lemon*

          Ah, gotcha. Sometimes folks who say “computer engineering” mean “software engineering” but you meant actual computer engineering. :) Bachelor’s makes total sense, then.

          FWIW, I was 30 when I finished my bachelor’s degree. I went back as a full-time student at 27. I had a similar fear that I was somehow moving backwards by quitting my full-time, professional job to do it. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You do you!

      2. Qwerty*

        Are you looking to focus on programming software or computer architecture/embedded systems? A master’s in Computer Science Engineering can be done with an bachelor’s from another program depending on how much overlap there (and it sounds like community college classes are resolving that). However, Computer Engineering focuses more on the components of a computer so going straight to a masters would be more difficult. CE is often the hardest degree in the EECS department – while I love my degree and can use it for software development, it’s not a route I recommend.

        With tech in need qualified people, you might also be able to find a company that will hire you after you take some of your pre-reqs and support you on getting the degree with a tuition reimbursement program. The fact that you are enjoying Calculus is good sign for problem solving skills! As an interviewer, seeing that you are covering the foundations like math/science instead of going straight to coding would be a big positive and a good indicator that we could teach you on the job.

        1. Anon#24601*

          I’m not 100% sure at this point, which is a big part of why I’m starting at a community college. Luckily, they offer some introductory EE courses as well as CompSci courses, so I can get a taste for both before I have to commit to one or the other.

          The reason I’m drawn more towards CompE is I’m really interested in logic gates and transistors and the really-low level stuff that makes computers tick. But I’m also interested in software, and I don’t think I know enough about either to say with much certainty which path will be the right one for me.

          Also, if I’m completely honest with myself part of the draw of an engineering degree is that it’s an excuse to take more math and physics courses :)

          1. Qwerty*

            You sound like the perfect candidate for CompE, welcome to the club! It does teach you about software as well and all the architecture stuff really comes in handy when you have to design larger software systems.

            Since you mention getting a PE certification (super great, my main regret is not taking the test) – look into Order of Engineer during your final semester. It’s a little ceremony done the week of graduation where you take an oath committing to stuff like quality and safety (engineers version of the hippocratic oath) and they put a ring on your pinky. Kinda like getting married, but to your profession.

  49. SaladSandwich*

    Thank you to everyone who was so kind w/r/t not getting into grad school in the department I work in! Reading your comments helped *so much*. Multiple professors including my boss and the Dean actually reached out to offer advice on applying next year and other programs I might be interested in. The commenters about the school preferring non-local applicants (trying to up our national ranking) were correct, as was the note about it being difficult to change how a person is viewed (staff v faculty divide is strong here!). Chilipepper, your advice to think of it like applying and not getting a promotion was SO good! It really helped me feel less like everyone was pitying me or something like that. Thank you!

    So to sum up, AAM commenters are the best! Thank you all!

  50. claimstosomething*

    Has anyone here transitioned from Auto Claims to different but related career? My partner has good experience in this area, but is a little burnt out on claims. They are not really sure where to look or what to look for. They are really keen on moving into sales/customer service bc it would probably mean a pay cut.

    1. Blomma*

      Maybe they could become an insurance agent? A coworker of mine worked in claims for several decades and that experience definitely is an asset in her work now as an agent. I can’t speak to how it would compare pay-wise, though.

    2. Fran Fine*

      Your partner should try underwriting. They make more money than in-house adjusters (I used to be one, and that was certainly the case at my company), and as an adjuster, you already understand how policies and losses work – it won’t be too much of a stretch to start actually writing the coverage and learning to understand how to determine good and bad risk.

      1. Fran Fine*

        A compliance job would also be up your partner’s alley since adjusters deal with compliance issues all the time.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          To this point, mortgage companies are hiring, and they definitely have compliance and/or some overlap.

    3. Irishgirl*

      How about product? Working on the forms and coverage that they gained knowledge in while dealing with claims. I just moved over from underwriting and there are a lot of former claims people in product.

      Or they could look at underwriting, maybe an UW assistant to learn the ropes.

  51. Student Affairs Sally*

    Question about references – I know the etiquette is to ask your references if they are willing to serve as a reference prior to actually providing them to a potential employer. I’m in a slightly awkward situation because I just started my current job 6 months ago. It’s been a total bait and switch, the culture is toxic, and my boss (who I generally like) openly admitted that she misled me about how dysfunctional the organization is because she knew I wouldn’t take the job if I knew. In my field, it’s highly unusual to stay at a job for less than a year (and usually longer), and I had pretty much resigned myself to sticking around at least that long even though I’m miserable. But I recently learned about two positions at a nearby school that would be much more aligned with my skills, at a significantly less dysfunctional culture, and at a significantly higher salary. So obviously I’m going to apply! The problem is that I’m highly embarrassed that this job has turned out to be such a disaster, and I don’t really want to let my references know that I’m already looking to jump ship unless it’s absolutely necessary. Both applications require me to submit references up front. Would it be okay to just let my references know that I listed them if I get an interview? Or do I need to ask them before submitting in spite of the embarrassment?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Why are you embarrassed about a new job that isn’t a good fit? It’s happened or will happen to everyone at some point in their life. Just contact them and ask them if they wouldn’t mind acting as a reference for you again.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      It isn’t “etiquette” to ask your references if they are willing to serve before handing out their names — it is an absolute requirement. As for explaining why you are looking so soon — I’m not sure why you are embarrassed — it sounds like an sh*tshow — that’s not on you. Just tell your references that you are looking again because the job ended up being quite a bit different than you had been led to believe when you were hired.

    3. Natalie*

      Some of this comes down to how likely to think it is that they’ll be contacted without you getting a head’s up. That said, you really don’t have anything to be embarrassed about! This is a totally legitimate reason to look now, and you even have confirmation that you were misled. Presumably your references are part of your network, consider that if you tell them you’re looking you might hear about opportunities from them.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      I agree with the others that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed! I think this is a good time to use Alison’s wording related to how to answer a similar question in interviews. Could you reach out to your references and say something to the effect of, “Thank you again for being a reference for CurrentJob! I know this is a quick turnaround, but I’ve just seen an advertisement for a position that sounds too good not to at least throw my hat in the ring. Would you mind providing a reference for that position?”

    5. Karo*

      In addition to others suggesting the “too good of an opportunity to pass up” wording, I think it’s ok to say that the job is turning out to be different than what was advertised/what you signed up for. As others have said, it happens sometimes, it’s not your fault, and it’s not something you should be ashamed of. I’d prepare a list of reasons why you’re looking to leave (which you should have in your back pocket anyway in case it comes up in the interview), but only share those if you’re asked.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Also, I’d expect your references to have confidence in your professional judgement. If you say there are problems in the new place I am sure they’ll want you to find something better. Telling them also helps them not send folks to the place you are trying to leave.

  52. Alianne*

    I am finishing up a graduate degree program in my field (education/teaching). I have a job I plan to stay at, but with COVID recovery, a changing market, and a year-to-year contract there’s always some question of the future. 

    Is there language I can use to ask the chair of my program for a generic letter of recommendation? I do not believe he would write a tailored recommendation even if I had a job posting in hand, and I also worry that he wouldn’t have as fresh an image of me if I wait two+ years before asking.  I do have a second professor who I know would be able to write me a tailored recommendation at any time, but in terms of “prestige of recommender” I think it would be nice to have one from the chair as well. 
    I’m aware this well may be an academia-specific question, but does anyone have suggestions or thoughts?

    1. T minus now*

      Since it is education, and letters of recommendation are fairly common, I think you can do this. When I graduated from my program, I had three generic letters that I used for several years.

  53. Law degree?*

    Anyone have experience with a Juris Masters program? I had wanted to go to law school because I find law fascinating but I didn’t want to be a lawyer so there wasn’t really a point spending the time and money. A top ranked state law school offers this with a contract/risk management focus, the courses look interesting and would be helpful in my work as a project manager/estimator. Completing the program would be 50/50 personal achievement and moving forward at work. I don’t expect it to increase earnings dramatically but would want to actually learn a lot through the program. Any thoughts on a degree like this?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      If you don’t expect the law degree to increase your earnings, I would strongly recommend finding a [relatively] inexpensive state/“not brand name” school – the education is usually JUST AS GOOD, it’s just that you absolutely need a Name Brand School for BigLaw jobs (which are the only ones worth taking out that level of loan for).

  54. BadApple*

    Advice?

    I am a first-year teacher in High School… and I think this is going to be my last year as a teacher. It’s too emotionally taxing, and between four schedule changes, overtime pay for teaching two sections at once, and teaching in a cafeteria I’m exhausted! I’ve been working sixty-five to seventy hour weeks, and my curriculum is disappointing my department head, which is making me second-guess everything and get analysis by paralysis. Also, I really don’t trust my admin… I always feel like I’m going to get in trouble if I ask questions. I talked to a veteran teacher, and she said my teacher:student ratio is not right.

    I considered… trying to stick it out for a second year to finish my licensure (doing dual enrollment…) but I genuinely don’t think I can do another bad year without having serious mental health problems. And ultimately I don’t trust my admin. I could try to switch schools this summer, but I don’t want to go from the pot to the fire.

    What sort of careers can I get into? My background is in language and linguistics. I can manage data and handle high-stress emotional situations (counseling). I’m also a good communicator and fluent in English and Spanish. Also to teachers… any thoughts? I feel like I need to learn somethings about planning and class discipline but there’s so much happening this year and I’m so overloaded I don’t think it’s worth sticking around in this field.

    Any guidance is appreciated!

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I’m not sure I’d use this year (or possibly even next year) as a baseline. I know that even veteran teachers are seriously struggling this year.
      Any chance you could only teach one section next year or switch to a different school before making a full career switch? Also look into adult education/ELA teaching – they generally have a desire to be there and learn.

      Otherwise, many places need interpreters and bilingual individuals to translate in meetings or on business documents.

    2. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

      High school teacher here. I say stick it out for another year, but try to change schools. The first year of teaching is only about survival and is not an indicator of how the rest of your career will go! I felt I finally got the hang of teaching after five years. This year had been particularly stressful even on me, an eighteenth-year teacher. Finish your license, it might be something that will be useful down the road. Hang in there!

    3. PhysicsTeacher*

      The first year is absolutely the hardest year of teaching, even under normal circumstances. I’ve been overwhelmed this year and stressed to a similar level as how I felt my own first year (four different science courses and I was a brand new teacher doing a transition program simultaneously with working) and it’s currently my 6th year. This year has been hard for everybody and I do not envy first year teachers this year. Every teacher I have spoken to recently, including 20+ year veterans, have told me how burned out they are. This is not a typical year in terms of stress.

      If you do decide to stick with teaching, know that almost everybody thinks that the second year is more manageable and that there will presumably be less COVID stress next year. Classroom management is a skill that takes time to learn, and starting a new year means that you can apply some of the stuff you’ve learned this year from the start rather than having students who still remember your previous mistakes. Planning is easier the second year and on because you’ve got more stuff to pull from and are also probably better at estimating how long your class will take to finish something.

      You say that you don’t trust your admin and feel like you’ll get in trouble if you ask questions. That’s definitely a signal to me that if you decide to stay teaching, you should try to change schools. Good admin want to help you because they want you to grow into the best teacher you can be (and then they want to keep you working there). It’s really tough to have a bad admin as a new teacher — I had a great evaluator my first five years and now have one I’m not sure about. But in those five years, I built my reputation here as a solid teacher and colleague and now I have more influence because of that, which mitigates the admin issue a little bit.

      Teaching has really high highs and really low lows — this year exceptionally low.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This was an absolutely horrible time to be a first-year teacher, I’m so sorry. It’s a position with a big learning curve even under great circumstances – the things you’ve struggled with like planning and discipline definitely take some practice and it’s typical for teachers to take a couple years to really get the hang of things (and also typical to burn out before reaching that sense of competence/confidence).

      If your heart was really set on being a teacher I think it would be worth trying to find another school with different admin and give yourself a lot of grace for being new in a situation where even veteran teachers are HUGELY struggling, but it also makes sense to find a different job for at least a couple years and see if you want to try teaching again when the pandemic has passed.

      1. BadApple*

        I think that’s where I am with it. I’m young enough that I think it would be interesting to try something different and potentially return to teaching. There definitely are some things I really love about the job.

    5. Disco Janet*

      I would really try to find another school if you can! My first year was at a charter (I’m guessing you’re at one too, since you’re still finishing your license) and it was awful. “Emotionally exhausting” was my go to phrase to describe it. And that was WITHOUT Covid!

      Last year I switched to a public school with a good reputation and oh my goodness, it is so much easier! Not easy – especially since I’m only in my third year and Covid – but much easier. I only have two different subjects to prep for. We have a union and a contract regarding the number of students per class, what they can and can’t ask us to do without extra pay, etc. Behavior expectations are higher, and since they know that, the vast majority of students rise to meet that. When they don’t, admin actually handles it instead of making the teacher out to be the problem. They don’t shoehorn kids into classes that clearly aren’t the right fit for them just because they don’t have room for them anywhere else. The curriculum is already there – I just have to follow it, and make tweaks/changes where I’d like. And the school has way more resources available to the students, so I’m not dealing with such a heavy load of emotional baggage. I don’t even have to submit weekly lesson plans! They just actually trust their teachers.

      If at its core you like teaching, but everything else just feels like too much, consider getting your license and getting in somewhere else.

      1. BadApple*

        This is interesting to hear. If I had a strong ‘base’ for curriculum then it would be a lot easier. My department doesn’t really agree with using textbooks, which is fine for veteran teachers but for me as a first year teacher necessitates that I am creating the communicative foreign language activities that we use every single day. The behavior expectations is also interesting. Thank you for sharing!

    6. Flower necklace*

      I agree with everyone saying to try to manage for a second year but switch schools.

      This is only my fourth year, but I actually had a really rough first year. There was massive amount of turnover in my department that year. Half of us were new and most of the others had only been there one year. I had three preps, no curriculum, and admin was completely unsupportive when it came to behavioral issues. I was too naive to realize it at the time, but, in hindsight, I should have quit.

      Still, I’m glad I didn’t. Things have gotten much better since then. Nothing has been as bad as that first year, including COVID.

    7. Double A*

      Wrapping up my 11th year teaching high school here! So first year teaching is hellish no matter what (really, truly, the hardest thing you will ever do by far), and this year was especially weird and an extra level of hellish. This being said, the administration is make or break; if you don’t like or trust your admin, this won’t get better. And now THAT being said… I think there is a lot you can do before you decide if you want to bail on the career.

      1. At a high school there are usually multiple administrators, so is there one you feel more comfortable with than others?