open thread – April 15-16, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions 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 take your questions 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.

{ 958 comments… read them below }

  1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    I posted a few weeks back about an upcoming interview I had, worried it was too much of a stretch job. So many commentators put my mind at ease. I had the interview this week, and it went amazing. Felt very at ease, and my fears it was way above my skills was unfounded. They are agile-ish but admitted it’s (like all
    Agile teams) a evolving work in progress but not a requirement at all the role, but nice I do have experience. They focused more on team fit as most on the team have been there 10-25 years and they wanted someone with fresh eyes. I explained that was very similar to the structure of my current team, I was the new person and everyone else had similar tenure. At one point person from the business side commented after one of my responses that I already sounded like someone on the hiring managers team. So really, it could not have gone better.

    I know that doesn’t mean it’s in the bag. I had a very lengthy and traumatic job searching experience the last time, where I had several great interviews and didn’t get an offer. If nothing else I learned that a job at this level isn’t a stretch of me and to keep going for it. Something will work out, but I hope this one does. I had some other interviews this week too, but this is the one I was most excited/worried about and this interview went the best by far.

    1. Elle Woods*

      Glad to hear it went well. Keeping my fingers crossed that you get an offer–a good one–from this company!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is wonderful! I’m so glad it went well and I hope it builds your confidence that if you don’t get this job, you’ll get another equally as good, if not better.
      Fingers crossed!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like you already won something regardless of if you get the job or not. Congratulations, this here is a lot.

      I wish you the best, may you land in a job that is just right for you.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Ha! You’re right. My previous main connection to her was that my husband is 100% Roy Kent. Even down to the bum knee and yoga work outs.

    4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Sometimes you interview and find it IS a stretch, and that is OK too. Or sometimes you interview and find you’re vastly over-qualified. Again, it’s ok. This is why it’s important to have screen calls and interviews.

  2. Sable*

    After losing my job in 2020, I finally got hired at a new job at the beginning of this year. The job is definitely not perfect—management is not great, but I’m getting paid more than I was at my old job so I try to see the good side. My new company has spent quite a bit of time and resources training me over the past few months, and I think I’m doing well.

    All that said…my husband’s company just offered him a promotion at a new location in another state. If he decides to take it, we would be leaving at the beginning of the summer.

    My husband has told me that he will turn it down if I want him to, but we’d honestly be nuts not to take it. He would get a bump in salary, plus the company has offered to help us with moving expenses and relocation assistance. Another big potential bonus for me is that, with my husband’s new salary, I wouldn’t necessarily need to work unless I wanted to. That’s a huge plus for me because we are wanting to start a family within the next year or so, and I would give up just about anything to be able to stay home with my kids for at least a couple years.

    So…it’s a big change, but it’s looking like he might take to the new position.

    So, finally onto to my question…How the heck do I explain to my company why I’m leaving after just a few months and after they put so much time into me? I know that’s…not ideal. I’m willing to do it because I want to do what is best for our family, but I’m already dreading putting in my notice. In my short time here, I’ve already seen management fire someone on the spot for what seemed to be a minor mistake, so I don’t even know if they will let me stay my final two weeks. And despite my talk of poor management, my direct supervisor is really nice (it’s really the higher-ups that seems to be the problem), so I don’t even know how to bring this up with him.

    As much as I know that my loyalty has to be to myself and my family, I just can’t help but feel like I’m letting the company down. That’s a little silly because I’m admin, so it’s not like I’m single-handedly holding the company together or anything. But I still feel that way.

    Could really use some guidance

    1. Dragonfly7*

      It would be strange for someone not to understand a partner getting a fantastic job offer and relocating. Would it work for you to to share it that way and then ask what you can do to make the transition to a new admin go more smoothly?

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “In my short time here, I’ve already seen management fire someone on the spot for what seemed to be a minor mistake, so I don’t even know if they will let me stay my final two weeks.”

      That’s not a company you need to feel bad about leaving. Have a kind but straightforward conversation with your supervisor, I get that you don’t want to upset him, but things happen and people leave jobs. If he’s nice, he’ll understand and be happy for you. But ultimately you work for the company not for him, and you should not carry any guilt over this.

      1. Loulou*

        But that’s not why OP is leaving! It’s because their partner got a job out of state, which is a perfectly legitimate reason that anybody can understand and that is likely not to lead to hard feelings.

        1. Loulou*

          Sorry — I misunderstood your comment and thought you were saying OP should say what you put in quotes. But yes, I agree that direct is best.

      2. Artemesia*

        This — sometimes with couples it is complicated and you might consider turning down a move because you had a fabulous job — but it doesn’t sound like you are at a fabulous place so don’t worry about it. Give notice with commitment to ease the transition with any documentation or other help you can give — but don’t cringe — and be prepared for what they do — if they walk you — well, more time to pack and hope you have that family soon. (don’t mention that in resigning though don’t want to reinforce misogyny stereotypes)

      3. Dragon*

        Agreed that you work for the company, not your direct supervisor. What if your supervisor were to leave?

    3. Lady Glittersparkles*

      We actually just had someone in this situation at my work – partner got a job out of state so they unexpectedly gave notice after a short time. We were disappointed that they were leaving, but everyone understood the situation and nobody held it against her. Anyone who is reasonable will understand that you have to do what is best for you! And if they aren’t reasonable, that’s on them.
      That said, it’s so natural to experience guilt in these situations. Hell, I felt guilty giving notice after being somewhere for a few years. Push through it and if it’s something you’re spending a lot of energy dreading, rip off that bandaid and get it over with as soon as it’s financially feasible for you in the event that they don’t let you work out your notice period.

    4. Another person again*

      Life happens, and we can’t always anticipate what will happen. Your husband is getting a job transfer so I would emphasize that – it’s just one of those things that happens in life. Reasonable people will be understanding about that. If they aren’t reasonable people – then be happy you’re getting out! Your company leadership would not feel bad at all if circumstances changed and they had to let you go, so you don’t feel any more guilt than they would!

      Definitely wait until things are lined up for your move though before you tell anyone, so you don’t get let go before you are ready. In the meantime, do the best job you can in the time you have left.

    5. Gracely*

      In your shoes, I would definitely give up the job–having a good direct supervisor is great and all, but if the upper management isn’t good, that’s going to hurt in the long run (I have a good boss and solid grandboss, but they’re completely stymied by our great grandboss).

      Plus, it’s much easier to explain “my partner is getting promoted and we have to move” as something out of your control. When it’s time to hand in your notice, maybe talk to your direct supervisor and see if there’s a remote option available?

    6. Mockingjay*

      Is telework an option? Assuming your company has a presence in New State for taxes, business license, etc.

      If you choose to move and give notice, remember what Alison oft says: people change jobs all the time for all kinds of reasons and businesses manage anyway. It’s normal and expected. If you think the company might react badly, quietly prep your turnover before giving notice, so everything’s professional and you’re ready to leave then and there. It sounds like your supervisor will provide a good reference anyway, despite the grandbosses.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      They’ll get over it. You’ve got a great opportunity here and you are going to take advantage of it.

      Give your 2 weeks and be prepared to be walked out that day if they get pissy about it. So start taking home your personal stuff, and make sure any loose ends you’d be leaving are documented so you can put them in your supervisor’s hands on the way out the door, whether it’s the day you give notice or 2 weeks later.

    8. WellRed*

      I think you’re overthinking it. Your husband got a job offer in another state and you’ll be relocating. That’s…it.

    9. Jellyfish*

      My spouse was in a similar spot when we moved for my job. Months before I began job searching, he’d requested a transfer into a different area. It finally went through a few weeks before I got an excellent offer.
      His boss was disappointed, but everyone understood. Life happens, and no one expected him to stay in his just-need-a-paycheck job when I had a major career opportunity 1500 miles away. He worked his last two weeks and left on good terms.
      Hope all goes well, whatever you choose to do!

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, this isn’t a quandary at all (or shouldn’t be). You don’t like your current workplace, and you have the perfect excuse—your husband took a new job that requires you to reclocate. I guess the only downside to giving that as your reason is that they may potentially allow you to work remotely from the new location, in which case you’d have to figure out another explanation about quitting if you wanted to quite right now.

    11. JSPA*

      1. Training isn’t a personal gift they give you; it’s what the job requires. (Might it change their willingness to hire someone else needing extensive training? Maybe. Maybe not. Not your problem, either way.)

      2. Without belittling admin work–it is important, companies do need good admins–admins are not super-rare subject matter experts (they will be able to hire another person!) and admin training does not run in the thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars companies might lay out for specialist training. (Remember the context: companies will sometimes pay for entire graduate or professional degrees, and regularly pay for substantive certifications. Even if they trained you to be a CPA–which I’m guessing not, as you’d have called yourself a CPA, not an Admin…even if they paid your fees to become a notary…that’s completely within their cost of doing business.) They saved money by hiring someone who needed to be trained, instead of paying for someone with training. That was their choice.

      3. This is a big one: The fact that they were (or appeared to be) horrible to someone else? That needs to be forcefully wedged into the, “why it’s manifestly reasonable to leave” column, even (or especially) if it’s taken up residence in the, “why it will be awkward to tell them” column, in your head.

      At minimum, if this was actually a straw that broke the camel’s back, then they did a crap job of letting people know what sorts of mistakes are firing level mistakes. You either really ARE at risk of the same, or you reasonably feel at risk; that’s no way to thrive in a workplace. And that’s 100% on them. “After what happened to Joel(le), I’ve been feeling like I might be let go at any point if I made a single mistake” might be the most helpful thing you could ever tell them, frankly.)

      4. You have individual agency, separate from the time of your husband’s start date. Planning a move, selling belongings, selling a house–These things take a variable amount of time, especially now. For example, “our agent priced our house to sell in 3-4 months, but we got an offer well above asking in 48 hours, contingent on express closing” should clearly cover you from “why didn’t you say something earlier” blow-back. It’s also not unheard of for spouses to move a bit out of sync, if that helps the logistics. You can wait until he’s there, in the job, getting his paycheck–and then give two weeks notice (or three). Once his check is coming in and the travel expenses have actually been paid for him and the household items that are moving with the two of you, you have nothing to lose if they say, “today’s your last day.” You can then change your ticket, or you can camp in your appartment and enjoy your old area like a tourist, before flying out to join your husband. Heck, unless it’s florida to Alaska, if you’re doing it by moving van (or car and trailer) you can take a couple of vacation days plus a weekend to drive to new place; fly back solo; then while he gets up to speed at work, you get loose ends tied up, and give notice. This is not to say that you must do any of these things. If the comfortable answer is to pack up and go, then do that! But don’t feel trapped by the concept of, “we two must move as once.”

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      Jumping on the “you don’t need to feel badly about this” bandwagon. “My husband has been offered an amazing job in another state, and it’s something we really can’t turn down, as it aligns perfectly with our goals for the next few years” is perfectly understandable as a reason for leaving.

    13. Professor Plum*

      Your company firing someone is very different from how they respond to resignations. Have you seen that in your short time there?

    14. anonymous73*

      Just be honest. Any reasonable manager would be happy for you. Highlight the good things about your new job and let them know that you appreciate what they’ve done for you to get you up to speed, but let them know that you can’t pass up this opportunity. Just remember…YOU are the only one who is going to put yourself as a top priority. Even with a good company, they wouldn’t hesitate to let you go if they had to in order to stay afloat no matter how loyal you were to them. You owe this place nothing.

    15. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Well, it’s not as if you knew this about your husband’s job when you applied for your job.
      These things happen and if it’s a great opportunity you shouldn’t feel bad about taking it!

      What you can do if giving notice:
      > Give as much time as reasonably possible. With moves, it can be more than the typical 2 weeks and it might be appreciated.
      > See if they’re open to WFH remote or freelance (provided you want to continue working for them a bit longer). It’s possible you could extend your work for them once you move.
      > Always keep it classy and professional.

    16. Working Hypothesis*

      Honestly, you already have the perfect expansion and it’s true. “My partner got an offer we can’t refuse, and it’s in another state so we need to move,” is kind of the ultimate no-fault excuse for leaving a job. Just tell them. It will be fine.

    17. Choggy*

      I think that at any time, an employee could have something come up in their life that they have to leave a job. Doesn’t matter the reason, as humans anything could happen, and I would think companies would know that. Yes, they put time and effort into training you, but that’s part of your job, and it was done during a time when you thought you’d be staying. This is not malice on your part, life and changes happen.

      Wishing you and your husband all the best!

  3. Potential Info Science PhD?*

    My boss recently surprised me by suggesting I consider a PhD to further advance in my field. Any thoughts from fellow academics and/or those who’ve gotten a doctorate in the last decade?

    Pros:
    1. I have an academic librarian job, so I don’t have to worry about going through all the effort and still not breaking into my field.
    2. My employer would pay for the whole program.
    3. Since the coursework is directly related to my job, I could do assignments and at least part of the dissertation during work.
    4. I’d get a raise upon completing it, and it would make me more eligible for future promotions & greater job mobility.
    5. The idea of being a doctor appeals. It’d get me more respect at work too, which is a valid concern.

    Cons:
    1. I’m already an academic librarian, so… why bother?
    2. So much effort and stress for a moderate raise and *potential* mobility.
    3. The structure for getting tuition coverage would stretch the program over ~eight years, which is a long commitment.
    4. Not sure I want to be a student again. I worked full time through two master’s degrees, and I like not worrying about coursework and due dates now. My work / life balance is good, especially for academia, and upsetting that might be an awful plan.

    What do you think, internet? Should I seriously look into applying, drop the idea entirely, or stick it on the back burner and see how I feel in a few years?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Con #3 would be the big drawback for me. 8 years = you would get your diploma in 2030. 2030!

      1. Chicago Anon*

        What will you have accomplished in eight years if you *don’t* get the Ph.D.? 2030 is coming around no matter what you do. If you have other plans, even “hang out a lot,” then fine, but I don’t see “eight years” as a deal-breaker in and of itself.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I’m worried that if I was in that situation, I’d be locked into a “throwing good money after bad” situation – with my time and energy substituting for the money. A lot of things can happen in 8 years, and if you tie yourself down to that program you could miss out on all sorts of opportunities by engaging in the sunk cost fallacy. OP didn’t say anything about wanting to remain at their current employer for the rest of their career.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          Agreed, Chicago Anon.

          Case in point: I was 40 when I began studying taekwondo as a white belt. I’m a 3rd degree black belt now, and I will turn 55 next month. How old would I be turning next month if I’d never started?

          1. Software Dev (she/her)*

            Pretty sure you’d still be turning 55…

            (I know what you meant, congrats on the black belt!)

    2. AGD*

      (I have a Ph.D. in quantitative methods for social science and advise undergrads on whether to pursue grad school.)

      This is a really interesting one! My verdict would be “if you’re not sure, wait.” The perks are worth considering, but even on a more condensed schedule, a Ph.D. is so long that it can easily turn into a demoralizing slog, and one of the biggest advantages going in is a wild amount of excitement for the subject and/or dissertation topic. Generally speaking, a Ph.D. is excellent training for a) general intensive academic research and b) becoming an expert on a little slice of human knowledge and the surrounding literature, so if you encounter either an interesting niche or an under-explored application of something via work in the meantime, that might be the perfect basis for doing a doctorate.

      1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

        I have a dissertation idea, which is the main reason I’m even considering this. Recently, I started a new research direction with considerable potential, and I was already planning to spend the next few years focusing on it for the “scholarship” requirement of my job.
        However, a dissertation locks me into the topic more than some presentations and a couple peer reviewed articles would.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Maybe. My bestie just did her dissertation, and one of the diss options for her program was to write three publishable peer-reviewed articles with one unifying theme, rather than being limited to the one paper to rule them all.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              But check with the program about this—some are much more amenable to the “stapler thesis” than others.

        2. phding question*

          As someone currently getting a PhD, I’m gonna push back a lil on the “a dissertation locks me into the topic.” More than a few articles? Sure. But people write dissertations all the time, then radically change direction in the scholarship they use to get tenure and/or establish their career. Sometimes they never pick their dissertation topic back up again.

          If you have an idea for a diss, that’s great! Doesn’t necessarily mean pursue it, but a PhD program is, in fact, about providing the structure and guidance for you to pursue a diss-level subject, so that might be worth considering in your decision.

          1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

            This is a useful consideration, thanks. I just hear many scary things about dissertations. Without the experience, I’m not sure if that would be a significantly scarier undertaking than the research I already do for my job. I’ve done peer-reviewed articles, but the dissertation seems more like writing a book.

            1. Nesprin*

              Really depends on discipline/advisor- I became allergic to my thesis project and had to change directions. So my thesis was 5 distantly related papers stapled together with an introduction I wrote on a cross-country flight.

              1. yo*

                I think a lot of folks might read this as a metaphor but as someone who’s worked with mice and rats I’m guessing you’re very literally allergic now? The things we do for science, dang

        3. Yorick*

          A dissertation doesn’t lock you into the topic. I’m working in a completely different subfield than my dissertation was in, although I’m still interested in the old one. I know many people like that.

          If your employer will pay, I say go for it. You can always quit if it doesn’t work out!

        4. Manchmal*

          A dissertation would not lock you in to much more than 3-4 peer reviewed articles, plus intro, conclusion and literature review. I would take a look at some dissertations recently completed by people in the school and field that you’re considering. That would give you a really good idea of what’s expected.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        ‘My verdict would be “if you’re not sure, wait.”’

        Another Ph.D. here, and I’d echo this advice. I usually phrase it as, “If you’re not sure if you want to get a Ph.D., don’t.” It’s a lot of work, and a lot of time, and so much of it depends on having something you want to research so much that spending the next 5-7 years on that subject sounds really fun. By the time you hit year seven (or beyond), you may find yourself loathing the topic, but it helps to start out thinking it’ll be fun.

        But if you’ve already got the research planned? That changes things. Now it’s more about whether being in a Ph.D. program would help you with the research you want to do, whether the hoops you’d have to jump through for the Ph.D. program would be hoops you’d jump through anyway, and whether your advisor would be fully onboard with the research as you want to do it.

        That’s all assuming that the research you want to do anyway is enough for a Ph.D. But if you were planning on spending a few years on it, I’m guessing it would be (but check with your would-be advisor to make sure of that!).

    3. Forkeater*

      I would go for it. I’m in a higher ed administrative role where many people with my title have PhDs, but I do not. I took a job awhile back at a place where I could have gotten my PhD for free, but decided it was too much work. I wish I had tried – I would have had many more doors open to me in my field if I had.

    4. Gracely*

      Unless you’re wanting to move to a different position somewhere else, I wouldn’t bother. 8 years is way too long.

      And…if your university is anything like mine, other faculty don’t respect academic librarians with ph.ds any more than the ones who don’t have them.

    5. Ope!*

      I’m a non-academia STEM librarian considering a PhD in a few years, and I relate to a lot of this. Do I *need* it, no. Do I like the IDEA of being Dr. Ope when I work with a lot of PhDs? Absolutely I do.

      Currently I’m waiting for a a perfect storm of funding, timing, partner being out of their advanced degree program, etc. Since it’s not a career necessity it really needs to be the ideal scenario or not at all for me. Sounds like you’re in a similar situation.

    6. Rapunzel*

      I’m not in academia but my partner is so I have a front row seat to it. If you don’t think you would enjoy being in school again, I wouldn’t do it. Even for people who enjoy it a lot, it’s really hard work and the work-life balance sacrifice is exhausting (even without a separate job!) and 8 years is a long time. It has to be something that you really want, or else it isn’t worth the overwork.

    7. Mouse*

      I would vote to go for it! The absolute best thing you can invest in is yourself, PLUS your employer is paying for it! 8 years is a super long time though. If your boss is encouraging this, I wonder if there are any ways to structure the tuition assistance in a way that would expedite it. Maybe she’d be willing to give you a bonus to cover what tuition assistance doesn’t, or something similar. It’s worth an ask!

      I would also explore what would happen if you left your job early or didn’t finish the degree. If the risk is low, that makes it easier to go for it now and reevaluate later. If you’re pretty much locked in, that might change the equation.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      I’d look at that 8 year timetable and see if you can shorten it! Before I started my PhD, I was really on the fence because I had seen people take 7,8,9+ years to finish in my field (hard science). My advisor really pushed me to do it because as he said “if you finish your aims fast, there’s no reason to make you stay”. Literally the first day of my program I sat down with my advisor and drew up my aims, got them informally approved by my to-be committee members within the first semester, and completed and graduated in 4 years. That was only possible because I was familiar with the program and faculty, but it sounds like you might be in a similar position. If funding is the reason they’re stretching your program to 8 years, I’d also look into seeing if you can get external funds.
      And as for whether it’s worth it for you…only you can answer that question. In my case, not having a PhD was going to seriously limit my career advancement and compensation.

      1. Yorick*

        Yes, it varies a lot by field, but it doesn’t have to take 8 years, especially if you’re coming in with a Masters. Mine took 4 (I used secondary data for my dissertation, which many people do in my field).

    9. Podkayne*

      I’d explore the possible ROI for myself, based on my age (i.e. how many more years I plan to work) + my opportunity costs (the time or mental bandwidth to pursue other interests) + consideration of some special niche in my field that might intrigue me, perhaps because it would cover new ground in the library sciences + if I might pursue an adjacent field for my doctorate + what doors might open for me down the road if I were to attain a doctorate. If the ROI isn’t sufficient for me, especially if I already feel lukewarm about it, then I’ll take a pass.

    10. DisneyChannelThis*

      Where are you at in your career? If you’ve got 20+ years of working left, 8 years to open up more doors for higher pay, promotions etc. doesn’t seem bad. 8 years PhD would definitely make it less overwhelming, slower paced, more spread out. Even if you are 100% satisfied in job role/functions now, are you sure in 10 years you wouldn’t be wanting a change and a promotion?

      What is the options/requirements if you decide to quit your job partway into it? Do you have to pay back? Are there requirements to work a certain number of years in job or face needing to pay back the degree when quitting?

      1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

        I’d be about 40 when I finished. Assuming the world doesn’t end or higher ed doesn’t collapse, that would be at least twenty years of higher pay and more opportunities.
        There’d be no financial consequences for dropping out of the program, which is also part of the appeal. If I do a semester or two and hate it, it wouldn’t be a huge deal to stop. Internal politics add some complicating factors though, so I want to weigh my options carefully.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          I started taekwondo when I was 40. I will be 55 next month. I’m a 3rd degree black belt now. How old would I be if I’d never started? Go get that PhD!

      2. Marmalade*

        I’d start it. Take one or two classes for the free tuition and if the workload is manageable, pay for some of it yourself to get done in less than 8 years. Former academic librarian here (with *only* an MLIS – I tried to start another masters twice and felt like I was drowning with just one class on top of work and commute and life, and we all know you’re trapped at the bottom without AT LEAST that second masters).

        1. Lily Rowan*

          This is a great call — you can start the program and not finish it, and still be in the same position you are right now! This is not an all-or-nothing decision.

    11. Rex Libris*

      MLS here. The conventional wisdom I’ve always heard from my mentors is that the master’s is the terminal degree for the profession, and the PhD isn’t worth the effort unless you plan on a formal academic teaching position, like as a professor in a library school graduate program. YMMV.

    12. Joielle*

      I don’t know much about PhD programs, but you describe the tuition coverage as “stretching” the program over 8 years. Does that mean that, although the whole program would be longer, you would have better work-life balance during that time?

      If it were me, I’d go for it – but I loved being in school and would love to get another degree. (The only reason I don’t is that it wouldn’t help in my career and my employer wouldn’t pay for it, so it would just be an expensive vanity project!)

      1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

        The school offers free tuition for one course every semester as part of my job contract, so I wouldn’t do the program full time. I don’t have the money or inclination to pay for more classes either directly or via student loans.

        Since I’ve never taken PhD courses, I’m not sure how much work a single class would be, especially if it already intersects with parts of my day job. It could be totally manageable, or it could be a miserable amount of extra time and effort. I like learning and I’m good at academia, but I’m also a pretty big fan of work/life balance. :)

        1. Yorick*

          It varies by class but I’d say it fits within the “3 hours for every 1 hour in class” idea fairly consistently. Taking 1 at a time along with your normal job is going to take time away from your other interests, but otherwise should be manageable.

        2. Manchmal*

          that’s kind of a weird timeline….Doctoral students normally take at least 3 classes per semester for two years, so your coursework would take 6 years?? Instead of deciding on the phd now, could you just use that coursework to further the research agenda that you have to do as an academic librarian anyway?

          1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

            I could be wrong the on the timeline. They weren’t completely clear on exactly how many classes were required or when I could start the dissertation, so I’m looking at the worst case scenario. I’ll be talking to someone about those details next week.

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          One caution about this: getting a PhD is not about the classes. There’s usually a class requirement, yes, but the classes are secondary. Or maybe the better word is “preliminary”—they’re what you take so that the program knows you can do the research properly. In my program, you were expected to get the coursework done in the first couple of years then spend the rest of your time in the program completing your research. Taking one class per semester for 8 years would be atypical at the least. You’d want to make sure going in that that’s actually an option.

          And YMMV, but I spent a lot of time on those classes.

        4. L.H. Puttgrass*

          One other thought on this: check whether the Ph.D. program requires a qualifying exam. Qualifiers vary a lot by program, but sometimes they test you on how well you know the material from the core coursework. So taking a qualifier several years after you had the course it’s asking about wouldn’t be ideal. And Ph.D. programs sometimes have have time limits on how long you can take before doing the qualifying exam, which would also get in the way of a “one course per semester” approach to getting the Ph.D.

    13. Loulou*

      How would the PhD help you advance in the field? Would you get a raise or promotion? And would you get the same thing if you got a subject MA?

      I see a ton of benefits for subject MAs for librarians, but the only librarians I know with PhDs are career changers (got a PhD in field X and then transitioned to academic librarianship). Unless you’re super interested in LIS research and teaching, not sure what benefit an ischool PhD would have in terms of career development.

    14. Artemesia*

      Will a PhD really add anything to your career? Sometimes it does. I had one and it was essentially for my work. But it doesn’t sound like it is for your advancement — consider carefully whether it is worth the pain and suffering.

    15. Joobe*

      Different industry here, but I got my PhD in music back in 2011 and then transferred industries completely due to life…happening. I got into the financial services industry, and though I’m not wildly passionate about accounting, I took the prerequisites and then enrolled in a Masters of Accountancy program, and got a MAcc in 2019. all told, it took me about 4 years for the prerequisites and the masters, on a part-time basis. I did the degree while working full time and being a mom to a younger kid. It was tough, but the payoff was honestly worth it. It raised my credibility with my colleagues, skyrocketed my overall earning potential, and I am so glad I did it.

    16. AnonyAnony*

      I was in a very similar situation 12 years ago (different field). I had the same Pros/Cons list as you.
      I decided to take the plunge, and never looked back.
      It took me 8 years to finish – I did get a divorce in the middle of the program. I definitely would have finished earlier if I didn’t have to deal with all the things that came with a divorce.
      For me, #4 and #5 on the Pros list, plus the what I learned, how I grew in the process, are well worth the investment, and far outweighed the cons. That said, YMMV. It’s a very personal decision.

      Your question is: “Should I seriously look into applying, drop the idea entirely, or stick it on the back burner and see how I feel in a few years?”

      Of these current options, I would suggest seriously look into applying. If you haven’t done it already, you might speak with more people to find out concretely what a PhD program entails, and what it will get you. Consider speaking with current and past students, recent graduates, faculty from different universities, look up people’s LinkedIn profiles, etc.

      If you don’t like what you find out, then you can always drop the idea entirely.

      Sticking it in the back burner is probably the worst option: not sure what it would achieve besides prolonging the non-decision.

    17. old PhD*

      Well, I got my PhD more than a decade ago, so maybe I don’t count…. but get a PhD because it’s a thing *you* want. It’s a lot of effort and stress and toll for something you’re “meh” about. It’s great to be able to do some schoolwork during work times, but I expect the PhD to eat into your evenings/weekends/holidays for the next several years. Are you *that* excited about it?

      1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

        You count :) If someone was going to discuss logistical details, I wanted to hear about more recent experiences and not what they remembered from 1977.
        Having read the many helpful responses here, I guess my real questions are:
        Is the average PhD course significantly difference from a master’s level one?
        Is the classwork itself still especially stressful if you remove the common factors of financial struggles (or balancing a completely unrelated full time job) and concern about the future job market?

        1. Another Academic Librarian*

          The most stressful part from my mentoring PhD candidates is the dissertation AND the job hunting.

        2. Anonymous healthcare person*

          Fwiw, I’m in a completely different field, but Ph.D courses were basically the same as MA courses for me. But, I did the MA and PhD all in the same program, I know different schools/programs can vary a lot in terns if course intensity and expectations. However the thesis work of MA vs. Ph.D. was really different in terms of intensity, scope and expectations. To me, it sounds like your best bet to answer these questions is to talk to several people who are in or recently completed the specific program you are considering. That could be part of the application process for your school, for students who interviewed at my graduate school, it was standard and expected for current graduate students to answer questions about what it was like to be in the program.

        3. old PhD*

          In my science, master’s and PhD courses (ie classes) were the same: you’d expect a mixture of students in any given class. Some of the “core” courses were tough – one class I took: I submitted a 15-page assignment every week. Some were easy. The real difference was the effort it took to undertake the original research for the thesis/dissertation. And, then to write it up– I’m not a great writer: but for me, once I’d done all the experiments it took a year full-time to actually get the words on paper. Which, included a bunch of advanced analysis, and background research that I’d put off. I’d already published 3 papers in top journals before I started this.

          I neither had financial struggles nor worry about the job market. I guess whether you find classes stressful depends on whether you find them stressful (I did, but I have huge test-taking anxiety and imposter syndrome). I loved the research part, even though I couldn’t pursue the research I’d been dreaming since I’d been a teenager – I just really really love research.

        4. AnonyAnony*

          I did my masters and PhD at the same university. The work was vastly different.

          The course work part of the masters was a mix of lectures and seminars. The focus was knowing the content. I knew I would get a good grade in my exams and papers if I could demonstrate I understand the materials. We had a lot of readings but I never felt like it was that difficult. It almost felt like an extension of my baccalaureates program.

          The PhD was much more intense. In the course work part of the program, it was only discussion-intensive seminars. We had A LOT of reading but knowing the content was the easy part. For me, the hard part was discussing the ideas in the content in the abstract, identifying the gaps in research, and devising ways to generate timely and relevant new knowledge for the field (I am in an applied science field). The research part was nerve-wrecking too, but my advisor provided good one-on-one support to get me to the finish line.

          Compared to the PhD program, my masters was a walk in the park. The masters had a defined pathway of getting to completion. The PhD was harder, as the pathway to completion was much more undefined and open ended. Part of the requirement of getting the PhD was finding the pathway, if that makes sense.

        5. Artemesia*

          PhDs differ from not much different in demand than undergrad work from poor programs to spending all night in the lab or library and devoting your life to a narrow band of arcane research. Some PhDs are easy — time consuming but easy and some are extremely difficult. There is no answer to the question about how hard ‘they are’ — only this particular program. Ideally PhD is a research degree for people who are rather single minded about a field of study — they are driven by a quest for knowledge. But plenty of programs are just trade school or credentialing.

        6. L.H. Puttgrass*

          In my program, there was a mix.

          The core classes, which were all at the Ph.D. level, were hard. For example, our Microeconomics professor told us, “You learned all this in undergrad, but now we’re going to do the math.” That made rather a big difference.

          But we could also take certain high-level Master’s courses as electives. Sometimes we had the same workload as the Master’s students, sometimes we had extra. All of them were quite a bit easier than the core Ph.D. courses.

        7. David*

          It actually strikes me as a little odd that your real questions are about the classwork. Like a few other people have said, classes are typically a minor component of a PhD program, probably more “prep work” than anything else. As far as I know, a PhD program is more like a research apprenticeship. So I’d think what should matter more is how you feel about researching a specific topic to an extremely deep level, to the point where you’re likely to become the world’s leading expert on it. (Unfortunately that particular “I’m the world’s leading expert on X” fact is not one you can break out to impress people at parties!)

    18. Another Academic Librarian*

      How I decided-
      Offered a full ride for a low residency PhD in Librarianship.
      Loved the idea of it, mobility, new challenges etc.
      Had an academic librarian job that did not require one. Any promotion/salary increase would have to be going to another institution.
      I was in my late forties.

      I decided against-
      PhD tenure track librarian jobs are scarce.
      I would have to move.
      Often not required for academic librarian positions.
      Time: How did I want to spend my time. I already contributed to my profession through research, writing but all of it was my choice.

      1. Another Academic Librarian*

        Oh AND Tuition reimbursement/ class fees were all considered taxable income.

        1. AnonyAnony*

          That’s a good point to take into consideration. Organizations might offer tuition waiver, tuition remission, or tuition reimbursement. It’ll be important to know which benefit is offered and the tax implications of each.

    19. Anon Anon*

      I would have said “go for it” except for your con number 4. All the pros are good, and I don’t think 8 years is too long to spend on studying something cool. (And if I am putting it together right, you can’t do this program at the compressed or standard rate because the funding only allows for part time studying, which might actually make it less stressful especially when you can combine some of the class-work with work-work?)

      But Con 4; if you aren’t feeling any excitement for the actual day-to-day student-ing, it sounds like it might just be additional work and stress you don’t want. If, for whatever reason, you can’t complete the program (you change jobs, they stop with the tuition reimbursement, you have to drop it because of new commitments, etc.), will you deeply resent the stress/lifestyle impact from the years you took the classes?

      With the tuition assistance program, is it possible for you to take the classes without applying to the degree program? If that’s the case, could you attempt the first semester of the 8 year schedule as an experiment to see how it would be? (Or are they for those enrolled in the program only?) If you apply, get in, do one semester, and then decide it’s not for you, are there financial consequences or reputational consequences? Because, I would say the one semester experiment would be worth it if there were no consequences…

      1. 30ish*

        Exactly! PhD research is something you need to be passionate for. People who are not usually do not finish.

    20. ffs*

      I work with academic librarians and am always amazed at how little actual librarian-type work some do with students/instructors. Non-librarian types really really dislike picking up the slack, but maybe your situation is different and the PhD effort won’t negatively impact your coworkers or other duties.

      1. Potential Info Science PhD?*

        I do a tremendous amount of work with students and instructors. However, scholarship and professional development are both requirements of my job too, and this would completely fulfill those requirements.

    21. LegalEagle*

      I’m not an academic but one of my hobbies surrounds me with academics and the general consensus is if there is a subject that you really want to learn more about, and devote a lot of time to understanding and reading and writing about, then get a PhD. But all of them told me (when I was thinking about pursuing academia) that if I wanted a PhD for possible job opportunities or advancement, to skip it, because those things aren’t guaranteed. It sounds like you have a slightly stronger guarantee that it may lead to advancement, which is a plus! But it also doesn’t sound like you’re particularly stoked to do research or coursework in this field beyond what you do in your day to day, and I think that’s fine, and an indication you should wait.

      I don’t know how long since you’ve been just working and not working and doing school, but if it’s been less than five years, I’d put in at least five years of just working, without anything extra on your plate. Give yourself a chance to recharge, and maybe in five years, a PhD will seem like a less daunting prospect!

    22. AnotherLibrarian*

      MLIS is the terminal degree in library science, so I would only go after a PhD in “Information Science” or whatever they are calling it today, if you really want to do the research and you really want to write the dissertation. It has to be worth it to you to do the work, otherwise I think you’ll burn out wicked fast.

    23. Parakeet*

      I will say re: Con 4, that for the PhD program I did, and the ones I’m familiar with, the coursework only lasts for a relatively short portion of the program (and if your master’s is in a relevant field, maybe even shorter). After that it’s research and the activities (publishing, presenting, maybe grant applications, etc) that go along with it. And teaching, if you’re funded by a TAship, but it sounds like you’d by funded by your employer.

      Eight years is definitely really long though.

    24. Foila*

      There’s a “pro” missing, which makes me think you should not do it: you don’t mention wanting to actually do the degree at all. No “I’d love to have a reason to dig into this topic”, no “the classes sound fascinating”.

      Without thinking that the process itself sounds fun, just wanting to be able to put the letters after your name, it sounds like a slog. For years.

    25. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Some people love learning for learning’s sake and would be tickled over this arrangement, however long it took, as long as it was funded.

      But 8 years (assuming part-time) is a LONG time to commit if you’re tired of studying and not sure the payoff of the doctorate really would matter. It sounds to me you’re already falling into the latter camp? If the prospect doesn’t make your heart sing to study, it’s probably best to pass on it.

    26. MassChick*

      What happens if you start and give up (change plans) a few years in? Will your tuition still be covered or would you have to pay it back? This might be something that I would factor in – not because it gives me an out, but because I’ve learnt that life happens along the way.

  4. Ageism*

    Women in tech and others looking to counteract ageism in your job search…any tips or tricks to share? I’ve already shaved older work off my resume. I had hoped to take advantage of the fact that I completed my master’s more than a decade after I completed my bachelor’s, but I don’t see a reasonable way to list the former graduation date without also including the latter. Other ideas/concepts welcome.

      1. Another person again*

        I leave my graduation dates off too and no one has asked during the interview process.

        I have been asked for college diplomas/ dates a couple times as part of a background check but that’s through HR and the job has already been verbally offered at that point.

      2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        Second not including graduation dates on your resume…for any degrees or certifications.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I leave the dates or my degrees off entirely, for the same reasons.

    2. mreasy*

      Agreed on taking off grad dates & early jobs. I actually just sent in a resume going back to 2006 and thought I should have limited it further as it probably indicates I’m in my 40s…which I am… I think you’re doing the right thing here.

    3. Veryanon*

      I don’t include graduation dates on my resume, and I’ve shaved off any experience that occurred before about 15 years ago since it’s not really relevant to what I do now.

    4. PX*

      I just list my Masters degree and havent had any issues with people asking about where/when my bachelors was.

    5. Hunnybee*

      I did the same, at the advice of a recruiter. I literally shaved anything off my resume that was older than 15 years ago. Its a shame, there was some stellar work on there, but ageism is a very real thing. Even among my WOKE younger colleagues, they’re brutal to the older generation.

      You can leave graduation dates off of your education as well, fyi. People do it all the time on LinkedIn.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      61 y/0, here. Not in tech but just an observation. Try to keep yourself as current as possible on as many subjects as possible. The man who used to repair my computer was 80 y/o. He had forgotten MORE than I will ever know about computers. He passed, unfortunately. But he kept working (running his own biz) because people counted on him to be up-to-date and also to work in a cost effective manner.

    7. Lady_Lessa*

      Watch out for on-line applications, though. Many will NOT let you skip dates for HS, college, advanced degree graduations.

      Other than that, you are doing exactly what I did, when I was job hunting in my 60’s, as a chemist.

      I also found that some good external recruiters helped also.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Re: Lady_Lessa,

        IME, most companies don’t require you to add your graduation dates when you fill out an app in their ATS. IME, the ones that do sometimes did it for specific roles. I had one company do that (for the role I applied for, it was required but for many others, it wasn’t) and it ended up being a strange interview. I didn’t pass the initial phone screen. The same recruiter I spoke with reached out on LinkedIn a year later, encouraging me to apply for the same role. Not even set up a call, but to apply. I asked about setting up a call and no response.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I just put zeros in if it lets me. or 1000 if it doesn’t. It’s obviously a placeholder, but if anyone asked, I would just say it isn’t relevant when I finished college (liberal arts and social science, both of which no one cares about), and then I’d start talking about my recent certification.

        I’ve only had to provide college transcripts at government-related jobs. An internship I applied to when I was still matriculating wanted high school transcripts also, but that was for the police department. The only thing they didn’t ask for at that point was a hair sample!

    8. Despachito*

      I have no helpful advice here and I know what I am going to say may sound disruptive (and I apologize for this), but this seems to me rather adjusting to ageism than counteracting it.

      I understand that you are responding to an existing situation, not an ideal one, and that the situation probably is that candidates over certain age are automatically dismissed, and I also understand that practical issues have sometimes to overcome the idealistic ones.

      But if we try and dissimulate our age, isn’t it in fact accepting ageism? Like in the case of women and people of color, considering “older people” generally as less capable is WRONG. If we are able to successfully fight sexism and racism, and if it would be awful (or at least I hope so) for people to be forced to dissimulate they are a woman/a person of color to get a job, why would it be different for older people?

      Sorry for the rant, I know I haven’t answered your question, but I am also no spring chicken and I feel that my work is getting better with the years of experience. I just refuse to accept that my age automatically means I will be a worse worker, because it doesn’t. And if I try to dissimulate it, I sort of admit the ageists are right. We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, why should we be?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree with you, but we still have to navigate a world where older candidates get dismissed before employers can sit down and talk with us about that experience.

        1. Despachito*

          I know, that was why I was talking about the ideal world versus the actual one.

          I am just extremely pissed off about the situation, and I refuse to feel ashamed because of my age, just as I refuse to feel inferior because I am a woman.

          (Not a helpful answer again, I know, but I had to say this.)

      2. Ageism*

        I don’t know what to tell you. My landlord and the power company don’t accept the moral high ground in lieu of payment.

  5. Spicy Tuna*

    What are your thoughts on taking unplanned calls at work when you’re already on the phone? (Disclaimer: This question is low-stakes, and I’m using stronger language than my actual feelings to get the point across.)

    If I’m already on the phone, I am not putting the existing call on hold to answer a new call. It’s wasting the time of the person I am already talking to, and it feels like people are wasting my time when they do it to me. If I call a person who does not answer the phone, no harm done, I’ll leave a voicemail with a time window when I am available for them to call me back.

    However, I see the opposite happen all the time. I know people who will pause conversations or step away from meetings to answer an unplanned call from anybody: client, colleague, employee. It strikes me as rude every time. The person calling didn’t reserve your time, I/we did, so why are we the ones that have to wait?

    Could this be a generational thing? In my personal life, people my parents’ age or older do this all the time. I wonder if it’s going back to old habits from before Caller ID.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think it is generational – your “before caller ID” comment nails it. My mother (over 70) was notorious for taking phone calls when I was a kid, regardless of whatever else was going on. But since the advent of caller ID she’s completely comfortable with letting things roll to voicemail or go unanswered.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        Yeah, I feel like part of it has to be the Caller ID thing, but I also see a lot of people under 40 do this so I can’t be sure. I’m late Millennial/early Gen Z so Caller ID been around for as long as I can remember.

      2. Smithy*

        The caller ID piece almost had me go in the other direction – where there’s an increased likelihood that you know exactly who it is, and therefore that it’s someone you *have* to take a call from.

        The vast increase of spam callers has certainly led to even my mother being more willing to screen calls – despite never setting up a phone book, but rather still memorizing the numbers of who calls regularly. However, the people who call me cold/and I can see who it is…..those are often who I am willing to take the call from urgently. Or not.

        Beyond those who actually have emergency response jobs, I do think that answering those calls often falls under the sense of what qualifies as urgent in any given job/social setting. While often it can be a dynamic of seniority, I think more often than not it’s the dynamic of who or what has the leverage to warrant the response of “when I say jump, you ask how high”. And even if you intellectually understand why, that dynamic can be irritating.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      I personally will mute myself and step away to take a call IF it is a) a doctor’s office that I’ve been trying to get ahold of, or b) someone who would normally never call me calling–there’s a high likelihood that’s an emergency, if it’s not a butt dial. I’m fairly young, for context.

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, this is where I land on it too (early 30s, for context). This is especially true if it’s someone I’ve been playing phone tag with for weeks and it’s the sort of thing that really can’t be handled by an email. I also think it’s industry-specific; I’m an attorney and some days are so packed with calls that I feel like people are usually sympathetic to phone tag troubles.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        I’m in my mid-30s and would also land on this. Unless it’s something where I’m waiting on, say, news about a relative in hospital or it’s someone who would normally never call me during work hours (like my parents or my sister) – because in that case something Very Bad has happened – then it can wait.

      3. Quinalla*

        Yup, this is how I approach it. My current meeting, etc. is my priority unless it is someone calling me back where if I don’t pick up, it isn’t just a simple call back or yeah something that might be a legit emergency like school or my Mom calling when unexpected.

      4. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yes, there are a few people whose calls I will always take. The kids’ schools, for instance. I am a pretty dedicated employee, but the weekly status meeting can manage without me for five minutes.

      5. mreasy*

        Yes, exactly – only the potential emergency callers which at my age includes my parents.

    3. kitryan*

      Personally, I don’t have a hard rule- just how urgent each call is or is likely to be and how easygoing each caller is. So, if I’m working out a low stakes non time sensitive issue with a friendly colleague and get a call from someone senior who doesn’t call me frequently, I’ll ask to call the person I’m on with back later and take the new call. But if what I’m currently talking about is an urgent issue or the person I’m talking to is more senior than the new caller, then I’m likely to stay on that call and either send an email to the new caller asking to talk later or to call them after wrapping up the current call.
      In most of my jobs I could usually tell how urgent an incoming call was likely to be based on the person in question and what was currently going on, so this isn’t even somthing I’d be calculating out – you could just tell.
      Of course, if I’m on a call and the new caller doesn’t show up on caller id, then I’m definitely not taking the call as then the new call’s more likely to be about my nonexistent car’s extended warranty.

      1. kitryan*

        And for the generational aspect, I’m gen X so we only didn’t have caller id or cell phones when I was in grade school really – by the time I was in high school, most phones (but not all) had a caller id display or were cell phones, so for all of my work history and a lot of my personal history you usually knew who was calling.

      2. Despachito*

        This is how I see it as well – I would rather not interrupt the existing call except for cases you are describing – if I assume the new call is urgent and cannot wait, and there are very few of these (a doctor’s office, and hypotetically a very close person about whom I reasonably assume may be in health trouble). But these are so few and far between that it would definitely not look like an intrusive pattern.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I do think it’s (broadly speaking) a generational thing, in that if you came of age in a time without caller ID/voicemail, you learned to always pick up the phone because it could be important. Nowadays there’s no logistical reason you can’t let a call go to voicemail, but the etiquette sticks around to an extent.

      1. quill*

        Also the time before caller ID was the time before everyone had an email address. So calling on the phone was the fastest way to get information, and sometimes the only reliable one if a person got too much physical mail.

    5. Mockingjay*

      My project lead does this to me all the time. I think I’ve had two calls in the last three years in which he didn’t drop me to take what he considered a more “important” call. (Or forget the call entirely.) Mind you, these are scheduled meetings (teleconferences) that he set up in the first place. I used to follow up with him to complete business but quickly gave up. He’s really disorganized, a bit of a chauvinist (I’m a woman), and is terrible at managing teams, so he’s in crisis mode every day. I can’t fix him.

      But yes, I agree it’s rude. Of course there are exceptions – big boss or someone you’ve been trying to reach forever – but those should be rare.

    6. Sandy*

      For me it depends on the person and situation. My company is very hierarchical. If the SVP of HR is calling me then I’m going to take the call, because she likely outranks whoever I’m speaking with unless it’s one of the higher-ups in my department. Even then, I would likely say “Mary is calling me, would you like me to take the call?” and actually ask before doing so (but I’m very junior). If someone from a law enforcement agency is calling, I will probably also take that call, because more than likely they want to serve a subpoena or arrest one of our employees. There are also certain people evaluating certain situations for me at my request, and those might actually be urgent or emergent if they’re calling instead of emails. So at least in my position, company, and industry, having a black-and-white “I never take a call if I’m on a call” policy wouldn’t work.

      1. bratschegirl*

        “If someone from a law enforcement agency is calling… more than likely they want to… arrest one of our employees.”

        You cannot leave us hanging there! Must. Have. More. Details!!

        1. Sandy*

          Unfortunately it isn’t as exciting as it may sound on paper. I work in a company with several thousand employees, so periodically law enforcement will try to serve them with subpoenas and we have people who are charged with various crimes. Generally if the subpoena is in regards to a divorce, we tell the LEOs that we don’t facilitate service on our employees for something like that, but if someone is being brought in on something like domestic violence or for a murder charge, then we’ll allow LEOs into the building and figure out a way to get that person downstairs, usually under the pretext of their badge not working or Human Resources needing some forms signed.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I will pick up the phone if it is a call likely to be an emergency (kid’s school, one of my siblings who never calls my office, etc.) or if it is the big boss. I also explain why I am taking the call to the person I am talking to. Otherwise I ignore it. I agree that the person I am already talking to has priority.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      Unplanned doesn’t always mean unimportant. It CAN mean “emergency.” For me, it would depend on who was on each call and what the subject of the ongoing conversation was.

    9. Dinwar*

      Depends on who calls. There are a few people I always pick up for, because they’re that important to me and they don’t call for minor things. I also almost always pick up for field team members. The last thing I want to experience is “I tried to call, but you didn’t answer, so we did X, and Y got hurt….” This is a VERY real possibility on my job, not mere catastrophizing.

      A lot of that is the role. My role has always been to keep field projects moving, and the single most important thing I had to deal with at any time was whatever was going sideways in the field. Other phone calls are important, sure, but ultimately we make money by field work, and our highest risk task is field work, so that’s what my focus has been for the past ten years. It was pointed out this week that this is no longer the case. I’m supposed to lead the people who keep field projects working–which means growing them to the point where THEY jump on the phone calls.

    10. KnockKnock*

      Very interesting – I’m 25 and I would not pause a phone conversation to pick up another call, but I always pause in-person coworker conversations to take client calls (unless it’s a really important coworker conversation.)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Growing up there was no call waiting nor caller ID.
      After a bit call waiting became a thing.

      But this was a time where a phone call was important, almost an “Event”. It was really the only quick form of connection people had to each other. That phone call could be to notify you of an accident or other emergency. It was a bfd. If I had a dime for every time I heard, “This could be so-and-so. There might be an emergency. I gotta go.”, I’d be pretty comfy financially right now. So yes, in that era most people disconnected from the first caller to answer the second caller. (The second caller could not leave a voice mail that option wasn’t common.)

      Long distant calls were a big deal. You paid by the minute for the call. I remember racking up $300 per month in phone bills. If someone called long distance you knew some one else died or something. You HAD to answer that call, no choice.

      Currently, I have friends my own age- that I have had to argue with about answering every single phone call. Old habits die hard. “If you know it’s a scammer then don’t answer- drrrr….”

      We had minor problems with crank calls. Some of it was pranks but some of it could get nasty. I remember a nasty situation where the police informed my father that it would take two weeks to get a court order to put a tracer on our line. Two weeks. Meanwhile the idiot was calling and threatening us multiply times a day. The police suggested we don’t go anywhere alone- stay together or stay with people we know. sigh.

      It was a very different mindset, but it fit the technology available at the time. It took me about 2 years to convince my friend to not answer the phone if he did not recognize the number. Old habits die hard.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Grew up in the same era. At one time, my mom worked as a hospice chaplain, and before call-waiting, she had a separate pager when it was her on-call time, so if that went off, she would always end a call (with me, and anyone else). After call-waiting, she’d tell me at the start of the call that she was on call, and if call-waiting came through, she’d click over to the other line–if it was a patient, she’d come back to me to say she had to go; if it was a friend she’d tell them she was talking to her daughter and would call back. It became less of a thing later, when I was VOIP, as the long distance no longer cost extra, but it was always hospice, family, friends as far as priorities (and sales calls didn’t rank at all). To be honest, I kind of liked the pager system better … it’s sometimes tricky to see who is calling when your call waiting goes off, and trickier to bounce correctly between the two.

        From a work standpoint, I have never had a call come in that trumped the one I was on, so I have no issue letting second call hit voice mail (and if caller does not leave a vm, I won’t call back).

        I do remember when we had a training with the department getting MBTI typed, there was a video which supposedly featured an introvert and an extrovert trying to have a meeting (face to face) with extrovert’s phone going off constantly (and extrovert taking each call, and it was always chatty non-emergent calls) and introvert kept saying “maybe we need to reschedule this” and then introvert’s phone rang, he looked at it and then put the phone down (face down), and extrovert being boggled by that. Honestly, that didn’t seem like a legit introvert/extrovert thing, but that the so-called extrovert was just being rude.

    12. Generic Name*

      I normally let the incoming call go to voicemail, with rare exceptions. For example, I was on an impromptu call with my coworker, and my lawyer called with an answer to a time sensitive question I had, so I apologized to my coworker and took my lawyer’s call.

    13. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think it depends on your job. At my Job I’m the admin for the front desk. there are 2 of us for most of the day but early morning and later in the afternoon its just one person. We have one line but if you are on a call it will beep and show another call is coming. I never put the person on hold to answer the other call. They can leave a message or try again later.

      What bugs me worse is when someone calls. gets the voicemail, and then instead of leaving a message, keeps calling. One time it happened 3 times in a row while I was on the phone with someone. It was the same person each time and they never did leave a message. And I am 100% positive that the phone system was working properly so they just needed to leave a message.

    14. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s generational. And it CAN be rude, but depends on the situation. If I’m expecting an important call, I will pause, apologize and take that call (and If I know I’m expecting a call soon, I will warn the person that I’m currently speaking to). If it’s someone that rarely calls me, I would probably pause again, thinking it may be urgent. But if I don’t recognize the number, it’s someone that calls regularly, or the call I’m currently on is very important, I’d let them leave a VM and call them back.

    15. SnappinTerrapin*

      For the demographic data point, I’m eligible for social security.

      I have wondered for decades who thought it was a good idea to invent a phone that would ring to interrupt an existing phone conversation. In ancient times, we had a remarkably useful bit of technology to inform the caller that we were already using the phone. It was called a “busy signal.” That alerted the caller to the need to hang up and call back later. The answering machine (predecessor to voicemail) afforded the caller an opportunity to leave a message, so the other party could return the call and be prepared for the conversation.

      Having said that, I will check caller ID when a second call comes in. Depending on who is calling, and how likely it is that their call may be time-sensitive, I do occasionally ask the party to my current conversation to either hold while I check for urgency, or to allow me to call them back in a few minutes.

      I’m not sure how much of my attitude is attributable to general crankiness, or how much is attributable to my age and past experience. I suspect some of each.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I almost forgot. It was also possible for a caller to call the Operator, explain that it was an emergency, and ask them to interrupt the call. When that happened, both parties to the initial call understood the gravity of the situation.

        If that process was abused, it was both a social faux pas and a criminal offense, so that reduced the likelihood of someone crying “wolf” to get attention.

        1. Random Bystander*

          And when there really was someone who had pressing reason to be reachable, even if the phone was otherwise busy, there were other options, like pagers (my mom was one of the hospice chaplains, so they rotated who was on call). So if she was on the phone with me (long distance), if her pager went off, we knew we had to end the call because a hospice family needed her. After call waiting, she always had to click over to check (then come back to let me know if it was hospice).

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Back when cell phones charged by the minute or half minute, I used a pager for other people to reach me. I assessed the urgency of returning the call by knowing who called. If I didn’t recognize the number, it was generally a low priority.

            But I didn’t have either until the mid-80s.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      We only had busy signals when I learned to use the phone and no answering machines, voice mail, or caller ID. If you didn’t answer or couldn’t make it to the phone in time, you missed the call. Now get off my lawn! :P

      But seriously, in basic front desk customer service, the call you’re on takes priority. The reason for this is that the caller cannot see what is going on in the office. Variations:
      –If many lines ring in at once, answer them in turn, ask each caller to hold, and then go back and deal with them in order (line 1, line 2, etc.).
      –If you’re helping someone in person and the phone rings, it’s permissible to answer it and put the caller on hold, if you can do it quickly.
      –If someone comes in while you’re on a call, acknowledge them and they can wait until you finish, unless it’s a firefighter coming to rescue you because the building is aflame!

    17. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It’s a bit generational.
      And sometimes its rude if the differences are between grade levels (I had a manager who would constantly interrupt our 1×1 meetings by taking calls and leaving me to sit there waiting). But other times, it might actually be something really important or emergency in nature and justified.

    18. Vio*

      Personally I’d apologise, decline the call and mute my phone. If I thought it was something important enough that I had to answer then I’d apologise, excuse myself and take the call somewhere private/quiet. My friends and I have an agreement that if there’s an emergency and our call isn’t answered we immediately redial (and only in an emergency). So far we haven’t needed to use this often, but it’s a simple way to ensure that we can all decline calls safely while still being reachable for an emergency

  6. Green Snickers*

    Is anyone familiar with a new law in NYC that requires employers to run background, references before making a formal job offer? My friend was just told this by a company when she was expecting the formal offer. I have never heard of such a thing and I’m wondering if the company is leaving some new rule up to their own interpretation because it fits for them? I don’t see anything in the news about it either

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are industries that require this (like banking and securities trading). And of course plenty of companies in that business are in New York.

    2. bee*

      This is in fact a thing now! I hadn’t heard about it either, but i just did some reading and it’s basically to prevent discrimination against people with a criminal record — they have to do all their non-criminal background checks before an offer, and then can only do the criminal background check after a conditional offer. I think the reasoning is that it removes any plausible deniability of a company rescinding an offer after a combined background check and saying it’s about a reference or something, even if it’s really about the person’s record.

      1. Alex*

        If they aren’t allowed to rescind and offer based on a record…why bother checking the record? I’m not sure I understand.

        1. bee*

          So, they can rescind an offer, but they have to justify why the crime would be disqualifying to do that specific job, and give the applicant time to respond. And they’re required to take a lot of factors into consideration, like how long it’s been since the crime, and if the person was under 25. I’m not a lawyer! But this is my layman’s understanding

          1. NeutralJanet*

            I know that that’s the case in Philadelphia, though I’m not sure of the exact specifics–a criminal record can only be taken into account if it’s directly related to the job, meaning that if the job is in accounting and you have a non-violent drug offense, you’re fine, but if you have an embezzlement conviction, you’ll probably get the offer pulled.

      2. Accountant*

        That’s a “ban the box” law, but it doesn’t sound like what the OP is describing since it specifically requires that you wait until *after* a conditional offer to do certain screens. And it doesn’t require any specific screens to be run.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Not in the city, I live upstate.

      It looks like this protects the job applicant. I had a friend who got an offer, she accepted and she gave notice at her current job. The company clawed back the offer when they found a bankruptcy on her record. My friend ended up totally unemployed.
      The place she applied was a retail chain. smh.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Wow that is just horrible. I hope your friend was able to find another job. I seriously don’t understand why jobs check credit reports and such. I can understand for some jobs where you might have some type of fiscal responsibility and they don’t want you to embezel money or to be blackmailed into making offers or something. But there is no reason a cashier or the receptionist should need that level of clearence.

        1. Cj*

          Department stores and convenience stores are the most likely to have credit card fraud, most generally credit card readers. There is a huge potential for fraud there.

          However, I also don’t think a whole lot of people that file for bankruptcy commit fraud of any kind. Since their debts have been forgiven (except their student loans, course) they have a lot less reason to steal money that someone who still has a bunch of debt.

  7. Kira*

    I’m somewhat new to the workplace and working in professional/office environments. My company offers 3 weeks pto every year, and unused hours roll over. But is it unprofessional to use all my pto hours in a year? I was hired over two years ago (right before the pandemic) and because of it I have only taken a week or so off each year, sometimes a few days here and there. This year, I’m planning to use my full 3 weeks plus an extra week that had rolled over from 2021. My manager, when I told her about my vacation plans, balked and told me that “it looks bad” to take so much time off, and that most people here don’t use all of their pto hours. Others here have taken 2 weeks at a time before, but seem to use only 1-2 vacations a year and many have high pto hour balances from prior years.

    The problem isn’t coverage, I have colleagues who can cover for me (and I can cover them, if they ever take vacation…) I’ve been at this company a while now so I thought it would be okay to take a few vacations this year. For reference, I’m taking one long trip in May (2 weeks) then a week in August and a week in October… so the time is spread out too. In future years, I would like to use most if not all of it… because what’s the point of a benefit I’m not allowed to use fully?

    1. Candle Knight*

      This is one of those things that seems to depend REALLY heavily on company culture—I’ve worked for places where everyone used all their allotted PTO and were told to take it if they hadn’t yet (my current workplace) and places where people would get huffy and annoyed if you took “too much” time off. Your manager might be right in that in THIS workplace, SHE thinks it looks bad, but it’s not an inherently bad thing and if you have it, it is your right to use it!! Workplaces get to factor in PTO as part of your comp, and you’re entitled to all of your compensation.

      tl;dr no, it’s not inherently unprofessional, you may just be in one of those workplaces where PTO is discouraged, which is crappy.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Seconding that it’s crappy – but I would just let her balk and not worry about it, personally. In reality, there might be some intangible consequences to using it (annoying your supervisor, seeming out of sync with company culture) but it is your benefit to use so you can weigh how much you care.

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        I used to work somewhere where I had 25 use or lose vacation days a year, and they did encourage you to use all of them.

        However, when I asked to once take two weeks at once – my boss visible winced and said that was uncommon. Rather they preferred people to closer to 5 days at a time, even if that meant you were taking all sorts of random single days off towards the end of the fiscal year to take off your entire 25 days. She did ultimately let me take the two weeks out of the office provided I work remotely three of the days…..

        It was ridiculous, but it was also the culture of that workplace where the last quarter of the fiscal year, you had all sorts of people working 3 or 4 day weeks to burn through their vacation time and they were apparently unable to figure out any other use for the rest of the year.

          1. Smithy*

            I didn’t…..and instead had to take off three random days at the end of the fiscal year.

            The weird upside to the process was that it did teach me the value of taking off random days. So for shorter vacations that were over a long weekend (i.e. leave on a Thursday, return home on a Memorial Day Monday), taking off the Tuesday to run errands/do laundry became a luxury I really go used to. Because once you did get to that fiscal year crunch – you were often forced to take random Tuesdays-Thursdays because people had already tried to take all the Monday/Fridays to at least give themselves long weekends.

            In this case because there were so many vacation days and they did ultimately want you to use them all, I’m not going to nominate this as the worst thing ever. But it certainly was an internal politics case of “just because you should be able to do X…..”

    2. Everything Bagel*

      Your manager is ridiculous. You are entitled to that time as part of your compensation. Is she next going to tell you that most people pay back some of their salary? I’d take the time off and not think twice. The culture of not using pto there needs to change. Your planned schedule is totally reasonable to me and is actually similar to mine most years.

    3. ecnaseener*

      It’s not unprofessional to use the benefits you’re entitled to. But your boss clearly doesn’t see it that way, so you’ll have to decide whether you’re okay with that.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Side note though: does your sick time come out of the same PTO bank? That would explain why most people leave a few days in the bank at all times.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Yes, keep a few days in reserve. I also have PTO and allot 3-4 days for illness, plumber calls, etc.

        2. DataGirl*

          This was my question. Everywhere I worked PTO was for both vacation and sick days. Using all of it on a vacation is risky as that leaves no time off for getting sick.

          1. Everything Bagel*

            Ah, yeah, this makes a difference. But I thought the manager seemed to be saying that taking a full week or two just isn’t done, regardless of how much time is accrued. That’s some bullshit.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, if the question is “is it unprofessional?” the answer in general should be “no.” But, in this case, it kind of doesn’t matter what we all think is professional or unprofessional. If your manager thinks it’s unprofessional… well, your manager is wrong, but your manager is the one doing performance reviews, and we aren’t.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Ugh. Boo to your manager. It’s a toxic work environment to NOT use all of your PTO. I consistently don’t use mine and it’s an awful, terrible practice and I’m begging you to not fall into that trap!
      A benefit is there to be used.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      It definitely depends on company culture. It shouldn’t be a bad thing, but can be at some companies. In my company, sufficient notice matter. A 2 week time off is fine, but not if mentioned shortly before the time being taken. I’ve done 2 weeks, plus two 1 week periods in the same year with no issues.

    6. AthenaC*

      It depends on your office / industry. In my industry I wouldn’t say it “looks bad” to take all your PTO … but it’s not a good look to choose to take PTO during a pre-scheduled, all-hands-on-deck time of the year.

      From what you’re describing, I don’t see a reason your manager should be complaining, unless the timing of your PTO (as compared to your coworkers) is causing more extra work for your coworkers than “normal” coverage. That would be the only thing I would look at; outside of that it sounds like your manager is being unreasonable.

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I’m assuming you work in the US. Not using paid time off is such a troubling expectation! You only get this one life, so please take your time off. I get being worried about how it looks, but eventually you’ll move on from this job, and it won’t have mattered. I hate that this is part of US culture! We need to take time off!

    8. Banana*

      Your manager sucks. PTO is a benefit that you earn and are entitled to use. It can be tough for managers to plan coverage in years like this one, where employees have banked some hours from earlier in the pandemic and are looking to take more vacation this year, but that’s why we make the big bucks.

    9. anonymous73*

      Your manager is a jerk. It doesn’t matter if nobody takes all of their vacation. Those are benefits provided to you so that you can USE them. If your manager (and the company as a whole) makes you feel guilty for taking all of you PTO I would recommend searching for a job that encourages work/life balance. I’ve worked with people who have trouble using all of their PTO, but at the same time I wasn’t discouraged from using mine.

    10. Mr. Shark*

      You should absolutely use all of your vacation. I don’t let them talk you out of taking 2 weeks at a time. I have a regularly scheduled 2 weeks that I take every year, and even though people give me a hard time about it, they have accepted it. Sometimes they’ll talk longingly about not being able to take 2 weeks at a time, but that’s honestly their problem, not my problem.

      The PTO is your benefit, and having 2 weeks off gets you back refreshed and ready to go, if you want to do that.

      I also don’t worry too much about a backlog when I get back. If there are things I need to do when I get back, I’ll do them. Otherwise, I rely on co-workers to cover, just as I cover them when they are out.

    11. Public Sector Manager*

      I can’t decide if is crappy or really crappy.

      If your PTO is annual leave, a combination of sick leave and vacation, it’s kind for your manager, knowing you are new to the workplace, to let you know that you should keep a cushion for illnesses. But your manager didn’t say that. Your manager said it would look bad. That’s crappy.

      Now if your PTO is vacation only and you have a separate bucket of hours for sick leave, then that’s really crappy. It’s deferred compensation. It’s earned. It’s what justifies part of your wages because the worse the PTO policy, the more they should be paying you. You should be able to take all your PTO in a year if you want.

      I imagine your situation is the latter and not the former.

  8. Retail Not Retail*

    I wrote about “light duty” conflicts a couple weeks ago – my doctor sent me another letter with further restrictions and I sent that to HR. Well, the main HR person I was communicating with quit so I now have to talk to the head of HR. Who lost the first restrictions letter.

    I can’t do work in my department but HR seems to think I can and I have no idea what to do. My boss says take more, longer breaks but I can’t keep doing that – someone is bound to disapprove.

    I left work early today because the few tasks my boss has given me were hurting too much and I’m not here for that.

    What can I do? Do I need to get with my doctor AGAIN? (I gave HR another copy of the original letter.) Do I just take literally a fifteen minute break every hour?

    1. Construction Safety*

      Your doctor needs to outline almost exactly what you can and cannot do and for how many hours/times per day each component can be done.
      Sit – 4 hours per day
      Walk – 1 hour at a time – 15 minute break
      Carry 10 pounds – 4 times per day, not more than 15′ at a time.
      Stairs – 4 times per day, minimum 1 hour break per climb

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        The letters are that detailed, but HR says they’re not and they need more clarification. HR called my doctor yesterday and naturally didn’t get a call back by the end of the day.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      What do the specifics of your restriction letter say? CAN you work in your department if you take a 15 minute break every hour? If that’s your restriction…people disapproving doesn’t matter. From what you say here it sounds like your boss is supportive of you doing what you need but you don’t like the optics, but that’s the whole point of having the doctor’s note. Take them if you need them.

      If you literally can’t do it even with the extra breaks (which are an ADA reasonable accommodation – so if the breaks are technically possible, and with them you meet the specifics of your letter, HR is correct) then yes you need to go back to your doctor and get your letter amended to be more restrictive.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        You’re right about concerns over optics. One of my restrictions I run into within say 2 hours of doing what we’ve cobbled together – only walk 3 miles per shift – and then I’m not supposed to walk more but I also am not allowed to just sit there the rest of the day.

        1. OtterB*

          Not allowed by who? Is that a limitation that can be worked around with the doctor’s letter? Is there work you can do while sitting, or are you literally just sitting on the sidelines at that point?

          I’m sorry your employer is being unsupportive about this.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Hmm. If the job is on your feet and walking, they may not be able to accommodate the 3 mile limit. And that may be why the stalling on HR’s part. They may want to be absolutely certain that they cannot accommodate without undue hardship.

          Get a hard copy of your job description and read it carefully.

          I know of a workplace with 3 employees. Part of the job was routinely lifting 20-25 pounds. One of the three employees could not lift more than a few pounds. Since the employees often worked alone and the lifting was necessary through out the day, it was super challenging to figure out how to take lifting responsibilities off of that third person. The employees and management were super concerned because they did not want to lose person #3. It ended up being a drawn out process because of how concerned everyone was in preserving #3’s job for them.

          My best thought is that if the restriction is for a limited time, that might help them to figure out something for the time period.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            It is temporary following a hip surgery – light duty until June. My initial restrictions wiped out 90% of what my department does and then the second letter finishes it off.

            HR seemed frustrated by the time more than anything else but I’m not jeopardizing my recovery. I was on leave and allowed to come back with restrictions instead of being out until 100%

            1. Lady_Lessa*

              Could you take short term disability leave instead of the restricted work load? That would allow you to heal properly without work stress.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, it sounds like between the two letters they can’t accommodate as the letters involve 100% of your job.
              Do you have suggestions on what you could do for the time being? I have often thought it’s unfair, but sometimes we have to provide them with an answer in the form of making a suggestion about what to do.

              1. Retail Not Retail*

                They’re transferring me to another more sedentary department/job – I did that the last 2 weeks but HR said no, I needed to be back in my department. That was 4 days ago but now it’s go to that department.

    3. Purple Cat*

      If your boss says “take more longer breaks”, why “can’t” you do that?
      You literally have a medical need AND your boss’s approval. That seems like all of your bases are covered.

    4. Retail Not Retail*

      Oh well nevermind I’ve been transferred to a much more sedentary department/position. I filled in there the last 2 weeks and just got told I was needed in my department instead. But now I’ll be in the other one so! Better than the one we discussed yesterday as a potential short term spot. (Standing in one spot all day.)

    5. MacGillicuddy*

      Make a copy of whatever you need to send to HR. Also take notes on what your boss etc tells you what to do. Keep a file of all of this in case you need it in the future. And keep copies off-site.

  9. BalanceofThemis*

    I had a not great conversation with my boss yesterday. Basically, I’m not meeting expectations, she concerned about my work in the future, as I seem to be struggling with some things, and my job is just going to get busier, etc.
    Unfortunately, I was given no guidance for improvement.

    Because of this I have decided to start job hunting, I would rather leave voluntarily.

    My background is in program development for museums and non-profits, but since I’m apparently not good at it, I think I need to transition to something else. I also have research experience, but it’s mostly academic.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for types of jobs I could be qualified for that wouldn’t mean starting over at entry level, and taking the pay cut that comes with that?

    1. VV*

      What about something in fundraising (if you want to stay generally in the museum/nonprofit sector, and higher education institutions always have big fundraising shops too). You should be able to leverage program development experience for that, and there are a couple directions you could go — membership, donor data management, donor stewardship/relations, prospect research.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      OP, do YOU feel you’re not good at this? Have you done this job successfully elsewhere? Did she give you specifics about what isn’t going well or where you have failed at something?
      I would just caution against thinking you have to do a major career shift if this is only a “current boss perception thing”

      1. balanceofthemis*

        I don’t feel successful at the role. Which could be a combination of burnout and my boss being frustated with me. I did a very similar job at another non-profit right before I got this job, and while that boss liked the job I did, I wasn’t happy in it.

      2. balanceofthemis*

        The only specific she gave me was that I don’t take enough iniative and need to work more independently. But the thing is, there have been time I have tried to take iniative in the past and been told not to, so I’m not sure where I should, and where I shouldn’t.

        Other than that it’s that I seem to struggle with and be stressed by the work load. The main source of my stress there though is that every couple months I get an event dropped on me with only a couple weeks notice that I have to do logistics for and oversee, with no extra resources. And when I try to explain our limitations, I get told to stop making excuses and just do it.

        Add to that I had 6 day work weeks for 7 weeks in a row, and I am burning out on that. And there’s no end to that in sight.

        1. Not Today, Friends*

          Oh honey. I feel for you. That’s a bad boss. I had one of those, and it messed me up for years. Whatever I was doing was wrong, even if it was exactly what she told me to do the last time she randomly chewed me out. She’d tell me I was bad at my job but could never tell me why. (I am actually exceptionally good at my job and have been a rock star everywhere else I’ve worked.) I’m glad you’re taking steps to get out before it completely wrecks your sense of self worth.

        2. Someone in BioPharma*

          You’re not doing a bad job, it sounds like your job is bad and they are blaming you so that they don’t have to take responsibility for it. If you were really doing a bad job then they your manager could have given you specifics.

        3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

          That doesn’t sound to me like you’re “bad” at the job per se, but that like the board is not organized well and the communication and planning and budget are not well defined to even allow you the chance to do your job well.

          I get it though if you’ve just had enough of the museum/nonprofit world though.

        4. Chauncy Gardener*

          Wow. I totally agree with the above three comments. And I do get you’re burned out on the field. Ugh!

          Maybe an admin role at a company (not a non-profit)? If you’re well organized and can coordinate stuff, it might be a good fit. Or possibly HR?
          Good luck and please try to take care of yourself. It sounds like you’re in a rough patch right now.
          This too shall pass!

    3. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Two questions to ask yourself:
      1: Are you getting all your basic needs met? Is your health okay? Are you safe and happy at home? If the answer is no, look at that first. So often when we are struggling professionally, its a reflection of not having needs met on a primary level.
      2: Are you “not good at it”, or have you not received an opportunity to be trained, invested in, managed, and strengthened as a program development professional? Don’t let one person’s (bad) opinion and lack of management skills dictate your whole career nor your sense of professional self. If you like this area, seek out a position in something similar, in a junior role or program support role. Look for companies that have a history of strong management and opportunities for development.

      1. balanceofthemis*

        My personal life is very stressful. I have been having health issues, my family has health issues, and I’m playing unpayed therapist/sounding board for that. My boss is aware of this, and tells me I can’t bring my problems to work.

        There was no real training, it’s a coordinator role, and I’m experienced, so I’m just supposed to figure it out. But it’s been like that at every job I worked. The problem is I can’t just find another position like this unless I relocate, and for numerous reasons I don’t want to do that. That’s why I need to look outside the field.

        1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

          IMO you gotta get your needs met first. A good option might be to find an administrative or program support position on a state/city/university level, which often comes with union protection, and decent benefits. The work/life balance tends to be really good, and as often there is dysfunction (which is often!!!!), the union protection means it doesn’t get too toxic usually.
          Good luck. I have been fired for poor performance many times, and it sucks. Eventually I found a position that gave me the security to get my needs met and didn’t punish me when I was struggling, and THAT is what made me a successful, thriving employee.

    4. officeolivia*

      Hey there, I’m an ex-museum person who’s switched over to for-profit art management and LOVING IT (especially the income…). If you want to stay somewhat adjacent to art, look for fine art services, exhibit design companies, art advisors, etc. I could see account management/project management being a good fit.

      Other things I’ve dabbled in and considered: national, state, or local level government agencies (look for historical commissions, public arts, and cultural agencies if you want something more related to your background); event management; grant management and/or grant writing; technical writing; university admin…

      Lastly, there was an AAM ask the readers post yesterday about finding out what jobs are out there. I bet you’d find good advice there!

    5. Maze*

      With your background, I would suggest looking into research administration. I’ve been in the field for 20+ years, predominantly on the pre-award side (in a nutshell, helping researchers get grant funding), but there’s also post-award (helping the researchers manage their grant funding) and compliance (export controls, Institutional Review Boards, and the like). Pre-award is very deadline driven and it can get hectic. However, no one expects you to work weekends or more than 40 hours/week, and most folks who enter the profession have never heard of it before, so hiring officials (in my view) are looking more for people with the right skills who are willing to learn. If you work for a college or university, there are usually opportunities for advancement. Plus, more and more academic institutions have come to terms with the fact that this job CAN be done very efficiently in a remote setting. I’m happy to talk with you offline if you’re interested.

        1. Maze*

          If there’s a way to contact directly through our profile names, I’m not seeing it, so contact me at jumieges at gmail dot com. Thanks!

      1. Insert witty name*

        This is the same jump I made from working at museums into post award. I have a MA in museum studies.

        I found it a fairly easy shift, but it also involves working with some BIG personalities. We have some PIs that are high drama. I’m at a R1 school so I found there was more job security and $ than staying in the field. I had project management experience to so that really helped.

        Some of my colleagues in development made a similar move, but they had a pay cut so that might not be for you.

    6. jane's nemesis*

      Do you agree with her that you’re struggling/not good at it? Or are you just not getting the support and resources you need to be successful in your current position? Because I don’t think you have to let the opinion of this one manager who won’t give you guidance to improve change the course of your career. Unless you agree with her and want to forge a new path, that is!

      1. jane's nemesis*

        I’m sorry, I didn’t scroll down far enough and see other people already covered this!

  10. Hedgehog*

    I’m feeling very uninspired at my workplace. Brief job history: I went from doing direct service work with kids/families to experiencing major burnout and pivoting to more of an HR/admin role at a nonprofit with a similar mission. That was at the beginning of the pandemic, and now I’m going on year 3 and I have very little motivation. Does anyone have any advice on how to get your mojo back at work? I like the workplace and my coworkers, it’s just the work itself that I am uninspired about.

    1. Catcher in the Rye*

      I wish I had advice to offer. I’m in the same boat- I was in a role providing direct services to students, burned out, and switched to an administrative role I feel very uninspired about even though the change in type of work is something I needed. I find that caffeine and consistently taking my psych medications as prescribed helps some, but I empathize with this question and want you to know you’re not alone.

    2. MoMac*

      So similar to you, I spent 30 years working with kids. And I have had burnout off and on throughout my career and found ways to combat it. If you’re trained to have therapeutic relationships, HR is a bit removed from that. What about taking on an intern who is studying HR or organizational development? That will give you an ongoing relationship as we trained for while also giving you the opportunity to rediscover your role in a new way. Get your feelers out there now because September will come soon. Good luck.

    3. Redux*

      Volunteer! I do so occasionally and while I find it very rewarding and the main goal is that I am helpful, it is also a nice reminder to myself as to why I left direct services. Emotional fatigue and vicarious trauma for me. I am now in a policy/admin role and it’s a good fit in terms of distance from the direct services burnout but still connected to the mission.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This almost sounds like boredom? Not sure.

      Any job will start to feel robotic as the years roll by. A few ideas I have had:

      1) Find/develop a new project/small venture at work.
      2)Look around to see if you can learn something about an aspect of your job. This could be anything and it could include taking a course or reading a book or more. You might stumble into something that could be your next career step, also.
      3)Check out the job listings. Maybe it is time for a job change.
      4) I had some days that were pretty crappy and nothing worked. On those days, I would try to scare myself- “I can’t disconnect from my job because that will mean I could LOSE my job.” Then I’d list off all the rotten things that would happen if I lost my job. Some days I just had to give myself a kick in the butt. But that kick could also be enough to make me job hunt more regularly or work on one of these other options here.
      5) Check out your personal/at home goals. It’s pretty normal for us humans to want growth, to want improvements in life. But all the growth does not have to occur at work. If you have a stable income there are advantages to that. I took a stained glass course. I never would have done that with out that job and that level of income. But I also set specific life goals. One was buying a house. I hit 4 out of the 5 goals before I left that job. There were days where thinking about reaching one of those goals was the only thing that got me to work that day.

  11. Minimal Pear*

    How sweaty is too sweaty for the workplace?
    I walk to work, the weather is heating up, and we’re starting to discuss returning to the office. I already go into the office once a week, and will continue to need to do so. I also walk around town running admin errands for work. Today, after running some of those errands, I noticed a slight sweaty smell on myself once I got into the office and took my mask off. No big deal for now, since I’m usually in the office alone, but I wanted to check if I need to worry once other people are in the office.
    In favor of it not mattering:
    -it’s just a slight sweaty smell, not full BO as far as I can tell
    -very likely we would have masks and social distancing
    -I’m prone to sweat + overheating for medical reasons and already dress to accommodate that (natural fibers, stuff that won’t show sweat, etc.)
    -my coworkers are pretty chill and I’m not client-facing, if we even end up meeting clients in person to begin with
    -humans are not robots, it’s fine! this is also a fairly liberal/crunchy area (my hairy, unshaved legs have never been a problem in various workplaces)
    In favor of it mattering:
    -I’m allergic to fragrance so can’t cover it up at all
    -could be it IS full BO and I just can’t tell (I don’t have anyone I could ask to sniff me and check)
    -I know I can still smell well through a surgical mask, and inevitably someone will have to look over my shoulder to teach me something or vice versa
    -draws attention to the fact that I don’t have a car and am taking much longer to run admin errands in town because of it (I am paid hourly so this matters)
    -if I have to get into a convo about it, may have to disclose my disabilities… but this workplace doesn’t need to follow the ADA, although state laws may apply
    -I’m young, female, queer, disabled, a new hire, the only hourly employee, part time, just generally a bit weird etc etc and am wary of things that make me look unprofessional
    Basically: do I need to do more to fix it or can I just leave it be? And if I need to do more, what can I do? Thanks!

    1. Hedgehog*

      Can you just bring a stick of deodorant in your bag and pop into the restroom to use it when you notice you’ve been sweating? I’m sure they make some that are non-scented.

        1. mreasy*

          There are some great “shower wipes” you can get that do wonders. I had a brand called “goodwipes” which have incredibly annoying marketing but are SUPER effective, used when I had surgery and couldn’t shower but also sometimes when I’m out and feeling gross.

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            The goodwipes shower wipes for me through a grueling 48 hours that involved an early am flight across the country, which was immediately followed by getting ready for a wedding for which I was a bridesmaid, a day full of photos, the wedding itself, a brief snooze in a hotel room (I wasn’t about to waste precious time showering), and another cross country flight home. I have sensitive skin and struggle with fragrances to the point I have learned to make my own lotion and lip balm.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I definitely could, don’t know why I didn’t think of that! The deodorant I normally use wouldn’t really work for that, but I think it comes in a faster-drying formula as well, and that container is smaller and more transportable too… Not an anti-perspirant, but should at least help if I smell. Lol I do feel like the sweaty smell was mostly coming from my boobs though!

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Wet wipe under the boobs! Antiperspirant can be used there, too, though it seems difficult to find something that is truly nonfragrance.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            Yeah I feel like every time I’ve tried an antiperspirant I’ve gotten a full poison oak-level rash, which is TERRIBLE when it’s in your armpits.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I live in a hot and sweaty climate, and take public transit – showing up for work dripping with sweat is common in summer, and not just for me. Also, my office mate *does* smell bad in summer, so I sympathize with wanting to be careful (it’s not a full BO thing, but a sort of musty odour).

            – hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol under the armpits to kill the odour, then a new layer of deodorant can work wonders for stinky armpits.
            – a quick wipe under the boobs, back of the neck and other sweaty places with a damp cloth when you get back can cool you down and get rid of sweaty smells.
            – on really sweaty days, you can always change shirts when you get to the office, or before going out to run errands.
            – maybe TMI, but if you’re sweating through your underwear, a change of underwear when you get back, or a panty liner when you’re out can keep things fresh.
            – make sure your clothes are really clean – if the clothing is a bit musty from storage, or not drying quickly enough, or has dried in sweat, it smells stronger when your body warms up. A soak with some vinegar in the water before washing can help a lot (my husband, a heavy sweater, does this with his shirts in summer).

            1. DinosaurWrangler*

              Musty odor can come from your clothing if you have a front-loading washer that’s prone to gathering mildew around the door seal.

        2. Mockingjay*

          I use nontoxic, unscented cornstarch powder around my boobs in the summer. Don’t need much but it really helps. If you find wet wipes irritating, a clean damp washcloth in a ziploc bag is the O.G. for cleansing. Wipe yourself down, pop it back in the baggie, and take it home for laundering.

        3. Marny*

          There’s a product called Bust Dust from Megababe that is specifically for boob sweat and is REALLY helpful. They sell it at Ulta and on the Megababe website.

      2. Everything Bagel*

        This and maybe wiping your under arms down with a damp cloth first might be all you need. I keep spare antiperspirant at my desk for when I go walking at lunch in the summer.

    2. Gracely*

      You could possibly pack an extra shirt/undershirt to swap into. Or get some deodorant wipes?

      Maybe put extra deodorant/anti-perspirant in the areas you feel are sweatiest, to see if that helps counter it?

    3. OTGW*

      My go-to is usually if you can feel sweat running down your face/arm pits, you might need to do some touching up. If you’re concerned, or it’s an especially hot day, could you pop in the bathroom after your errands/you get to work and use baby wipes? Keep an extra thing of deodorant at work and pop that on before errands?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah it’s not all the way to feeling it running–I get that more from anxiety, not from exertion unless I’m doing something really strenuous. I just felt… noticeably damp lol
        (Also, love the username! Great show.)

    4. NeonFireworks*

      I had a similar problem – I’m allergic to fragrances and even react to things that are supposedly unscented. On a friend’s recommendation, I started going to Whole Foods to get a deodorant spray called Doctor Mist that is some kind of magical European concoction of distilled water and some minerals. I didn’t think it was going to do anything, but even though it feels like water, it somehow keeps me from smelling like anything at all, even after the gym.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      Is something like a bike or electric scooter an option for you? I seem to sweat less when I’m biking rather than when I’m walking. Or, since some of these errands are for work, would work reimburse you for transportation for errands you need to accomplish during the day?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I’m pretty sure I would die if I tried to learn to ride a bike again–the last three times I’ve tried to learn it hasn’t gone too well. I’m not sure what other transportation I could really use? The bus stops aren’t placed in a way that would substantially cut down on my walk, and it seems silly to pay for a taxi for such a short distance. We don’t have much uber/lyft in the area, so it wouldn’t be reliable.

    6. Meg*

      I like using a swipe on an alcohol wipe on my pits when I’m stinky before deodorant…I can’t remember the science but that eliminate the odor or kills the bacteria (or something like that). I would keep some of those and deodorant and work and just reapply. I would also have extra masks to swap out, but that feels more like a general comfort thing.

      I can’t tell if you’re just worried about the smell or the appearance too, but I have one of those tiny personal battery fans that I sometimes use to blast my face when doing makeup. That might help stop the sweaty face faster. I also was influenced by a podcast last summer to buy like a personal neck fan, and while it felt a little silly it truly helps haha. I’ll link it in a reply–might be worth it for comfort alone if you’re often doing errands or commuting on foot.

    7. No longer rank*

      So there’s a company out there that talks about finding a way to “stop bacteria from farting & leaving you stinky,” that sells unscented lotion deodorant (not antiperspirant) in “stick” & tube forms you can use on “pits, feet, & privates.” They sell wipes, too, but those are scented (& don’t work as well for me.) I definitely still sweat.

      I’ve been impressed, the smell is much improved. LumeDeoderant dot com. It’s only available online so far. If you like it, subscriptions are a bit cheaper.

    8. Smithy*

      Depending on where you are/how hot your summers get – I just recommend having a full change of undergarments and/or top. If you’re only going into the office one day a week, if you plan on an outfit change that’s similar (i.e. one black shirt into another black shirt), you’re far less likely to draw attention.

      My experience with this was around walking to work in DC in the summer. Based on the distance, my body and DC in the summer – the issue wasn’t so often smell as it was wetness of sweat. Essentially, the worry of showing up at work “damp” and then any associated issues with wrinkles, being unkempt, potentially smell, and also general discomfort.

      Again, depending on distance, heat, etc – just being able to put on a clean shirt can honestly do wonders. And while the wipes/deodorant are helpful for smell, if you’re staying in a sweaty shirt – they will only fix that so much. At the height of DC summer, I would do one outfit into work and had a towel. Dried off with the towel (had a wet wipe or two), and then put on a full new change of clothes. For running errands though – just changing your shirt would likely do it. But I’d be your strongest advocate in having a full wardrobe in a gym bag at your cube.

    9. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I’m a sweat-er and a transit/walk commuter. I commute in a different set of clothes that I can sweat in and then change at the office. It won’t help for errands mid-day, but it takes care of half of it. I also use Certain-Dri, which is like a miracle to me since otherwise I sweat giant puddles down my sides, but might not work for you.

    10. Katiekins*

      I sweat easily and when I go for a mid day walk during work, rather than change my shirt AFTER my walk, I take off my “work shirt” and bra and put on a different shirt (and a tank instead of a bra) FOR my walk. Then come back, wipe my pits and lower back and under my breasts with a washcloth or even paper towel (in a single stall bathroom), put on a little deodorant, and then put my work shirt and bra back on. I also have a hand fan that fold up so I can fan myself dry (and cool down a little) before I put my work gear back on, because I tend to keep sweating for a bit even after I stop exerting myself.

      1. Katiekins*

        I also bring an extra pair of underwear I can change into after the walk if I get super sweaty.

    11. RagingADHD*

      In the summer, when I had to look professional, I would powder all over with cornstarch before getting dressed (cornstarch baby powder if you don’t mind the smell, plain food cornstarch if you do, they work the same).

      Then I used it to touch up if needed during the day. Works great.

    12. Silvercat*

      All three of the meds I’m on cause sweating with even mild exertion and I live in the desert, so it’s pretty much always hot. In my experience, unless you really stink most people will write it off as just being human. Cornstarch on parts that sweat a lot can be a miracle. I just use the cheap stuff meant for cooking on underboobs, stomach, and between thighs, etc.

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        I recently discovered that the hand sanitizer I make (80% solution) works wonders to get rid of body odour (I don’t sweat that much and really am not a fan of deodorant or antiperspirant). Put it in a small misting spray bottle and squirt it on a couple of times and Voila! It kills the bacteria that creates the odour. Not recommended on freshly shaved pits, though.

    13. LilyP*

      One summer I walk-commuted to an internship and I would wear a tank top undershirt for the walk and then put on my button down when I was around the corner from the office and I felt like that worked well — if you don’t feel like changing your whole outfit, maybe losing a layer when you’re out walking would help you keep cool?

  12. Spearmint*

    How do you suss out whether a job will have good work-life balance or not before you accept it? What do you look for in job ads or ask in interviews?

    Some context: I’m considering transitioning from working in state government to the private sector for a variety of reasons. Work-life balance is really important to me, but I haven’t had to worry about it much in the past because I’ve always worked in the public sector. So I don’t know what to look for in job ads and interviews to screen out jobs with long hours, an inability to disconnect, low flexibility, or scant vacation time.

    I will say that I have pretty high standards for work-life balance as well. I want to be able to leave work at work at the end of the day without any pressure to check email outside of business hours. I would be willing to work late occasionally (like once a month or less), but not as a norm, and I’d be upset if weekend work was ever required. And, I would ideally want 4+ weeks of vacation time (if sick and vacation time are combined, I’d want more like 5 weeks), though I could settle for 3 weeks if everything else was good.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I’ve just asked “what hours do people generally work?” And follow up as needed, are people usually done at 5? Etc.

      And talk about how you value work-life balance, you’ve found you do your best work when you can have a strong boundary between work and home, etc. This shouldn’t turn off the employers you want to work for.

      1. JustA___*

        Seconding this, especially if you can ask someone who is in the position you’re applying for/a similar position. I wish there was a way to find out before you apply, but unless you know someone working there, it’s unlikely you can get that information. I asked this during interviews at my current job, and was told, with the exception of occasional early meetings I would be able to leave at 5 pretty much always–and I could leave early on early meeting days.

        This has held true, but I was so glad that I asked because it was tough getting used to the idea that I was allowed to leave at 5 after working somewhere that DID NOT consider that I should have a life outside of work.

    2. Nicki Name*

      You can ask directly about expected availability on vacation.

      For day-to-day stuff, I ask if there’s a particularly busy time of year, and if there is, what kind of hours people are working then.

      I also ask what hours people are typically working, and when the last time was that they had to work outside those hours.

    3. LuckySophia*

      For “how to suss out…” I’m pretty sure Alison has addressed that topic previously; you can probably search the Archives and find some advice.

      One thing I can add: if the company is global, ask about the nature and extent of cross-region collaboration. Example: an employee of a global East Coast US firm often has web conferences with colleagues in Asia from 7-9 a.m. or 7-9 p.m. Multiple such meetings in one week, piled on tope of the normal workday, are…exhausting.

      Overall, it sounds like you’re expecting to find a private-sector employer who will offer you the same conditions as your government job. While I think there ARE *some* companies who are committed to employee work-life balance, broadly speaking, I don’t think that’s the norm.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Can you tell me about a typical day/week in the department?”
      “Are there specific times of the year that are crunch times? How is that managed?”

      Keep an eye on Glass Door and other employer review sites.

    5. ArtK*

      Hint: If the company web site or job description says “work hard, play hard,” there is no work/life balance.

    6. Sunflower*

      If it’s important to you and given what you’ve outlined above, I would just be blunt and say the type of role you’re looking for and let them self-select you out. You can ask all the questions but people are going to be vague and avoid giving you any direct answers about expected hours. You’ll probably hear a lot of ‘we generally work 9-5 but longer hours during busy season/crunch time/completion of a big project’.

      The reason I advise to be blunt is peoples’ idea of WLB is really going to depend by industry. I’ve worked in BigLaw and consulting and now I’m going into tech- reasonable WLB in those sectors are very different than others so just because someone says good on a website without additional context, it means nada. Also keep in mind that things can change. I started my last job with pretty good WLB (I usually left by 530-545 everyday) and it’s been insane since COVID with no signs of hiring more resources.

      I’m not sure what your main motivators for looking are but generally, it’s extremely hard to not be required to be flexible to work later hours at least a few times a month (this is sourcing from what I know about my friends/family work schedules). This could mean staying later or logging on later to finish up some stuff before next morning so I would really weigh that with the other motivating factors are. Good luck!

    7. Distractinator*

      If you only have interviews with management and HR, first the policy question “how many vacation days per year and how is rollover handled?” then the culture questions, these are in increasing levels of feeling comfortable with your interviewer: Do most staff use all their vacation days in a year? Are there a lot of people who hit the rollover ceiling? Culturally speaking, do people typically take 2-3 days at once or a 2-week travel?”

      And similarly for constant-contact type questions, start with policy and move toward the stickier questions as needed “Do a some employees have a work-issued cellphone?” Ideally that answer include what types of roles might have one, and what they’d use it for. Then if you need to dig into it ask about exceptions “so once the field project was done did they give the phone back?” and “Are there cases where employees use their personal cell phones for work? Do managers typically have employees personal phone contact info?”

  13. OTGW*

    I need Excel tips.

    I think I could work in an administrative assistant position or something similar (currently working libraries) but I know zero (0) about Excel and all the jobs want at least some knowledge of Excel. Does anyone have/know any videos or such that teach specifically things an admin does? Preferably something that literally goes step-by-step (and free lol). Like, I saw something that was like “make a list” before getting into it but I just…. of what???? I am an idiot I need someone to tell me what to do lol.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      YouTube will be your friend! Just search. There’s so many demos of all of the things.

      For the super basics check out http://www.gcflearnfree.com — they’ve got some good tutorials on general digital literacy.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t have any specific videos I’d recommend, but you should definitely look into pivot tables, vlookups, and how to use formulas to identify duplicates.

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Look up “excel skills list” and find one with 10-20 skills on it, marked beginner level, then hit up YouTube. Chandoo is really good too. If you don’t have excel access Google sheets is good enough for the basics.

      I was you 8 years ago so I feel ya, but it’s mostly learning what excel’s capacity is and how to look things up.

    4. DataGirl*

      Coursera has some Excel classes that you can audit for free, and I’m sure other sites like LinkedIn, Udemy, Datacamp have them as well. There’s a site called Trump Excel that despite it’s unfortunate name has a good set of free classes.

    5. Veryanon*

      LinkedIn Learning might offer something. Or you can google “learn excel for free” and a list of resources will pop up (I just did this and it literally took 10 seconds). Best of luck!

      1. lemon*

        I’m sure LinkedIn Learning has tons of Excel tips. It costs $, but check to see if you can get access through your public library. I know a few libraries offer this.

    6. Rosengilmom*

      If you have a local library or community college, either would have both classes (possibly free) in person or online, and reference books / how-to’s l.

      1. June First*

        +1
        Libraries in our area offer “Gale Courses”, which are free online classes. Just need a library card!

    7. Mouse*

      I don’t have any specific resources, but the best thing to know about Excel is: you can do just about anything you could dream of with it, as long as you can figure out how to Google what you’re looking for! I would suggest finding a simple online Excel assessment or “quiz” and try to find the answers as you go by searching online to practice that particular skill.

      1. Fabulous*

        you can do just about anything you could dream of with it, as long as you can figure out how to Google what you’re looking for

        This! Any time I say to myself “there has to be an easier way to do this” there usually is with a formula or something and I can find several sets of instructions on random google forums.

      2. NeutralJanet*

        Thirded! People think that I’m an Excel wizard, but really, I’m just not afraid to Google “how to [do task that seems like it should be possible] excel”, you can find pretty much anything that way.

    8. Wow*

      I have used VLOOKUP and PivotTables a lot in previous admin jobs. Those two features are invaluable and you can do a lot with them. There are plenty of YouTube videos that explain them well enough too.

      Also, the text-to-columns feature (under the data tab) – if you have one column with “last, first” and it needs to be two columns “last” and “first”, this function literally does it for you.

      1. ND and awkward*

        Text-to-columns is also incredibly useful for converting data types. Use it on a column of numbers-stored-as-text and it gives back numbers, or use it on a column of numbers and select “text” and it converts them all to numbers-stored-as-text.

    9. Rational Lemming*

      I have used the Coursera Excel specialization and found it helpful! On the Coursera site – search: Excel Skills for Business Specialization
      There are a few courses in the specialization. They make it look like you have to pay for the course (and you can, to get a certificate of some kind) but there is a way to do it for free.

    10. DisneyChannelThis*

      MrExcel used to have a good blog on it. Not sure if that’s still around.

      Things to google/learn:
      split string aka text to column (use delimiters to make a cell into columns)
      Ctrl+e (autofill columns after doing one row, great for sep first lastname into two columns)
      remove duplicates (will save your mass mailer email list)
      mid/left/right (take only a portion of a cell)
      sum/min/max/median (turn excel into your calculator)
      standard deviation
      macros (automate your tasks)
      Vlookup (have one table populate itself from another table, even across tabs/workbooks)
      Date/Times (Excel hates dates. super annoying, but easy once you learn around it)
      conditional formatting (make missing data turn red automatically)
      import/export (tsv, csv, txt vs excel, transfering tables to powerpoint)

      Maybe learn:
      Pivot tables (fancier form of vlookup basically)
      VBA in excel with GUIs (make user fillable forms that turn into lists, automate your tasks even more)
      Templates (a lot of premade nice fancy budget sheets etc)
      plotting in excel (bar chart, pie chart, scatterplots)

      1. Other Alice*

        You’ll be happy to know that MrExcel is still up, that blog saved me many times when I needed some esoteric formula, but it’s also a good way of learning the basics.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Local colleges and jr colleges tend to have really good excel classes if you’re better with in person learning. Good luck!
      And don’t get overwhelmed. Excel is just a faster way to do math and stuff.

    12. Miel*

      The way I learn best is by doing! I’d recommend doing a few hobby projects in Excel (or Google sheets, which is free and practically the same!)

      Could you make yourself a monthly budget, with projections into the future? Analyze your healthcare expenses for the year? How about finding the historical weather data for your city and making graphs of it? Create a schedule for watering and fertilizing your plants? Analyze your Twitter followers over time? Create your own Sudoku solver?

      I guess what I’m saying is, do some useful or fun projects, and you’ll learn along the way! Best of luck!

    13. JustaTech*

      Microsoft themselves have pretty good online training courses in how to use their products, including Excel. Years ago I taught myself how to use Access (their database software) just using their tutorials.

    14. Catlady was here*

      I cannot recommend https://exceljet.net enough! My go-to for formulas and functions for years. They have a shortcuts page as well. Their tagline is “Quick, clean, and to the point” – perfect description. Have fun!

    15. KX*

      Our public library offered Lynda.com subscriptions for free. Definitely check there.

      I find youtube most helpful when I need help with a specific task just out of my reach, and books most helpful when I want an overview/introduction of something new.

    16. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      The Microsoft support website has so many great how to and such. You can also find some great resources on youtube.
      During Covid, I did a lot of professional development courses and took a whole set of excel courses. I got them free from my local library which has a partnership with Ed2Go, which does professional development online as you go classes. So check with your local library and even your local college, they might have professional development online classes

    17. Lady Alys*

      There is a YouTube channel called “ExcelIsFun” with 100s an 100s of videos, with whole series on different Excel topics. The guy who makes them all is a community college instructor and he’s good – demonstrates each step and shows the shortcuts too. I know there is a “starting from absolutely zero knowledge” series (I watched it all last winter as I worked out on my elliptical). Good luck – Excel IS fun!

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I made a career change, I took a class through my local community education program that was super cheap.

  14. Affinity groups question*

    My organization just formed a new disability affinity group, and I’m looking forward to participating but I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be doing. I’m curious about others’ experiences with disability affinity groups and whether you have any recommendations for a group that’s just getting started. Is your group primarily focused on advising senior management on workplace policies, or on educating colleagues about disability inclusion, or on connection/networking among group members? Do you have any recommendations for programming, resources, or speakers that have worked out well? Thank you!

    1. LGBTQ affinity group*

      Hi and congrats! This is exciting.

      I cofounded and currently help lead my (large) company’s LGBTQ affinity group. We do a mix of socializing, education for other employees, and advocating/ consulting for changing policies. We also do a little bit of external PR/ hiring conferences/ etc. Every group is going to have different priorities, and that’s ok.

      I’d recommend figuring out your group’s priorities; getting connected with other affinity group leaders in your company and in your region or field; and setting a few small goals for your first year!

      I will say, it can be tough to balance leading an affinity group on top of your regular job. Oftentimes people spend 25% or more of their time on the affinity group. This is a while thing… often unrecognized and unrewarded work. I guess just keep your bandwidth in mind, and if you can, leverage allies and the DEI or HR department to get stuff done.

      1. Affinity groups question*

        Thank you so much for your response and helpful advice – I really appreciate it!

    2. Nightengale*

      Our group so far has been frustrating to me. I am very involved in disability advocacy and in the disability community outside work and was hoping to find commonality. And my specific work is with children with developmental disabilities (I work for a huge health system so most people in our workplace are not specifically working in a disability related area.)

      So far, our workplace BRG mostly seems to be “feel good” stuff that make me feel terrible. It is mostly “person first” disability is such a small part of who I am people, where I come from the model of “identity first” disability is a huge part of me that cannot be separated from other identity aspects activism. No one seems interested in addressing what I see as major accessibility issues. No one seems to have heard of ableism. One of the trainings we had to take about disability was both factually wrong and insulting.

      I would love it if we were doing. . . any of the things you describe. Since you are building from the ground up, it sounds like you have the opportunity to shape the program into something useful.

  15. Forkeater*

    I’d love to hear from others in higher ed about student-staff relations on campus this year. I’m at a small friendly school and this year the students have been so incredibly hostile in a way we haven’t seen before, sending out all campus emails complaining demanding changes that are either already in progress, or against state law; putting up big posters in public spaces berating administrators by name for dubious things (not being supportive enough, for example, whatever that means). It’s really disheartening. I talked to someone I know at a completely different kind of school last night and she said they’re seeing the same behaviors from their students. Anyone else seeing this? What’s going on?

    1. Spearmint*

      Hm, my partner is a TA at a major public university and hasn’t mentioned anything like this going on. Maybe this is a small university thing?

    2. Gracely*

      I haven’t noticed anything like that at all on my campus, but we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the student experience on my campus this year (after a year and a half of mostly only virtual stuff, it’s both easy and way harder to get students excited about stuff).

      If they’re complaining about things that are already in the works, maybe it’s not being communicated to them as effectively as it used to be? Relationships that were solid before Covid have taken lots of hits, and that includes ties between student organizations and campus staff.

      But I think also, everyone is just more agitated and on edge than we were were pre-pandemic.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      I’m a student, though at a career retraining program and not a university, and it’s been pretty shocking to me how hostile a small number of students are to the staff, who are overall supportive and well-intentioned in my experience. I’ve seen this hostility build in real time in online spaces (esp student Discord servers) where one person will complain and others will jump on the bandwagon in ways that I just don’t think would happen as quickly in person. It just seems like any unmoderated online space leads to extremism. Even with something that starts as relatively small or benign where reasonable people could disagree, discussions spiral into fights where people feel they have to choose between two extreme, opposing opinions. A majority of students don’t necessarily agree with the vocal minority, but they tend simply to invisibly disengage from these online spaces.

      1. quill*

        In addition to the ongoing stress exacerbating everything, I do wonder if the rising political extremism in the US is spilling over onto campus. Especially since the extremists tend to be disconnected from the reality that there is a potentially deadly contagious disease in our midst.

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Perhaps. I think there is a sense among students that any institution is The Man and that they can prove their social justice bona fides by trashing the staff at said institution. Some complaints are 100% legitimate such as the observation that the school gave a LOT more attention during orientation week to the needs of just one marginalized group while totally ignoring others. Other complaints more closely resemble bullying such as when students tried to organize to get a staff person, a very young woman of color, fired after her first month bc she misspoke about a school policy (long story). Overall, students are extremely reluctant to recognize that staff are human and may make genuine mistakes—any mistake basically gets seen as a conspiracy. And it seems like this leads to staff feeling attacked and burned out, and slower to respond to the legitimate complaints that get mixed in.

          1. Forkeater*

            This is more what we’re seeing – we’re all very liberal here on my campus and in this part of the country. One of the examples going on here is a group of students personally and professionally attacking a person in a leadership position, who is a member of the same marginalized group these students belong to, for not doing enough to advance the interests of that group (their demands require us to break state and federal laws). It’s frankly bizarre. And when we tell them what we are able to do, that we are doing it’s like it goes in one ear and out the other and the next week there is more vandalism in support of their cause, and/or additional angry emails and newspaper articles. We are all on the same team working towards the same goals but they seem intent that we are “the man.”

            1. Alexis Rosay*

              This may be small comfort, but I will say that the majority of students in my experience are often not aligned with the shit-stirrers, especially on the more ridiculous claims, but are also not interested in standing up to them because they’re so toxic and vitriolic. Plenty of students just want to get their education, and do realize that staff are people who are often doing their best, but that’s not a pithy statement you can rally people around on Discord.

    4. yogurt*

      Curious as to what state you’re in? My campus has the opposite problem. Students are so disconnected from campus life and the school in general. We are also a small and friendly school. The small contingent of students who do participate are awesome but very small (less than 50).

      Does your school have a way for students to engage with the administration? Our president meets once a week with the student senate. At my alma mater, we had a student governing board, student trustees, representation at administrative committees, etc.

    5. AGD*

      Similar, but I don’t blame them in our case. Our administration has been doing a poor job of supporting students’ mental health, which was an issue already something coming out into the open with decreased stigma by 2018 and 2019, and which has taken a huge nosedive in the wake of the pandemic. The higher-ups also haven’t been as vocal and decisive about condemning bigotry as they could be, in my opinion. Undergrads nowadays, by my reckoning, are well informed about societal inequity, and aren’t going to put up with hemming-and-hawing or anything that reeks of discriminatory nonsense (for instance, many of the first year students are either LGBTQ+ or have known LGBTQ+ folks and grappled with how society treats them for all/most of their 18 years). I generally like seeing the students empowered to demand better, especially in places where they’re paying an awful lot for their education like the U.S. (I’m in Canada, where things are not so bad, except in most cases for international students). My sense is that it’s not necessarily different from 1960s civil-rights and anti-war activism on college campuses. I can’t speak for anyone anywhere else, but over here, I think the best thing the administration could do is listen and act. Friendliness and interpersonal harmony are a lot more likely when students are doing well and seeing their friends doing well also.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah, I’m curious about what the “demands” mentioned above are. In addition to the social justice issues AGD mentions, there’s also been major financial impacts that are exacerbated by the pandemic.

        Speaking just for my university (I’m a grad student), the covid experience has mostly been administrators telling us that there will be absolutely no extensions in funding despite everyone’s research being postponed for a year+, giving us an effective pay cut by stopping COL adjustments, telling us that we are absolutely not allowed to request that anyone wear a mask in any setting, and heavily promoting “emergency covid grants” of up to $100 that are competitive and must be paid back to the university within 2 months.

        Meanwhile, their social media is full of posts about how the endowment grew by record amounts last year and the president and football coach are getting raises. Students are angry.

        1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

          Oh my god this makes me so MAD!!! Especially knowing that the college will then take any opportunity to boast about the good work of the students they actively hindered in their education!!!!

    6. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Oh boy. Fortunately (???) I am at a commuter school with students who are allergic to their email account and I would almost be happy if they logged in, figured out how to send an email to the whole college, and then actually sent it.
      IMO this is an opportunity for leadership to work directly with your ASB and other student groups. Center the messaging around 1: acknowledge failing, 2: validating their frustration (even if their specific complaints aren’t totally on base), 3: being committed to doing what is best for the students, and 4: having these conversations in a way that is productive if they want a solution. Sometimes students (and people!!!) just want to complain, and that is fine!! It is a very hard time to be a human right now!!!
      One major issue I have seen is that students don’t always understand how long change takes. However, on the other hand, they have seen how quickly some issues were addressed over the course of the pandemic. And related, students do not always know who holds the power in decision making and policy. IE, colleges can’t just … give you more grants, but you can point students towards DoubleThePell.com and encourage them to get involved on that level.
      Ultimately, the more administration and leadership maintain separation and ignore frustration from the student body, the worse this will get. Good luck!!

      1. Forkeater*

        My institution is actually kind of famous for being student centered and we have done all those things, and done all those things all along. One example: students are on all administrative committees along with faculty and staff and have access to the same information the rest of us do. That’s why this is so odd. They can just come talk to us but instead prefer to blast out information as if they’re posting on social media instead of engaging with human beings that they all know by name and face.

        1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

          Boy that is a rough spot to be in. Your original question asked if others have experienced this, and we have not but I think our student communities are very different. I am so glad to hear your college has a student-centered approach, as I think that is what has made things easier on us here. We still get frustrated students, but they mostly just come to our central services desk and cry out of frustration (which, tbh, is what I probably would be doing).
          However, for undergrad I attended a school that had made some very bad choices administratively/academically/politically (and then responded to the backlash in even worse ways), where MANY students were hell-bent on complaining all of the time, and doing so in a way that was not purposefully disruptive (walk outs, etc) nor with solutions in mind. It is very annoying to other students who are just there to learn, or who understand the limits of an institution’s power. The idea of that being done via campus-wide emails seems like a nightmare.
          If students just want to complain and not work towards a solution, there is not really anything that can be done (besides change and hide the campus wide email aliases). I would just do your best to ignore what issues have been addressed, and lean on the student committee members closest related to the issue — students who elect to be part of the process tend to be committed to change in a productive way, and may have perspectives or insights to share. Good luck!!

    7. anonymous_girl*

      I work in medical education at a hospital and we are seeing this too!! I’ve been assuming it’s due to COVID exhaustion and trying to not take it personally. It can be hard at times though.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m a student at a big university and I have noticed this from my peers. There was an unpleasant incident in my class last fall and a bunch of other students, imo, blew it way out of proportion. This term one of those same people was in my class again and she tried to get something going against this prof.

      I’m a teacher as well so from a k-12 perspective I can tell you student behaviour is horrible and their parents aren’t much better. I just expect more from my peers and colleagues who are paying literally thousands of dollars for grad school.

      1. Rara Avis*

        My husband and I both teach middle school and empathy and kindness are way, way down . (And they’re already under-developed skills for this age group.)

    9. Dragonfly7*

      I’m not seeing this, but I may not be in the right lines of communication and don’t have close relationships with any students. We don’t allow students to send all campus emails already, and there are requirements to be able to even sit flyers out on tables let alone put up posters.

    10. Parakeet*

      A friend who is staff at a small college has told me stories about a subset of students being really hostile and aggressive about the fact that the college still has any COVID precautions, this year. I don’t know if that’s the same type of hostility that you’re seeing.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        The students in my son’s high school district just walked out in protest against the district office because it *removed* mask mandates and they want them back. About 4/5 of students are still wearing masks anyway, and boy are they livid that the remaining fifth don’t have to do likewise. They know all the facts about rising local caseloads and they see the end of the mask mandate (correctly, in my opinion) as a political decision that doesn’t have a sound scientific reason behind it. They are angry, and the school district is freaking out.

        I’m really proud of them. A bunch of them walked out a few weeks ago to attend a rally for climate justice, too. This isn’t just kids trying to get out of school for whatever; they are putting in the work on these things. Mostly, I just think the pandemic generation is much more in tune with social justice issues than the recent several preceding generations were at that age, and far more active in pursuit of change. This is basically a good thing even if sometimes they don’t get how to do it tactfully yet, or how long it often takes.

  16. Jenna Webster*

    I keep deodorant in my desk for just this reason. I don’t know if this runs into your fragrance issue, but I think there are a lot that don’t have fragrance. I think that if you can smell yourself, it will likely be more noticeable to those around you – especially if they need to be close for any reason. If even deodorant is a no-go, you might stop in the bathroom and use either wipes or a wet washcloth to wipe up on your return?

  17. aiya*

    Should I go on this interview?

    I’ve passed the initial 30 min recruiter’s call and the 2 hour skills/presentation-based panel interview. The next step is to doing 1.5 hour meeting with the team and managers to see if I’m a cultural fit. I’m hesitant about this job because it requires 2 days in office, where the commute would be 3 hours roundtrip. This branch of the company only has 1 client, who is a famous tech start up but is not profitable. I don’t know enough about the team yet to know whether I’d enjoy working there (hence the third round interview), but my second round interview was conducted with staff from a different office, and they were a bit cold in their demeanor. The upside to this position is that the salary is about 12K-15K more than my current position.

    I’m not in a rush to leave my current job. I know I’m being paid under market rate, but I like my team and my work. My managers are flexible with remote work / not requiring that I return to office despite the company’s new hybrid policy, as they understand that I live 3 hours away roundtrip. Remote work is really important to me, as I’ve done the 3 hour commute pre-pandemic and it completely messed up my health and my social/personal life.

    Even though I don’t really want an offer from this company that I’m interviewing with, my friend is saying that I should try to get an offer from them and use it to get a counter offer from my current company. But what if my current company sees my bluff and doesn’t counteroffer? Then I’m stuck with a new job that I don’t want? Or I awkwardly stay back at my current company for the same pay?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d at least do the interview. That said, no you shouldn’t bluff with your current company. That’s incredibly risky and terrible advice. I’d take the interview just to get more information and verify your gut instinct but don’t risk your current position over it.

    2. ecnaseener*

      If it’s just for the sake of a counteroffer, I wouldn’t bother. Allison has written about this a few times, it can make your boss forever see you as having one foot out the door. But if there’s any chance you might actually want the job, go ahead.

    3. Other Alice*

      I wouldn’t go just for the sake of fishing for a counteroffer, that could backfire spectacularly. If you’re certain you don’t want the other job, don’t go. If you want to stay where you are but you’re worried about being paid below market rate, you could approach your current employer and have a talk about bringing your salary more in line with the market. You don’t have to mention the other job at all. Alison published something just yesterday (“how to ask my company to pay me more if they want me to stay”) that is very similar to your situation.

    4. Everything Bagel*

      You don’t seem at all enthused about the new opportunity, even with the extra pay. It seems like it would be a waste of both your time to continue in this process.

    5. Can Can Cannot*

      3 hour RT commute? Not worth it.

      Are you far enough from work opportunities that all local in-person jobs would require a long commute? If so, focus on jobs that are completely remote. It might take a little while to find one, but you should be able to find one that also provides the salary boost you are looking for.

    6. anonymous73*

      Your friend is giving you very bad advice. It’s always a bad move to basically make a threat to get what you want unless you’re fully prepared to accept the consequences of them telling you no. If you’re not interested in the new job, don’t waste their time and withdraw. If you’re unsure then go to the interview before making a final decision. Personally the 3 hour commute would be a deal breaker for me. I did it for 5 years when I was much younger and single and there’s no way I could do it now.

  18. Flower necklace*

    Happy Friday! I have a question based on Letter #1 from yesterday. For those of you who are or have been teachers, would you consider the department chair your boss?

    For context, I am partly a department chair at a high school (I split the responsibilities with another person), but I don’t consider myself to be in a position of authority over the other teachers. At my school, at least, department chairs mainly do the admin work that’s needed to keep the department running. I occasionally assign work along the lines of “please fill out this paperwork” or “please cover this class,” but I don’t evaluate teachers, so I was surprised to see the letter writer refer to the chair as her boss yesterday. I definitely don’t see myself or the other chair that way. Is it different in other places?

    1. Gracely*

      Depends on the school. In one school I worked at, the department chair did have a lot of power/oversight for us–decided who taught which levels, they did an evaluation of everyone in addition to the ones done by the assistant principals. At my other school, it was more just the person who made sure department responsibilities were divvied out fairly and taken care of.
      The relative sizes of the faculty accounted for some of the difference, I think–we had at least thrice as many teachers at the first school, so it made sense for that principal to delegate more to experienced department chairs.

      1. Flower necklace*

        Interesting. That makes sense. My school is pretty large (we have about 2300 students, I think), but we also have admin outside of the assistant principals to help carry the load – people like the testing coordinator, attendance team, etc. I’m sure that helps.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I was a middle/high school department head and I would not consider myself a boss. The only supervisor type duties I had were running department meetings (4 people) and spot-checking that lesson plans were uploaded on time/following the curriculum, but I didn’t really have authority except to say “hey, you’re supposed to upload your plans before Monday” or whatever. I also passed on information/reminders sometimes, like if I attended a leadership meeting and there was an action my team needed to take afterwards.

      1. Flower necklace*

        Same – it’s really the lack of authority that makes me feel like it’s more of a “head teacher” type of role rather than an admin or manager type of position.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m in Ireland, so it’s different here and I was intrigued by that letter too. We don’t have department chairs and “heads of department” are generally rotated and nominal. They would definitely NOT be considered the boss of the department. Plus most people have at least two subjects and are therefore part of two or more departments.

      It’s a little different for me as I am a learning support teacher and therefore I do sort of consider the Special Educational Needs Coordinator my boss, as he makes out my timetable and assigns me students. Ultimately, my boss is the principal though. I will add that the principal does not evaluate us either. What evaluation is done is done by inspectors and on a very rare basis. You might have an inspection of your class say twice in a decade. I gather that this is different in other countries though.

      In general, in Ireland, the principal makes out the timetable but our school has a very large number of students with learning needs so the SENCO does the timetable for resource and learning support, though the rest is done by the principal.

      Class cover here is organised by the deputy principal. A head of department would have no authority over anything like that.

      I did consider myself posting a question along the same lines as you have.

      1. Flower necklace*

        Wow, that’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing! I am actually technically part of two departments because I’m dual certified and teach a subject that requires both certifications. However, like most of our dual certified teachers, I consider myself mainly part of our department (ESOL).

        I would love to be observed only twice a decade! I was formally observed twice a year for my first three years. After that, I’ve been informally observed once a year, with an additional formal observation once every three years.

        Like Gracely noted above, I wonder if the size of the school also makes a difference. My school is pretty large and my assistant principal oversees several departments. She’s also insanely busy, so it’s much easier for me to arrange coverage.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I definitely think size of school makes a difference. My impression is that schools in America are usually pretty large? My school is quite small – about 300 students. The norm for a secondary school in Ireland would probably be 400-600 students? Though they seem to be trying to amalgamate and make them larger now. We are getting a number of schools in the country with over 1,000.

          During our teaching practice year, when we are training, we are observed 5 times by lecturers.

          Once qualified, inspections are only by inspectors and those are random. They haven’t the power to fire anybody or to give written warnings or anything. They just visit a school, observe usually a specific subject (we are expecting a learning support one probably next year in our school, as we haven’t had any in…welll, at least the five years I’ve been in the school), talk to the teachers observed afterwards and then write a report, giving positives and recommendations. These are available to the public and are usually very positive. Our government’s website has them all available.

          Generally, in Ireland, you have to be in a school for two years before you get what amounts to a permanent contract. At the end of the first year, you have to reinterview, so if the principal is not pleased with you, they do not have to re-employ you. Once you have a permanent contract, however, the principal has very little power to fire you.

          1. Flower necklace*

            I’m not sure about schools in general, but my school is a mid-sized high school and has about 2,300 students. I teach 6 classes and a total of about 100 students. So, yes, there is quite a size difference :)

            We are put on a continuing contract after three years. I’m not sure, but I believe that makes it more difficult to be fired. Most teachers leave voluntarily.

    4. anxious teacher*

      This varies widely based on district! I’ve only ever worked in schools where my department chair was absolutely my boss – they do miscellaneous admin work, but they also evaluate staff, make PD plans, figure out the master schedule, supervise curricular projects, etc. My best friend, on the other hand, has had the exact opposite experience – his department chairs are more like what you describe. And both of us are public K-12 and teaching in the same discipline! It might be a regional thing (East coast vs West Coast), and I think the size of the district might have something to do with it (he works in a GIANT district, whereas my districts have always been much smaller).

      1. Flower necklace*

        Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I asked this question because I never knew there were schools where department chairs were responsible for staff evaluations. Yesterday’s letter makes a lot more sense now.

        I’m actually on the East coast in a large school district, like your friend. We’re the second largest in the state and something like top 20 in the United States. I can definitely see how that would make a difference.

    5. Rara Avis*

      After year 2, my department chair has been the only one who observes me. So she does have authority — but more of a team lead than a boss?

      1. Flower necklace*

        I see it as more of a team lead position, too. Even though I don’t do observations, my department is pretty friendly and open. I see most of the teachers every day and we chat regularly. I’m definitely closer to them than I am to our AP (who is awesome, but also very busy running the school).

  19. DataGirl*

    I have been dealing with indecision on how to continue with my career for a few years now and it’s recently come to a point where I have to make a decision, but none of the factors have changed so I still don’t know what to do.

    Basically, my background is in IT and I currently have a title that is an IT job and am paid based on that title but I don’t do any of the work that a DBA would do. I actually like my work- it’s relatively easy, mostly data analysis and data management stuff, but I’m not in an IT department and have zero direct access to the databases. I would be content to just continue to do this job until I retire (apx 20-25 years) except for two factors. 1) My manager is retiring and I don’t believe I will be able to work well with her replacement 2) The industry I’m currently in is notorious for laying off support staff. So far my manager has protected me through rounds of cuts but I don’t believe the new manager will have my back. So, I need a backup plan in case I need to leave this job.

    The problem is 1) I’ve been here long enough that should I try to get a DBA job somewhere else I would not be qualified- both to changes in IT and to my skills being super rusty. 2) I don’t actually WANT to be a real DBA anymore. I never enjoyed all the super techy stuff, I prefer the development/analysis side of things 3) I can’t afford a pay cut. I’ve looked into many adjacent careers- Data Science, Data Analytics, Research, Information Management, etc. and all would be a significant pay cut.

    So… any advice? I realize I’m going to have to suck it up and either go back to a role I don’t like or take a role I might like, but with a pay cut, but both those options are very problematic. I think though that I can’t count on my current job being stable for the next 20-25 years though, so I have to do something…

    1. Another Data Girl*

      Have you looked into data engineering? In my experience, data engineering and data analytics/analysis pay more than DBA, surprised you found the opposite.

      1. DataGirl*

        I’m currently just below 6 figures. Since changing direction would likely mean starting at a lower level job, everything I’m seeing when searching for salary ranges for data analysis/data science is in the 60-75K range.

        I will add data engineering to my list to check out, thanks.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      What aspects of your work do you like the most? Do any of those carry over in other fields? You said non-coding database – so data entry? There are definitely some accounting roles that do large volume datasets.

      1. DataGirl*

        I like the development and analysis best. I used to enjoy using SQL to write queries and create functions but I’m rusty at that. Right now I mostly create reports, do quality checks, and provide a ton of support/troubleshooting and education to my colleagues on the software we use to manage our data. I do enjoy developing education programs but am not sure how I could pivot that into a full time gig (and get paid well enough for it).

    3. DataManager*

      Out of curiosity, what are the ballpark salaries you are seeing for data science and data analytics that would be a big pay cut?

  20. Feeling Stuck*

    I was laid off from my job as a corporate attorney and took a position with a government contractor. They explicitly stated that they wanted an attorney to fill the position, but it was performed by a paralegal in the distant past who later became an attorney and is still repeatedly referred to as “the paralegal position.” It’s very heavy on administrative busy work and light on substantive legal work. I feel that I was put into a bit of a bait-and-switch scenario, as the job description the contractor used is not at all what the client is asking me to do on a daily basis, but I also feel stuck. I’m recovering from burnout from my old job, I need the health insurance, and being able to work from home five days a week and working a maximum of 9 hours per day is amazing.

    My plan has been to stick it out for two years, which I’ve noted as the “magic number” for employers to not consider job-hopping a red flag. But I’m also concerned about appearing as though I’ve gotten rusty, as I won’t have substantive work product to show during this time period. Should I try to exit earlier? Regardless of how long I stay, how do I describe this time period in my work history in a way that still makes me seem like an appealing candidate? I will be applying mainly for lower-level government attorney positions when I get back out there into the job market.

    1. ecnaseener*

      There’s no magic to 2 years! Search the archives for Allison’s writings on this, but tldr it’s really fine to have 1 short stint, just not a pattern.

      1. Feeling Stuck*

        My main concern with the two year mark is leaving my existing employer with a sour taste in their mouth. I really don’t want to be in the position where one government agency is going to say “Oh yes, this person insisted they wanted the position and then left us out to dry after a year,” especially since I know a lot of these jobs check references and the legal community is relatively small.

          1. Feeling Stuck*

            I’m familiar with the site, but I think it would be career suicide. I’ve already met the whole legal department and I don’t think that jumping ship after a couple of months in one position in the hopes of doing something different and better would be looked upon very favorably. At the very least I would piss off the practice group I currently work with, and I don’t think they’d give me a glowing recommendation with the others.

        1. Another person again*

          You can explain the job description did not match the day to day work, and you are looking for work better aligned with your skill set, if you are asked about it.

          I would rely more heavily on references from previous jobs you stayed in longer instead of this short stay job. Those will have more weight with any potential employers.

        2. Mockingjay*

          I don’t think that will happen. Your references will be the current contracting company and your previous company, not the government. Government agencies don’t track individual contractor employees.

          1. Feeling Stuck*

            My contracting company barely has any idea of what I do on a daily basis, and they’re going to get feedback from the client when they go to ask for it, which would be, “What the hell, we hired this person with the intent of keeping someone long-term and they bailed on us.” What I know for a fact is that my supervisor speaks with the client on a regular basis to make sure that I’m performing well and all their needs are met, and that the feedback they get from the government is going to influence whatever recommendation they give me.

            1. Mockingjay*

              I’ve been a contractor for 30+ years. The government isn’t going to be surprised that you leave. Likely they want stability in the form of a permanent government employee and didn’t have funds or a slot, so they stuffed the position in the contract. (I’ve seen this many times, including my own current contract.)

              An important point: government contracts are for nonpersonal services. By law they can only provide very limited feedback on your performance to your company, specifically within the scope of the contract order tasks and your labor category. There is a distinct, legal separation. If they have problems with your performance, those must be documented and submitted to your company program manager or contracts department and you have the right to refute their findings. Also, consider that contracting companies themselves frequently change under the government. Your company could lose the next bid. You might be offered a position with the new winner, but you don’t have to take it.

              TL; DR: You’re in a position that wasn’t what you thought it would be. Go find something that suits you better! The government can’t prevent you or hinder you.

            2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

              I believe you’re re really overthinking this.
              If the job was not as described and you want to be doing legal work rather than administrative paralegal work, that’s a huge switcharoo! Literally no one in their right mind would hold that against you if you decided to seek another job sooner than 2 years!

              And if the company is mad, so what? It’s also their fault for misrepresenting the position that sounds like it doesn’t actually require an attorney.

    2. DataGirl*

      I’m in pretty much this exact position except I was hired for a job with an IT title and description, but 95% of the work is not IT. I’ve stayed 4 years now and am really regretting it because there’s no way I could go back to what I was previously doing at this point- I no longer have the skills. If you want to get back to legal work, I’d recommend looking for something sooner rather than later. One short term job on a resume won’t be a red flag, only if you have several short jobs in a row.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You’re keeping your license active, yes? And you say you’re recovering from burnout. I’d say something about taking a JD-advantage [1] position after a layoff as an opportunity to explore my options and also take advantage of some work-life balance after n years as a corporate attorney. Then I’d add that I kept my license active and now I’m ready to get back to a real legal practice. You could also mention how the pandemic gave yourself, like many people, some time to re-evaluate their careers, and you know what, in the end it made you want to get back to being a lawyer.

      [1] You and I both know that “JD-advantage” is nonsense but just let yourself and the interviewer engage in the mutual fiction that it’s meaningful.

      1. Feeling Stuck*

        I think one of the things that bugs me about this position is that they explicitly *required* someone with a J.D. and an active bar membership, along with some practice experience.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Well, a bait-and-switch feeling can be irritating. You can bring that up in an interview, but I wouldn’t, myself, spend interview time complaining about the job I’m leaving. Who wants to hire a whiner. I like to think I’d describe it as some time spent in a non-practicing role that led me to understand that I prefer using my license as the state licensure authority intended.

          1. Feeling Stuck*

            I’ll probably say something like that and then also state (if anyone asks) that when I got into the role, I realized that the needs of the position were more administrative than substantive, but that regardless I had the chance to do [insert me grasping at straws for substantive work] and learned quite a bit.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Along those lines, a colleague of mine changed jurisdictions and couldn’t decide for a little while whether or not they would try to get licensed in their new jurisdiction. They did a certification course for a law-adjacent area and got a few gigs in that area, then said “eff this” and got their license in the end. Happily employed as a lawyer in the new jurisdiction now, after a couple of years treading water. Their story to interviewers was “took some time away, but turns out there’s a reason why I was a lawyer in the old jurisdiction, I like being a lawyer and now I’m back.”

              You got this. People move around and stuff happens.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Knowing absolutely nothing about how legal specialties work, but could you do some pro-bono work on the side to keep your skills up?

      Or am I being as dense as some of my friends are about me. Thinking that all chemists are interchangeable. GRIN.

      Have you considered regulatory work, since as in health and safety documentation? One of my distant co-workers is in regulatory and she thinks just like a lawyer.

    5. Can Can Cannot*

      It’s a contract job. Contract jobs can often be short term, so leaving your current contract job earlier than two years is not going to look bad. Just make sure that you are explicit on your resume that it is a contract job, and mention that you took the job expecting it to be short term.

    6. 1qtkat*

      I wouldn’t stick it out if you’re not happy. It’s better to quit and explain how the job duties were different from what you expected to a potential employer.

      I too am an attorney who had to reset myself in another jurisdiction due to my spouse’s work. I spent the first 3 years doing doc review, passing my second bar and networking in my new area and interviewing. I just recently quit my state regulatory job after 2 years which does not require a JD, but the skills certainly helped me adapt quickly and lead me to my new federal attorney position in the same regulated industry. What I appreciated from my state job is that it helped me refresh the analytical thinking, research and writing skills that I “lost” from my doc review days in a low-key setting and the hours were reasonable despite the low pay and career advancement being non-existent.

      Think about what your end goal is and take positions that will get you to that goal. Use other jobs as stepping stones to get to that goal, whether it’s to build up skills or gain further knowledge in a specific area. I took the state job because I saw it as a good way to refresh those rusty lawyering skills, work in a regulatory environment (which is why I went to law school), it was in an area of law that interested me, and I thought it would be a good way to try and get a federal job which was my initial plan after law school until my spouse’s career slightly derailed that plan.

  21. KofSharp*

    This one’s still happening, is there a good way to establish a boundary of “Message Me Before You Call?”
    I work with a ton of people in different offices and unfortunately there’s also a ton of impromptu meetings that don’t make it so I can change my availability immediately. 90% of the folks I work with are all of the “ping you first to check availability” but there’s these two dudes who just call, ask their question I could answer in a 5 second teams message, then try to chat for AGES, and then get absolutely furious when I decline the call and send a message saying “I’m in a meeting with Y, I cannot talk right now. Would X time work?”
    I’m not dodging them on purpose they just have absurdly bad timing.

      1. KofSharp*

        I’ll try updating my voicemail outgoing message too, right now it just confirms they’ve dialled the right number. One of them called over 30 times in under 10 minutes because “It was an EMERGENCY.” (It was not.)

    1. Everything Bagel*

      They get mad if you are in a meeting and not immediately available to talk to them? That sounds like their problem. I would be actively avoiding their calls even if I’m not in meeting, at least waiting just a little while to call back. They need to reset their expectations.

    2. Podkayne*

      If I take “absolutely furious” on it’s face, then that kind of reaction/behavior calls for an intervention with each, in which you make it super clear that this is unacceptable. I agree with others; don’t pick up when you’re unavailable. Otherwise, you are rewarding their bad behavior, ensuring it’s continuance.

      1. KofSharp*

        My managers are aware, I was actually in a meeting, sharing my screen with one of them, when I got the 30 calls in 10 minutes about what part to use in a specific situation. He was shocked that I had to actually pull up the teams messenger to say I was busy and I’d call him back soon.
        Unfortunately they do this to EVERYONE and when they get rewarded with an immediate answer from anyone, they just get more aggressive with their calls.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Send a polite email and cc the manager saying one last time that if you don’t answer the phone you are likely in a meeting and would appreciate if they message or email instead of hitting redial. Make it the managers problem after that.

          1. JustaTech*

            Seconding this. It’s good that your managers know, KofSharp, but it would be better if the ConstantCalling Duo’s managers also knew, and knew that it was interfering with other people’s work.

    3. Other Alice*

      If it’s an option, mute your phone and notifications when you’re in meetings. They’re being ridiculous and shouldn’t be rewarded with immediate answers. Don’t answer the phone, don’t answer their messages now. Just finish what you’re doing and then you can reply “I was in a meeting and missed your call, would [other time] work?”
      If they get angry over this very normal office interaction, it’s their problem and not something you should fix.

    4. RagingADHD*

      What you are doing is exactly what setting a boundary consists of: making a decision about your own priorities, and acting accordingly.

      Your boundaries don’t stop them from having feelings. The only missing piece is for you to accept that their emotional overreaction is not your problem.

      Unless, of course, these guys are senior to you and keeping them happy is part of your job. Otherwise, you just let them be mad. And if their fury translates to unprofessional or inappropriate behavior, document, report, and escalate to an authority figure.

    5. Banana*

      I had a senior coworker like this a few years back. He would blow up my phone for simple questions and schedule meetings with no notice or over my lunch hour or past 5 pm. I developed a personal policy of NEVER taking his calls, and only treating his issues as emergencies if they truly were (in the scope of that job, only if his problem meant we were going to miss more than 5 customer ship dates.) I would not accept same day meetings or meetings outside normal working hours, or return emails or phone calls in less than two hours, if it wasn’t an emergency. I preferred texts or IMs, so those I answered more quickly.

      He never changed, but I did get him trained to mostly contact me via text and not expect me to drop everything every time he got excited about something.

      You said “I’m not dodging them on purpose they just have absurdly bad timing.” Maybe you should dodge them on purpose if their sense of priority is so out of whack. Train them out of this approach. Talk to your boss about it first if you’re worried about them complaining.

  22. Two Dog Night*

    Hoping this counts as work because it’s about work shoes: Does anyone have recommendations for a really comfortable (and preferably at least a little stylish) pair of black pumps, 1.5″-2″ heels? I’m having no luck. My current pair is by Clark’s–they’re comfortable to stand in, but they rub on my toes something awful.

    1. Elle Woods*

      I have a pair of Aerosoles pumps that I really like. They have a 2″ block heel and a rubber sole. They are the most comfortable pumps I’ve ever owned.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I had decent luck with MeToo shoes. I got a cute pair of black pumps from them years ago. The ball of my foot is wide-ish (sometimes too wide for normal width but not wide enough for wide width), and this company generally fits the bill. Weirdly, I had to go down a half size though.

      1. Ama*

        Yes — Cole Haan also tends to have great seasonal clearance sales too, so if you can time it right you can get some great shoes for a fraction of the regular price.

    3. Joielle*

      I have a pair of LifeStride Parigi pumps from Amazon which I find really comfortable. I prefer a pointed toe for aesthetics but usually wear a rounded toe for work since there’s a lot more toe space.

    4. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      Seconding the Cole Haan heels! I also like the Rockport Total Motion line, Vionic heels, and The Walking Co.’s ABEO line for some very basic and classic styles.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      Gabor have really comfortable and stylish shoes suitable for the workplace. Whether they currently have anything that exactly matches your description I’m not sure, but they are definitely worth looking up.

    6. NeutralJanet*

      I really like the Journee Collection Windy Mary Jane pumps. They’re a little taller than 2″, I think they’re something like 3″, but they’re SUPER comfortable. I basically haven’t worn heels during the pandemic at all, because I’ve been working from home, but I was able to walk a mile and a half in these shoes earlier this month without any discomfort at all. (Bonus, they make my wide, giant feet look less like shovels.)

  23. Renee Remains the Same*

    I’m trying to move closer to family and looking at jobs a few hours away from where I live now. I was hoping to find something remote that would allow more flexibility for the move, but I’m not sure that will happen. Anyone have any tips about how best to manage such a move. The thought of starting a new job is frightening enough, adding the stress of a deadline to sell my place and cart all my worldly belongings and old pet makes my brain hurt.

    1. WellRed*

      I have no practical advice on the moving details but will say this: focus on one piece at a time. In this case, looking for the job. The rest of its moot until that happens. Although I suppose you could have a realtor appraise your current house and give you a feel for the market. It might give you piece of mind.

      1. squishybird*

        I think WellRed has the right idea, but I’d adjust it to: Cut it into manageable chunks. So absolutely start with the job hunt, nothing can happen until you have the job, but while that’s ongoing give yourself some smaller, easier tasks around the home. Is there anything you think you’ll need to fix/paint/change before your move?

        I’d also recommend making a list of everything that you think will need to happen — as specific or broad as you need. So:
        Get a job
        Put house on market
        -Make sure grass is green
        -Fix leaky faucet
        -etc.
        Sell house
        Buy/rent new house
        Move
        -How will you move the pet?
        -How many trips will you need to take?

        I wish you all the luck and hope it goes easily!

  24. PX*

    Woo, quit my job this week! I dont quite have something lined up yet (am negotiating an offer and waiting to hear back after another final interview) but honestly I was so done with this place (and it was affecting my mental health) that I needed to leave regardless. Feels like such a relief.

    Now the only question is how honest to be in my exit interview. I’ve already been given the form in advance of the meeting with HR and looking at the questions, I have a lot of things I could say. Its just whether or not I want to bother given that the issue is bad management (including nepotism – CTO and CEO are friends and both kinda bad at their jobs?)

    1. Hunnybee*

      SAMEZIES! I actually have been blatantly honest with HR about my reason for quitting (abusive manager — I was frequently having anxiety attacks). Like you, I’m so done. So, so, so so done.

      If you think that HR would be neutral, it might be worth it to mention bad management — but if HR is friends with them, maybe not? Do you know the relationship there?

    2. CatCat*

      I would not bother. There’s nothing for you to gain, but could potentially lose reputationally that could impact you in ways you can’t currently predict (not fair, but shooting the messenger is enough of a thing that I wouldn’t volunteer to be a messenger).

    3. Pam Adams*

      I recommend not not pushing the honesty. They know what the problems are- what will change about you telling them.

    4. anonymous73*

      There’s nothing wrong with being honest, as long as you’re stating facts that you know and witnessed first hand. But understand that no matter what you say, it most likely won’t change any of the management problems.

    5. DrRat*

      If you’re staying in the same field or will need references, it may be best not to burn bridges.

      If you already had a job offer in a completely different field, maybe.

      But honestly – what will you achieve? If upper management sucks, it’s not like they are going to look at your feedback and then the CEO and CTO will just go, “Oh, we’re terrible? In that case, we quit!”

      I would consider just being vague so this doesn’t come back to bite you in the posterior. A future job may want to talk to references from, say, your last 3 jobs, and incompetent people are often quite vindictive.

  25. Anonymous Educator*

    If one of your professional contacts you respect tries to recruit you for a position that would probably pay a lot more money and involve learning lots of cool stuff but is at a company that you think it ethically dubious (even moreso than other companies), is it worth just skirting that issue altogether if you don’t actually want to apply for the job? I’m assuming “Your company is terrible” can potentially sound like “You’re terrible for working there.” I don’t actually judge people for working at terrible companies (people have to eat, and you don’t understand everything about their circumstances), but I also think it’s legit to not want to work at a company you think is doing bad things.

    1. Miel*

      I would skirt the issue – “thanks, not quite the right fit for me right now!” – but I’m a deeply conflict averse person, lol.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Not a good fit for me right now, but thanks!”

      And, not for nothing, while on one hand there’s nothing wrong about getting a paycheck, I’ve worked with people who have tried to transition out of “controversial” employment (e.g., tobacco products, legal sex industry, etc) and have had considerable difficulties getting that next job. If taking the job isn’t super compelling to you now, I might not want to risk it.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Dodge the issue the first time. If they reach out to you repeatedly (with different positions) you can say something along the lines of “thanks for thinking of me, but i’m not interested in working at LuthorCorp. If you hear about anything at Wayne Tech I’d love to know!”

    4. Purple Cat*

      I don’t think I would go into the “why” if you can get around it. “Just not a good fit at this time” would work well. Otherwise, can you speak to the specific industry not being desirable as opposed to the company specifically. I’ve told people who’ve worked in Pharma that I’m not interested in that Industry. Similar to Defense Contractors, personally I’m morally opposed, but I have no issues with others who chose to work there. I guess I’m saying you don’t really have to go into the “ethically dubious” and just say “not a fit for me”.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Thanks for the feedback. I dodged it, and this contact was respectful of my choice. Not pushy at all. Just wanted to get a sense of what you all thought about the situation.

  26. Definitely Maybe*

    Have been struggling quite a bit mentally for a few months and my therapist recommended FMLA for a few weeks. Have others done this? Did it help?

    1. perchance*

      I used FMLA to work half time for a month and a half over the holidays and while it wasn’t a magic bullet, it gave me a little breathing room. However, a large factor in my mental health struggle was my struggle with my physical health, and it was just nice to be able to take a nap in the afternoon so I had some steam left for doing anything after work. (And when I say anything, I mean stuff like “eat dinner” and “sit outside”) I got no pushback at all from my work, but I had a few years of good work that my reputation could rely on and clear lines of communication with my boss. I think it was really helpful for me, and if you can afford it (both financially and socially) you should definitely give it a try.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I have taken FMLA time off for a variety of reasons and it has always helped whether it was for physical or mental reasons. However, I live in a state that offers STD and my company tops that up to ensure I receive 100% of my paycheck while I’m out. It’s pleasant. I don’t have to think about work or worry about money, so I can just rest and recuperate.

      Oh, and if you do take FMLA time off, don’t hesitate to live your life and do fun things if you want. Lots of people feel like they need to stay home and not do anything fun while out on FMLA, which definitely defeats the purpose if you are burned out or need a mental break!

    3. Double A*

      Yes, but I hit a point where I had to take emergency leave. If you can do it before it gets to that point, I’d recommend it. My doctor and therapist just wrote me a note and I was off.

    4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      My Mom did FMLA a while back. It seemed to help. I think it would have worked better if she could have truly disconnected. it was a toxic place and she was required to call in every day to say that she wouldn’t be at work, even with the medical documentation and such stating she needed at least a month off. So she still had to get up and spend 15 minutes calling off. Then they did some other crappy things to her when she came back and ended up firing her.

      But if you have a good workplace, and you can financially take the hit ( FMLA doesn’t mean you are going to be paid it just means that they can’t take your job) then I would say go for it.

    5. Still working*

      I took about 3.4 months off a few years ago. I used that time to get intense treatment for my depression. It saved my job.

    6. JimmyJab*

      I wound up doing this AFTER I was hospitalized, so, I say do it before it gets to that point! I have other coworkers who have done it during the pandemic with mixed results, but it helped me immensely.

      1. Whynot*

        My best friend recently lost his husband after a long illness, where he was the sole caregiver through the pandemic. He’s using FMLA most Mondays and Fridays, and as-needed on other days if something comes up, and he has enough leave built up that he’ll be able to do this for quite a while. He has an amazing doc who talked him through what she could help with and how FMLA could work for him. So, reach out to resources like that, and remember that you don’t have to take it all in one chunk if that doesn’t suit your situation. Wishing you all the best.

  27. Justin*

    Today is my last day at my job. I wrote a goodbye email to my colleagues and sent it etc. And, though I’ve had some struggles here, it all ended well for me.

    But…. I am nervous about my exit interview with my boss at 2. We’ve disagreed about a lot. Any advice on how to approach it? I’m going to bite my tongue on the real issues here because I don’t care anymore.

    1. Rational Lemming*

      I would try to be as even-keeled as possible. You’ve already made the decision – today is your last day (congrats!). Don’t get worked up about what isn’t your problem any more. You can say your piece and move on. If they still insist that “2+2 = 5”, well that’s just support for why you decided to leave.

    2. Miel*

      You’re under no obligation to give candid feedback in your exit interview. Sounds like an offer fell into your lap that you couldn’t pass up.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Do exactly that. Preserve your reference. “I’ve enjoyed my time at Company. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work on X Project; it was a challenge that I enjoyed meeting and hoped I provided a positive contribution for. ” Bland, positive. If directly asked what you would change: “nothing really. I enjoyed my time here and have great coworkers; it’s a great setup. Wish you all the best!”

      You can always redirect to wrap stuff: “while I’m here, is there anything else to wrap up? I turned over all my stuff to Fred and Sue; I think I answered all their questions.”

      Congratulations and good luck on the new position!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say exactly this. No reason to air any grievances or try to fix anything. Be as neutral to bland as possible. You’re leaving!! Woot!

        1. Justin*

          Yeah I haven’t loved this team but I did learn a lot and wouldn’t have gotten the next job otherwise, so I’ll stick with the “I’ve learned a lot” track.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      This may be an unpopular opinion, but I recommend against airing grievances or giving legitimate feedback during an exit interview. If they didn’t care to fix things or be receptive feedback when you were there, why would they suddenly take your feedback seriously now that you’re leaving?

    5. rage criers unite*

      Go in with a positive attitude and an honest open nature.
      If there are serious issues, and you can voice them without becoming agitated, you should do so.
      Just remember – you’re done! yay!!

    6. Justin*

      Update: she just wanted to check on some things I needed to fill out and tell me that they want to take me and another employee (who is also leaving today) out for an actual goodbye lunch over the summer since a lot of people aren’t here today for Good Friday and thus aren’t actually seeing us.

      So that was nothing to worry about!

  28. Lizabeth*

    I need some feedback from y’all. Came across a job posting with a local Girl Scout council that is right up my alley skill-wise and an opportunity to give back to GSA (had great experiences growing up in Girl Scouts) I started the online process to submit my resume and stopped dead when I came to “provide references” even before a phone screening. I.really.hate.this.practice!!!! Seriously hate it… So paused the application and have been thinking about it for the week. Torn between putting placeholders for references that will get the application submitted (and possibly dinged for) or providing the references as they request.

    I admit I’m at BEC stage on this and the job is one, that while it hits a lot of my checklist, I could live without applying BUT…want to make a point. One of my questions is – if I put in reference placeholders would they even notice???

    1. Justin*

      I mean, if it’s literally fake numbers, yes, they’ll notice 999-99-9999. But as annoying as that is, they don’t usually actually contact anyone unless you’re close to the end.

      1. Lizabeth*

        That I know, it’s the principle of the practice asking for references before you “even” have contact with an organization. Was thinking to put my phone number in, along with Reference #1, #2 etc in the name and mention that I would provide references if and when later in the process.

      2. Wildcat*

        I’ve done this before and they don’t contact refs until the very end if you’re their top candidate. It’s not that big of a deal. It would be one if you entered placeholders and your application wouldn’t be considered.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      Do you have to put numbers at all? Or can you fill out all the reference spaces with “references available upon request”?

    3. Miel*

      This is an obnoxious practice! Sometimes perfectly functional workplaces have obnoxious hiring systems.

      If it were me, I would still apply, and maybe fill it out with “references available upon request.”

      Good luck!

    4. VV*

      This is my biggest pet peeve. Unless it’s a dream organizations I will straight up discard my plans to apply, lol. It feels so disrespectful to ask me to share contact information (often their personal phone numbers!) for people in my network before I even know if they’re interested. I haven’t thought to put placeholders in before but I have been tempted to add a note along the lines of “Please do not contact them without letting me know first”… but I haven’t yet.

    5. RagingADHD*

      With an org like this, I would give a pass. There are a lot of disqualifiers due to the mission that have nothing to do with a candidate’s job skills.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I mean, I wouldn’t consider the request unusual on this type of org. References and probably a backgound check will be needed, due to the nature of their mission and work.

        There are plenty of people with job skills who wouldn’t have the needed references, so it makes sense to filter for that up front instead of at the end.

        If you aren’t willing to give references, just don’t bother applying at all. I would not recommend faking references, because they will matter.

      2. BritChickaaa*

        Why on earth not?

        Checking references is an absolutely essential part of safeguarding for any role involving working with children.

        I used to (many years ago) work in a similar organisation.

        If someone put down fake references to try to gain access to children that would be a massive red flag.

        1. BritChickaaa*

          Having said that, I work in the entertainment industry and my main reference is someone who’s famous (I don’t use him as a reference because he’s famous but because he’s the longest term “boss” I’ve ever had and knows my work better than anyone).

          I put his name down, but under contact details I either write “please contact me should I progress to the reference check stage” or I put his agent’s office address. It’s never been a problem. Everyone gets it because everyone understands that famous people don’t want their phone numbers floating around. But that’s industry-specific. In most industries the assumption is that contact details are office details, not personal details. If you’re giving a reference of someone who doesn’t have an office address/office phone number, it’s fine to write “please contact me for number” as long as you put their real name down, people will understand.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      I’m very surprised when I encounter online applications that DON’T ask for references up front. This is a normal expectation, and making a point by putting in placeholders would mean you won’t be considered for the position at my institution.

    7. OBMD*

      I don’t know about Gril Scouts, but to even be a parent volunteer for Boy Scouts, you have to give 3 references and agree to a background check. It may be just the organization.

    8. ero*

      I mean, the GSA is an organization that works with children and donations. I would be concerned if they didn’t collect references.

      As for including it in the application stage? Mildly annoying maybe but definitely not a hill to die on. Most places that collect them at that stage don’t check them then. They’ll check them later in the process when it makes sense, but collect the references at the same time they collect all the other information.

    9. Nancy*

      They won’t contact them until the consideration stage. When they get to the point that they do need them, yes they will notice since they won’t have anyone to contact.

    10. Kiwiapple*

      I think you’re being far too OTT about this. It is not uncommon for part of the application process to ask for reference. It does NOT mean they will contact them until closer to an offer making stage.

    11. BritChickaaa*

      Putting down references to work with children (even if the council role doesn’t directly involve work with children it’s still an org for children and will likely involve some contact) is essential and necessary. Why on earth do you have a problem with it?

      If you’re that touchy about completely normal hiring practices then clearly this is not for you. Faking part of an application form that will certainly be red flagged and thrown out just to “make a point” is just so weirdly hostile and adversarial.

  29. honeygrim*

    I just started a new job a few months ago. It’s an amazing opportunity and my family has been really excited for me. So far I like it, though there’s a lot to learn, it’s a big “thinking and planning” kind of role, and I often feel like I’m not getting up to speed fast enough (though my colleagues say I’m doing fine). Also, my previous job led to massive burnout, and coupled with the anxiety and depression I already struggle with (and the general suckiness of the past few years), it’s led me to struggle with getting myself going in this new role. I live far away from my family and friends, and because I haven’t accrued a lot of time off at my new job I hadn’t been able to see any of them for a while. And since I just moved to the area, I haven’t yet gotten a therapist or really made any new friends, so I’m kind of alone right now, and that’s tough. But things have been improving slowly.

    And then, a couple of weeks ago, one of my parents passed away. They’d been sick for a while but it was still unexpected, as the last time I’d talked to them they sounded like they were feeling really good. Of course I’m absolutely heartbroken, not only for myself but my remaining parent and my siblings. I’m crushed that I wasn’t able to spend more time with them. I miss them so much.

    I was able to go home for the funeral, but now I’m in the red on sick and vacation leave and won’t be able to take any time off for at least a month. And so I’m struggling. I’m having an even harder time being motivated at work, because I’m also trying not to burst into tears randomly in the office. I’m scared that I’m going to really mess up and end up losing my new job. I’m waiting for our EAP to get back to me on finding a therapist, but I can’t figure out how to just keep going right now.

    I’ve read some of other posts on here about dealing with depression in the workplace and dealing with bereaved colleagues, but I wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions for me.

    1. rage criers unite*

      First, I’m so sorry for your loss. I cant even imagine how you must feel.

      If you haven’t already you need to speak with your boss about what happened and ask about bereavement leave. Many workplaces will offer a day or two of leave (paid or unpaid) that will not count against PTO.

      And please do look into getting help!! Ask your primary care for a referral and speak to someone soon.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so terribly sorry for your loss!
      Google ‘grief support groups’ in your area (and look in your local paper) and you may even find one specific to having lost a parent. The local library may know of one as well. MeetUps may have something as well. If anything, maybe look at Meetups for taking a walk in nature. That would get you outside and with other people for a little bit so you won’t feel so isolated and alone. Also check your EAP for grief groups as well.
      Please be gentle with yourself and try to build time into your day to do what you need to do (cry in the bathroom, take a quick walk outside, whatever you need).
      Hang in there! I know this seems insurmountable, but you will get through this, I promise.
      Internet hugs if you want them.

    3. Purple Cat*

      1) Check with your boss on bereavement leave.
      2) Check about how far in the red you can go.
      3) If possible, just take the time unpaid so you don’t have to worry about “paying it back” later and constantly being in a vacation hole.
      Attempting to white-knuckle it, probably isn’t going to end well for you, so you should try to get ahead of it.
      I’m so sorry for your loss. Even when expected, the loss of a parent hits hard :(

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I experienced something similar last year and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

      1. Talk to your boss. Ask about bereavement leave, and if you feel comfortable give them some context on how badly you’re struggling. Not gory details, but like “this was super unexpected and I’m not handling it well”. If they’re a halfway decent human they’ll understand you can’t produce at a top notch level right now.

      2. Find a therapist/talk to a doctor about treatment options (medication, special breathing exercises, etc). Take care of you; this is hard enough without chronic depression too.

      3. Take some time and figure out what you need from work. Do you need an extended leave/unpaid time off to get yourself together and work through the grief? Would working remotely or hybrid be an option? (This is what I did. Doing invoices from the comfort of my own home where no one can see me cry in my pajamas). Could you drop hours down to a certain amount and still keep benefits/be ok financially for a bit?

      4. Take care of you. Give yourself permission to make things easy and use metaphorical crutches. I ordered a meal delivery service for a few weeks because I literally couldn’t find it in myself to go grocery shopping or do meal prep. If you can’t fathom standing up for a shower, sit down in it. Take the everyday burdens off if you can.

      I am so sorry you’re going through this. *internet hugs*

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      I am sorry for your loss. I agree with the others, that you can expect your boss to sympathize and understand. Contacting EAP was a good idea. Contacting your own primary care physician is also a good idea. She can assess whether medication would be helpful, and she can refer you to an appropriate counselor.

      This isn’t going to be easy, and it will take time to get to a better place. For what it’s worth, there are people who have never met you, who have had similar experiences and who care about you. That won’t make the pain go away, but I hope it offers at least some comfort and reassurance.

  30. quill*

    How do you explain to your boss that the scale of accuracy required of you is unsustainable?
    I’m supposed to have 80% of items I submit in agile be perfect. But because each submission has well over a hundred possible places for failure, I’m really being asked to have less than 2% errors. My boss continues to see 50% of submissions containing a single error as a failure.

    Also I have to do these submissions in batches, so if I mess up the metadata on one, they are probably all wrong, with the single metadata error repeated throughout.

    I understand that it takes time to review things but I don’t think an under 2% error rate when I’m the one writing the work instructions for this process because we never had one before is sustainable.

    If I actually do the math on this last batch I just bet I’m getting a 95% or higher if we actually look at the contents, and I’m catching problems earlier than ever before. My boss just refuses to see this as an actual improvement.

    1. quill*

      quick math: if I do ten submissions and five have an error that takes them down to 95% correct while the others are perfect, a normal system would say I got 97ish percent of everything correct, not fifty… right?

      1. Raboot*

        Boss is counting faulty products, which isn’t a math error, it’s a different judgement. It’s not really a math question, it’s about how much impact a single error has on the final output. You think not much, your boss thinks a lot, we in the comments don’t know the products so hard to say. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to count based on product, depends how usable/fixable they are.

        If they expect 80% perfect products, focus on whether or not that’s realistic, don’t try to convince them that they should count individual errors equally regardless of how many products are affected. Instead work together to figure out reasonable standards based on product needs.

    2. Sleepy cat*

      What do you mean by ‘in agile’? Because this kind of thing is the antithesis of agile working.

      1. quill*

        I create a document outlining a study. It is or is not perfect in regards to typos, formatting, etc.
        I create a change order in agile for it, which is or is not perfect in regards to assigning reviewer groups, who has the rights to download it, where the final document will be stored after approval, the information on the cover page about what other paperwork is related to this one.

        So if, for example, I upload a silkworm weight experiment but forget to uncheck the (default!) caterpillar metrics team access permissions for the document in it’s surrounding data in agile, the whole change order + study is considered a failure on my part even if I, the usual first reviewer, catch the fix before anyone else wastes time on it.

        Meanwhile if I needed to submit twenty studies on different caterpillar species’ weights but for SOME REASON they weren’t for the caterpillar metrics team, I’m dinged more harshly than if I’d submitted ten perfect caterpillar species weight studies and keysmashed my way through the other ten. I’m essentially getting a failing grade because the metric is “percent of studies that are perfect prior to review” and not “twenty papers that are 95% correct is overall a 95.”

        And yeah, the products that I work with are as confusing as if we have a butterfly and moth team and I, on the moth team, SOMETIMES have to make documents shared with the butterfly team via the wider caterpillar group, but randomly oh, I guess that particular species doesn’t count as a caterpillar for some never explained reason.

        1. Sleepy cat*

          Sorry but I am still not clear on what you mean by ‘in agile’? Is this a software program or do you mean agile working?

          1. quill*

            It’s our document control… database? Program? It’s definitely not a philosophy / system

            1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

              Yeah there is the Agile project management system/methodology which this doesn’t sound what’s happening because from what I know of Agile this is very un-like Agile. Maybe your boss needs to take a course in Agile project management because it sounds like he is putting too much pressure for everything to be completely perfect.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      This is the kind of thing checklists and flowcharts are made for. Can you create detailed checklists for each type of document you work on? You could even send them to your boss/team for review and input to get a really perfect, comprehensive doc. Then force yourself to double check your work against the checklist every time you submit.

    4. Nesprin*

      Process, process & process.

      If you need 99% accuracy, and human nature gets you to 80%, can you develop a pipeline with multiple proof readers? Is there a way to automate/assign headers in a human proof manner?

    5. JustaTech*

      Your boss is completely unreasonable.
      If these were final submissions to, say, your regulatory body, then yeah, I could see needing that kind of correctness. But it sounds like these are the starting point for data analysis, which should be double-checked by someone else, not because you’re making mistakes or bad but because that is good practice.

      Also, an error that is corrected before it impacts anyone else shouldn’t be a “failure”, it should be a “corrected error”.

      So, a question: are you the only person who does this specific work/has this metric applied to them? Or do you have peers who do similar work with similar metrics? If so, could you talk to them about how they address the way these metrics are applied?
      Because it feels like both the way the metric is calculated is weird and should be clarified, but also that if you want a precision of 80% (let alone 95%) then you need to be allowed to spend a *lot* more time on each entry. (And you boss needs to stop taking simple mistakes as a personal affront.)

    6. Princess xenia*

      Sounds like part of the problem is a very touchy computer program (?) that balks at every tiny error. If that’s the case can you get a regular reviewer to do a nitpicky detail review before it goes into the system? Alternatively, can you set yourself up with a system where you do something and then come back to it the next day with a fresh set of eyes?

  31. Rapunzel*

    Has anyone here worked in the sciences at a national lab / similar lab? I am trying to understand whether the work-life balance will be better than in academia. Any experience from people with PhDs who have done both? What sorts of employers would you recommend to be able to do research but have some semblance of work-life balance?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Hi! Are you in the US? I’ve done research in academic labs and NIH, and now I do data stuff for other gov orgs. In my experience NIH was almost exactly like academia as far as work/life balance and pressure to publish goes, but we had better toys and more resources than most academic labs. I’ve heard (but not experienced first hand) that things are similar at other national labs. The data work I do now is in support of other researchers and it’s strictly 40 hrs/week, so the work/life balance is fantastic but the trade off is low recognition and visibility in most research communities.

      1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

        Yes this has been my experience as well! More resources, more morale events, and better resources, but people still work 40-60 hrs a week or more sometimes.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        One of my best friends works in computer imaging in a government research lab, and this is very much his impression as he’s described it to me. Very busy, and a lot of the same feel as academia (including, sadly, the killer internal politics) but they have much better resources to use, and are better paid.

    2. GSFC Escapee*

      Context: Spouse has PhD, I have Master’s (non research). At the engineering side of a NASA center, work-life balance is pretty bad because building & launching spacecraft is almost always a crunch time. However, the sciences & research side is known for good work-life balance.

      In general, if you’re a contractor, work-life balance is enforced because they don’t want you to have overtime.

      For science research in a non-academia setting, I’d look at FFRDCs. In my industry that’s like Aerospace Corporation, MITRE. I’ll put a link in the next comment.

        1. Rapunzel*

          This is such a useful link! I’ve tried to Google this sort of thing before, and not found this exact list. Thank you!

      1. AnonForThis*

        Experience in NASA center here (as a PhD postdoc), and now working at a non-US government research centre in a technical position.

        Instrument/spacecraft commissioning is intense and exhausting, and it’s not malicious – you’re doing incredibly complex work with a limited time period, and high stakes if stuff doesn’t work. But for the rest of the time, the staff work-life balance expectations were reasonable. Leaving at 5pm to pick up your kids was considered normal, not a sign of lack of commitment to your career, and they didn’t expect nursing mothers to pump in the bathroom (to use entirely non random example from friends at Caltech). They also paid pretty well, even for postdocs.

        The big caveat is that the project work gets done before your own research, and most jobs were nominally 20% research (ie, one day a week on average), which was often hard to fit in. However, job performance was based mostly on project work, so it wasn’t like tenure track positions where they load you down with non-research work and then evaluate you solely on your paper output.

        My current job is at a non US government research centre, and I’m research adjacent but not research focussed, and my work-life balance is pretty good except during commissioning crunch times.

    3. PostalMixup*

      I can’t really speak to this exact question, and if you’re set on true basic research, feel free to totally disregard this. I have a PhD in molecular biology and spent three years doing a postdoc. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how fulfilling I’ve found industry R&D work. I work for a life sciences company (one of the big ones – if you do chemistry or biology, you definitely buy our products) and, yes, my job is to make products. But there are well-known academic labs working on similar technologies, the work is cutting edge enough that I’m writing patents in a very competitive field, and we publish in academic journals when we have something worth the time and effort and fees. And work-life balance is a thing in the corporate world! The downside is that you don’t have a ton of say in the projects, but unless you’re a PI, that can be true in academia, too.

      Of course, not all industry roles are like this, and not all companies are, either. Pharma and ag may well be different. But if you know anyone who’s made the jump, it might be worth asking for their experiences at their company.

    4. Nesprin*

      Yes! I’ve worked in multiple national labs!
      They’re a different kettle of fish from academia, as mission/funding are very different from academia. In the best of all worlds, you get stable funding and reasonable deadlines, and in the worst, you get neither.
      If you post a burner email, happy to answer questions.

  32. Aspiring BA*

    I did a late piggyback last week and could still use advice on pursuing business analysis/project management. Here’s the story: Did not finish my undergrad as a young person due to health issues that are now under control. Did some common life things (worked retail, fell in love and moved, got a call centre job to pay bills, married, house, kids). I stuck with the call centre because it was secure and I was good at it. I have an aptitude for problem solving and have been promoted into a projects/process position created just for me. I LOVE the work, so started taking a certificate in business analysis. However, I am not particularly well compensated. I’ve determined I would like to go back and complete my undergrad so I can be competitive in a future job search, and am torn between computer science and business/commerce. My employer is paying for the business analyst courses, and I’m quite certain they would pay for me to get a business degree, iffy on the comp sci. I also anticipate any transfer credits would cover more of a business degree.

    1. Rapunzel*

      Computer science and business are so different from each other! Do you enjoy coding and want to spend most of your time doing that? If so, go ahead and do CS- you will be able to make a ton of money, so the ROI is worth it even if the employer doesn’t cover the degree. However, business analyst/project management roles do not need a CS degree, so if that’s truly what you want to do (and you don’t want flexibility to switch to software engineering/etc), you don’t need to do a CS degree. For business analyst roles, finance would be a good degree that would also make you qualified for other work. Since you’re interested in process/analysis/project management, I would also recommend industrial engineering, which is a combination of all of those things. Or there are now degrees in things like data science engineering, which would be similarly aligned with your interests while still getting you more a CS-adjacent skillset.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yep my undergrad is in Finance and I’m a BA. Started my career in accounting (no thanks) but made process improvements in every position I had and landed my current job with no actual tech skills other than Excel.

        OP, if you want to stay a BA I’d get basic SQL experience and then think if you want to be more on the tech side or business side and pick from there.

    2. ferrina*

      Depends on what you want to do! Assuming your skills are equal in both, the job descriptions are very different. Coding can be collaborative but can also be solitary, and project management defaults to collaborative. You could go for a hybrid of the two and aim to be an IT project manager. I’ve seen IT project managers follow both paths- coders who end up liking project management and PMs who end up like coding. In that case, I’d think about your back up plan. If project management and business is your passion, focus on that. You can also take CS classes on the side (but not get a degree in it). That will still help your resume.

    3. Chi chan*

      If you like call centre work you should look at IT helpdesk. You can get certifications and get a job with those.

    4. Aspiring BA*

      Thanks for the input! I am interested in coding, but often because it is a tool that can be used to help with improvements, which is where my strongest interest lies. I don’t think help desk support is for me – I had to do more than enough of that as a team supervisor. It tried my patience to the point I created tech troubleshooting documentation for the company to try and get out of so much of it.

  33. JustaTech*

    TL;DR My VP has a (new?) anti-millennial thing, can I change his mind?

    Long version: I have a quarterly one-on-one meeting with my VP (Vince). He likes to have these meetings to check in on the general state of the department (though very few people at my level still have these meetings with him, only those of us who’ve been around for years).
    My new coworker, Jill, is on a brand-new, very under-resourced team that’s working with a client that won’t make up their mind about anything. Basically, Jill is doing the work of three people and has had 3 managers in 6 months due to constant shifting of where exactly her team sits in the overall company structure. I am tangential to Jill’s group, so I’ve been helping out as much as I can, but she’s overwhelmed and getting burnt out.
    So I go into my meeting with Vince and start by praising Jill and her hard work and say “I know there aren’t any more resources for this group, but Jill could really use some praise from you (Vince) for her hard work.”

    Then we’re interrupted by a call from a very senior person that Vince takes (on speaker) where the Senior Person complains about her ability to contact an outside person because “she’s such a millennial she won’t talk on the phone. I mean, she’s only 26.” To which Vince replies “Maybe you should ask for someone more experienced?” Senior Person says that this would be “very inflammatory” and they move on.

    Vince comes back to talking to me, we talk about other things, and I swing back around to “Jill could really use some praise and recognition of her hard work.”
    Vince: “I can’t do that. If I did that it wouldn’t mean anything. Only her manager can do that. Does Jill work harder than Bob? Or Jason? Nobody praises me. I work 70 hours a week and I’m not asking for praise.”
    Me: “OK, I’ll remind her manager.”

    Am I way off base that the simplest, easiest part of being a manager is saying “good job!”? Or that a manager can’t offer praise to multiple people? I’m not talking about public lauding; I’m talking about a quick email or just stopping by their desk and saying “hey, good work”.
    That, combined with the “no one offers me praise” and the talking smack about someone who would rather email than call fells very much like a “oh, millennials, they all want participation trophies”. Which is beyond frustrating. (I’m an elder millennial, which I think Vince may have forgotten, and I never got a participation trophy, and, hello, children don’t get to demand those, that’s a decision made by adults.)

    So, 1) is it reasonable for senior managers to offer verbal praise? and 2) is there any way to convince Vince to not fall into weird generational stereotypes? (Especially since at least half of his staff are millennials?)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Maybe I’m missing something – it doesn’t sound like Vince actually said anything about Jill being a millennial, or millennials at all really. Just that someone else brought up the term during a phone call?

      It’s reasonable for senior managers to offer verbal praise but that’s not everyone’s style, and while that can be very generational I think you’re reading a lot into this situation that I’m not getting from the facts you laid out.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        That may be true, though I can see how OP is thinking Vince’s opinion is colored by the conversation (and maybe other convos) with that other Senior Person, so I don’t think it is TOO much of a leap.

    2. quill*

      If Jill is 26 she’s teetering on the edge of Gen Z… It’s never about the actual boundaries of the generation. It’s about old blowhards dismissing people under whatever their current arbitrary cutoff for the age you take people seriously is.

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Fellow elder millennial here –
      1. It costs nothing to be kind and thank people for their hard work! Why not do so for Bob and Jason while you are at it?!
      2. I’d love to know the backstory re: senior person and this 26 y/o “millennial” (By my math this person might actually be on the Gen Z cusp, but WHATEVER) and if the actual answer is, “This person isn’t letting me steamroll them on the phone.” Because gross.

      1. quill*

        I do wonder if it’s a “female junior employee is actually working rather than picking up calls from me, a more important person!” problem for this guy.

      2. JustaTech*

        I’d like to know the backstory on the 26 yo too! She doesn’t work for our company, and the person trying to steamroll her (because that person steamrolls everyone) is a woman, but I was still amazed that someone who works in a Highly Regulated industry wouldn’t understand why someone might prefer emails so that there’s a record of the conversation.

    4. ferrina*

      Vince is telling you that he has no plans to support Jill in any way, shape or fashion. He hasn’t been able to provide the stable resources that she needs, he’s not seeing (much less appreciating) her hard work, and he’s clearly taking her work for granted. A good manager would have been regularly checking in with Jill during the transition, acknowledging the challenges and thanking her for her dedication. You tried to flag that that’s something Vince should do just the smallest bit of, and Vince shut you down.

      I don’t know if this is an anti-millenial thing or not, but Vince is not doing right by Jill. At this point I wouldn’t bother trying to fix him. I’d quietly set Jill up with a few resources- maybe recommending AAM for some guidance on something else (so she can find the resume updating section on her own) or making comments like “Wow, you’ve done a fantastic job coordinating XYZ. That will be a great resume builder someday!” (I may or may not have done this for some of my staff who weren’t being treated right and the situation wasn’t going to change)

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        Yeah, what you’ve learned from this is Vince sees praising people who work for him as equivalent to them praising him–uh, no dude, you’re their boss! And he is quick to blame people for being young/inherent qualities when they won’t do what he says. He has a lot of problems going on and isn’t supporting Jill–sounds like you could help Jill move somewhere she’d be more appreciated.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      It doesn’t really sound like the millennial comments were relevant to the Jill conversation except that the phone call interrupted the meeting. Vince is ridiculous to whine about how no one praises him and to think you apparently can’t praise someone unless they’re significantly better than the rest of their team (maybe?? or will he only praise one if he can praise them all?)

    6. WellRed*

      I’m guessing if you really look hard, there are lots of problems at this company aside from this example. Vince has shown you something ugly.

    7. Kyla*

      Uh, it doesn’t sound like Vince has a thing about millennials, it sounds like you do! He didn’t bring it up in that conversation, and he didn’t reference it in regard to Jill – you’re the one making this about “millennials”. Maybe you need to think about why that is?

      1. JustaTech*

        Because Jill and I are millennials, and he agreed with the other Senior Person’s assessment that “millennials don’t want to talk on the phone” with a tone of “ugh”.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Are you sure Jill wants praise? Praise would mean absolutely nothing to me in this situation. In fact, if it didn’t come with solutions, I’d probably laugh.

      1. WellRed*

        I’d stop pushing for praise for Jill. When he hung up the call was the time to call him out on his sh*t behavior not ask again for meaningless praise.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yes, she does. I asked her before I went to the meeting if she wanted me to ask for more resources for her and she said no, because she knows that there aren’t any more resources available. Then I asked if she wanted me to tell Vince how awesome she is and she said yes and that she could really just use some recognition.

        I wouldn’t have brought it up without asking her first.

    9. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Vince took a call on speaker phone while you all were meeting, and insisted they should also be told good job before saying it to a more junior member of the team. Vince sounds like a glass bowl (reference to Carolyn Hax online chats in the WA post :) )

    10. Panda (she/her)*

      Also a woman and a millennial, and going to offer a slightly different take – I agree that it’s an issue that Vince seems to be weird about offering praise (no, it’s not just your direct manager who can offer it, I offer praise to peers all the time and it’s not worthless). But I would perhaps investigate the claim that Jill never answers the phone, because this may in fact be an issue. Not in a “millennials never want to talk on the phone” issue, more of a…people are trying to get a hold of you and if they are getting frustrated (and even more if they’re super senior and can impact your job) then that’s a problem. If I was Jill, I would want to get this feedback directly rather than just having someone say “ugh, millennials” and move on. If you do have the standing to kindly mention something, I think it would help Jill.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh, no, it’s not Jill that they were complaining about not answering the phone. Jill is super reachable (though folks are far more likely to email or message through Teams). The person they couldn’t get on the phone was an outside person.

  34. Rachel*

    One of my coworkers, who I consider a friend and frequently hang out with at lunch or outside of work, has a reputation for speaking out when she disagrees about how something was handled or anything seems unfair. Her advocacy is often well received, but sometimes, everyone notices that she takes it a little far, not letting something very small go even when everyone else moves on. (I’m NOT talking about anything that should really not be let go, such as harassment.)

    Recent events have opened my eyes to the level of negativity and drama that her behavior is actually bringing to the team. Previously, I just saw it as harmless venting, sometimes even welcome when it was about an issue that really needed to be brought to the table, but lately I have taken a step back and have noticed how it affects my mood after hearing her constantly rant about things that if I’m being honest, I don’t really care much about. I’m not a “good vibes only” person and I’m open to hearing about work issues, even small ones, but I think a balance has to be found. I can’t get equally outraged about everything, all the time! We work somewhere that is generally a good environment, and our team is wonderful. It’s not perfect but we like it here.

    How can I stay on good terms with this person but also embrace more positive thinking and get out of the negative feedback loops that she brings to the team? Is there any chance that she could become more positive if I responded differently to her complaints, or do I just need to distance myself more?

    1. ecnaseener*

      You could try being a very boring person to complain to. That doesn’t work as well in group settings of course.

      1. Rachel*

        That’s true. I think you’re right about this working in a one on one setting. Just to act uninterested in the drama of it all.

    2. ferrina*

      How have you responded thus far? I think sometimes the tendency is to nod along or validate the venting, and then that accidentally turns into a feedback loop. I vent to you- you validate- I vent more- you validate more-until that is the only communication pattern we know. Have you tried to respond differently? Maybe “Hey, I need a break from work talk. How about [sports/TV show/cool hobby you want to try]?” Or “oof, I’m exhausted and need to keep my thoughts positive right now. Like how I’m going to rock this report!” Or even “huh, I don’t mind it so much.” followed by “Wow, this is taking up a lot of your brain space right now.” With some people you could even say “I’ve noticed that we’ve gotten into a negative feedback loop. I have no idea how we did that, but I need to readjust it. Can we try limiting the venting to 3 minutes/talking about more exciting things, like how cool the new logo looks?” (this last one is to be used with extreme caution and only with people that respond extremely well to feedback)

      Pick the tactic that seems right for your situation. Hopefully a few times of this will bring her to a better medium.

      1. Rachel*

        These are good ideas, thank you. I think I am a good listener and I am easy to talk to, so I need to work on making it clear that I don’t want to be part of listening to these venting sessions anymore. I didn’t realize how toxic it was becoming until recently, but now I am seeing things more clearly. Changing the subject each time drama comes up should help get the point across.

    3. Gracely*

      I would distance a bit more; sometimes responding to someone’s negativity with “embrace positive thinking” can have a toxic positivity impact on the other person.

      I have some coworkers that are like yours, and what I try to do is save non-work-necessary interactions with them for when I’m already in a bit of a ranty/negative mood, because it lets me indulge myself a bit. If I’m having a good day, I often try to avoid them.

      1. Rachel*

        Ha! I didn’t think of it like that, but yes. Avoiding her when I’m having a good day because the negativity will bring me down. Yikes. Maybe our friendship isn’t what I thought it was now that I’m taking more time to reflect. Maybe we’re just coworkers after all.

        1. allathian*

          Maybe. You could make yourself less available to her outside of work, there’s no obligation for coworkers to hang out after work or during the weekend, at least not in any office culture that I’d consider healthy.

  35. OyHiOh*

    Leading with the question, can skip the editorial commentary below if so desired. My organization successfully hired the role I’ve mentioned a couple times recently! New person starts Monday. This is the first really, truly technical role that we’ve hired for, basically, ever, in the history of the organization and I feel a little lost getting New Hire set up and organized. Role is 2 parts developing regional cooperation in the area of building out broadband networks, and 1 part implementing middle mile/final mile broadband projects. What does this person want/need for their desk space when they start? Laptop has been purchased/IT setup and installation are complete. I mean, there’s the basic list of office stuff most people want somewhere nearby but, anything specialist to the role that I could anticipate and have when New Hire starts?

    TL;DR part

    Interesting things came up in the final hours of our hiring process. Hiring committee (comprised of board members, some with actual hiring/HR experience, and some just wanting to have a voice in the process) got very, very weird and twitchy over our New Hire having a big gap in his resume. Staff knows why (he addressed need to be primary caretaker for a period of time in his cover letter), and despite the twitchiness both before and after his interview, nobody on the hiring committee explicitly asked about it. That was annoying – if there’s something on the resume that bothers you, freaking say something about it!

    Board members also thought he was long winded and, by implication, wouldn’t know how to manage his time when speaking at BOCC/city council meetings (this will be a significant part of the role). Staff opinion was that you’re told when prepping for interviews to fully elaborate on your answers, and that when you go into a public meeting, you have a presentation prepared and know how much time you’ve been given so, completely different scenario. It was very interesting to see the different in board vs staff perception on this point!

    Board hiring committee were concerned that his tech skills were out of date. Staff weren’t worried at all. Every last member of the current staff, including our fearless executive director, has learned at least a portion of our roles, on the fly, after being hired. Since we don’t talk about knowledge gaps when we write our staff reports to the board, they frankly have no idea how much on-the-job learning all of us do. We’re confident that New Hire’s tech gaps will fill in very quickly.

    New Hire, as far as we can tell from two interviews and a lunch meeting to discuss the offer, has remarkably strong soft skills. I am so happy we went with him, over the other guy, whose tech credentials were solid, but made half the staff twitchy in regards to people skills and/or people management.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Re-office supply type stuff: can you let him get settled and ask him what else he thinks he needs? Some folks have particular preferences and others just do everything on their laptops
      A 90 day onboarding plan can be super helpful in terms of making sure he gets to meet everyone he needs to, shadow some folks, do some internal training, etc
      Congrats and good luck!

  36. Sporty Yoda*

    So, after sending out job applications/reaching out to recruiters, I got a request for a phone screen! Problem is, I misread the email; I thought the company representative would be reaching out to me to schedule the interview (eg sending a Calendly link), but I needed to send availability to them. Email was sent no more than a week ago; I’m just now getting around to it. How much did I mess up? Or is it just my anxiety being, y’know, constantly present in my life?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just send your availability and make no mention of the lateness unless they ask. It’s OK! They’re probably really busy as well.
      Good luck!

    2. Purple Cat*

      S()&* happens. You just calmly explain the error and respond with availability and reiterate how excited you are about the position. Since it’s been a week, they may have moved on, but they may not have. It will hurt nothing to explain and hope for the best.

      Good luck!

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’d just send your availability and not even mention the delay. I doubt they’ll notice.

    4. Distractinator*

      Nah you’re fine, they’ll be happy to hear from you. I (senior non-manager) been doing phone screens for entry level hires as a favor to the actual hiring manager as time on top of my normal job, and feeling guilty that my response times are totally erratic – so I totally don’t hold it against candidates. Response times from them have been everything from hours to about a week and I’ve seen no correlation between quality of candidate and length of time to get back to me.

  37. Karenin*

    Hi all! I’m nearing an offer for a product role at a start up (5 years old, 50 employees) and I’m trying to figure out how stable they are, but I’m not exactly sure where to start.

    Is there a good way I can find their financial statements / quarterly reports online? Or is this a normal thing to ask them to provide to me directly?

    What other metrics / flags should I be looking out for?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s completely normal when interviewing at startups to ask about funding, revenue path, runway, etc. I have usually done this in second or third-round interviews, especially if one of those is with a founder or C-suite executive.

    2. irene adler*

      DO they have investors? If so, they have to file a 10-K with the SEC -annually. This report is public. It may even be on their website. This report talks about all their finances, stability, issues, competitors, etc. It’s big and ugly but it has everything.

    3. irene adler*

      Ask about work / life balance.
      If that garners a chuckle and a comment about being too busy to have a life, walk away.
      If they indicate that they have busy and non-busy periods, that’s normal. And not an issue.

      Thing is, are the ones in charge in this for the long haul or just until someone purchases them. There’s a difference.
      If they are in it for the long haul, then the busy periods will result in management determining if more employees are needed to make sure all have a reasonable workload. Followed by actions to bring more on board. This is good. It means there’s an end in sight for the too-busy period.

      If they are just trying to sell the company, then they will make statements like “muscle through” or “everyone pitches in to get the work done”. They have no intention of hiring anyone, will work you to death so as to keep the bottom line as lean as possible to remain attractive to buyers. Flee that.

  38. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Feeling extremely frustrated this week. I’ve had a lot of people leave recently as we work in gov’t and right now transfer candidates are easier to recruit than off the street for [reasons] (my fellow gov peeps will understand!). We’re a hectic office and we are in an area that does not have free parking. I have no allusions that there are things that make people want to move on, though I like to think (and have been told!) that despite the grind it’s a good office and that people like working for me.

    I had someone give THREE DAYS notice. She had a lot of things to unleash to her manager which basically amount to that she’s just frustrated with the pace especially given that we are understaffed, and she is starting a new job and wants some time to decompress first. I am not mad at her for leaving. I am mad that, after 5 years, 2 promotions (intern to fellow to perm staff), and a number of opportunities to change teams when things weren’t working quite right, I wasn’t granted the courtesy of a standard 2 week notice because she wanted to throw a temper tantrum.

    Not looking for advice, just really frustrated and disappointed. :(

    1. Everything Bagel*

      Throw a temper tantrum? Did she yell and cry when she quit, or is the fact that she gave such short notice the actual tantrum?

    2. mreasy*

      Two week notice is a courtesy. I wouldn’t expect it from any employees who don’t feel they were treated with courtesy.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Work is frustrating for a lot of people these days. It sounds like you’re taking the short notice as a personal affront—why is that? It’s clear there were work-related areas where, as your own description indicates, this employee did not feel treated well. Look for the root of your frustration, which is really the root of this employee’s frustration, and use it as a learning experience. Don’t get frustrated with the employee doing what she felt was best for her. Also recognize that she gave three days’ notice instead of none- presumably that’s a calculation designed to get both you and her what each of you truly needs in this moment.

    4. Em*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated. It’s never fun to feel like you’re being left in the lurch. That being said, it sounds like you may be taking this more personally than is productive.

      You note that you “like to think people like working for [you],” but also use words like “hectic” and “understaffed,” and that the employee needed time to “decompress.” As much as someone might like working for you, that doesn’t compensate for being chronically overworked.

      Unless the employee was literally screaming and banging her fists on the ground like a toddler, long term overwork is very much a reason for someone to quit in frustration and, yes, the mental health implications of burn out are a perfectly okay reason for not giving longer notice.

      My sister just quit a job for much the same reason – she loved the job in theory, loved her coworkers, but was putting in 70+ hours (by herself most days) because of understaffing. She was unable to do basic things like go to doctor’s appointments, take her dog to the vet, or even get enough sleep to function well.

      I’d urge you – instead of feeling like this employee owes you something, focus on the (seemingly very valid) reasons why the employee is leaving and what, if anything, can be done about them.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Fellow gov peep here…..totally understand and sympathize with the frustration. Not sure what level of govt you are in, but I’m Federal and I can tell you that in my position there is not much that can be done in these scenarios to address the root causes of people leaving. There are a lot of moving parts and solutions (hiring, transferring employees to alleviate the burden, etc.) are slow. At my agency, for a while people were fleeing the premises faster than we could replace them, and then we are replacing partially or fully trained people (it’s a 2 year training process for my position) with brand new people which does little to alleviate the workload of fully trained employees.

      I can also say that I have witnessed some govt employees who will quit with super short notice because they know that there is virtually no repercussion…..govt doesn’t work like “real life” and those who stay long enough learn that pretty quickly. Short of getting fired, you could quit with no notice or 2 months notice and you can still get rehired at another agency.

      I think that a lot of people leaving right now might be in for a rude awakening. Most of the people that I have known personally that have quit their jobs are being hired at places that are also understaffed, so in some cases. they’re leaving one crappy scenario for another. Hope your situation improves soon.

  39. Lioness Rampant*

    I’m going to get fired soon- my PIP review is next week, and my boss has already dropped that I’ve failed it. But I still have to sit through the PIP review, where they’re going to ask me to reflect on my performance. This will probably be whatever they say to future employers.

    What should I say about my performance? Honestly, it’s been 90% better since before the PIP. I’ve still got a little work to do the things they flagged in the PIP, but considering they’ve provided no coaching or training, I think I’m doing pretty good! The thing that my boss is angry about is a typo. It went through 3 people who didn’t catch it, probably because they were junior, but since I was the most senior I’m the one responsible for it. My boss seems to consider it indefensible, but it really is basic human error. But it’s human error that occurred while I was on a PIP for other things. I have no idea what they consider normal levels of correction and I think they’d find something wrong with what I did on any document (it’s subjective things, like slide layout when my slide is fine but not great.) So do I fall on my sword and say that I’m terrible? Say I did pretty good all things considered?

    1. quill*

      Dunno but you can join me on the “boss, you can’t expect people to never make typos” train.

    2. Rachel*

      Take the high road. At the end of the day, you can’t control other people who are unreasonable, but you will feel better if you stay professional. Don’t say that you were terrible. It does not sound like that’s true. Represent yourself the way that you feel is most fair and accurate to you. Don’t stoop to this person’s level, because that will only confirm to them what they’re unfairly trying to prove.

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Thanks! I’ve been really trying to stay professional and friendly throughout. I was tempted to say “Yeah, I was terrible” because that’s what my boss thinks and that’s how I feel right now, but that’s really not the whole story. It’s a tough to represent my experience when I’m worried they’ll take that as “is okay with regularly making mistakes”. And I’ve tried to bring up the training issues, but my boss doesn’t think that’s an issue. But you’re right, I can’t default to saying I’m the worst when I’m not. That’s not fair to me!

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      That’s ridiculous. I’m sorry.

      For what to say, repeat their feedback in your own words – try and show you understood what was asked, then talk briefly about steps you took to correct that. You want a good reference, so you’re aiming for “this role wasn’t a good fit for Lioness’s skills but she is an excellent worker who takes feedback seriously”. Focus on the 90% improved stuff.

      And just remember: Chin up, you never have to see them again after this! A fresh start may be what you need to get your confidence back.

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        Thank you!! This is great advice, and I’m going to take it! I can definitely speak to the PIP and how I addressed it, where I messed up and how I corrected it the next time. That will definitely be a lot more balanced than what they would default to.

        I’m sort of looking forward to being fired. The job paid well, but I’m constantly anxious and really want a break. This place really has done a number on my confidence. One manager I worked with for five months didn’t know how to give positive feedback- she thought listing everything you could do differently was the best way to give feedback.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Tempted to tell you to channel your inner Alanna the Lioness, but she definitely would flip out :)

      1. Lioness Rampant*

        lol! Part of the reason this isn’t a good fit is that I’m a person of action and directness, and this place is hushed and “diplomatic.” By which they mean conflict adverse to a passive-aggressive degree. I can’t get honest feedback because no one will say “well that was crap, here’s what you need to do next time” or “wow, that was fabulous”. Everything is “thank you, I appreciate you. Every. Single. Thing.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Sorry you’re in this frustrating situation. Just a couple of words of advice.
      1) Keep all of your comments “professional”. Try to avoid any snarkiness or anger.
      2) None of the comments you make will be shared with future employers.

    6. SansaStark*

      Ugh I see my old boss is still torturing people for a typo.

      Can you leave this job off of your resume so that you don’t need to worry about their reference? If not…honestly, I feel like they’re going to say what they’re going to say if someone calls them so I wouldn’t worry about your response from that standpoint. When I was in a similar position, I maintained that I had done 90% better, etc. I don’t see anything that you stand to gain by falling on your sword.

      Make sure you make a record of that conversation and make sure you have copies in your personal email or whatever of the PIP and other conversations in case you need them if you end up filing for unemployment.

      Good luck. I promise there’s better out there waiting for you on the other side of whatever this is.

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m absolutely no expert – as you can see, I’m a teacher, where things work very differently – but given your comment, I’d be inclined to say something along the lines of what you started your comment here with. Something like “I realise there were problems with x and y which were the reason for the PIP. Since the PIP started, I feel I have improved by about 90% and am particularly pleased with the work I have done on z. I realise I have some more work to do on a and b. I will continue working on these issues and feel I will overcome them, particularly if I have x support.”

    8. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Sounds like your manager is looking for an excuse to terminate your employment. I’m sorry. That’s amazing that you improved while on a PIP, and I would focus on what you did well and bring that to your job search.

      1. Sherm*

        Yes — sometimes (but not always), once a PIP is in place, the employee will definitely be fired, and the PIP is just a formality. It’s possible that your boss is focusing on the typo as an excuse to let you go. I wouldn’t debate the typo, because your boss might just stubbornly resist. I would be thoughtful in response to all the comments, and I would propose solutions that would lessen the chances of similar mistakes in the future. Best of luck to you!

    9. ATX*

      Where I work, a PIP is the last action before firing, which is bound to happen regardless of how the PIP goes. It takes a long time to get to that point, probably a good 6 months if not longer, which includes documentation, conversations with that employee, time to improve, more conversations, etc. Then it’s finally time for a formal PIP.

      I only say this because although you think you’ve been doing better, it might just not be enough and time to move on. If that ends up happening, I would definitely suggest that you request to resign instead of be fired.

    10. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m not sure what your PIP was about, if it included typos as part of it or not, but I would say if you became 90% better with little to no coaching that would be really good. I would point out where you have exceeded and where you need help. If you think you could get away with it and nudge them and say something about no coaching or training I would.

      If the boss brings up the point with the typo explain that some mistakes are human nature and if the other people didn’t catch it either, it just shows how common those types of mistakes are. I’m assuming this was a small mistake like using the wrong type of your/you’re or something that everyone misses.

      I’m sorry but it sounds like your boss might not like you. Are there other people besides your boss that you could get their contact info for and aks to be a reference about your work.

    11. Distractinator*

      It sounds like your managers feel like the fit isn’t right and they’re not really able to articulate why, so they’re trying to list out specific things but that list ends up looking petty. There was someone who left my team after a PIP, and it was really a less of an improvement plan and more a 6 months notice to start a job search. But I think management tried to be clear about that.
      The higher-level the role is, the more often that’s true: the success metrics for a job are more about being an expert, being a trusted contributor, and less about achieving specific targets. In this guy’s case he was hired on a path to becoming a project lead and content creator, but reality was that 6 years into the job he was still about as good a contributor as the new hires, not ready to take on a lead role, and he was building a reputation that made it hard to put him on projects. How do you set an improvement plan for that? So they pointed out examples of things that didn’t work out well (like that one time they made him a mentored lead on a small project that crashed and burned), and he got shirty about it and tried to nitpick the details. But the details weren’t really the point, the point was that his trajectory in the role wasn’t going to be taking the role where it needed to go. SO I know you’re not this guy, and I know nothing about your actual job or performance. But my point is that the decision is about whether you have turned out to be a good fit to the role, not about any specifics of the last few months.
      The most helpful conversation to have would be to have full confidence that you’re a good employee, and you regret that they feel this role is not the right fit for you, but no hard feelings all around, ok? Ideally you can have conversation where you feel like the input you got at the start of the PIP was helpful and it’s made a difference to your work (or otherwise some takeaway learning experience for your next job), and you feel proud of what you’ve accomplished in the last few months. It would be really interesting if you can get them to say what wasn’t working for them in the big picture – and don’t argue with any of this, just listen! What was their vision for the role and how did you not match that? How long ago did they first get concerned? So far the conversation has been about your weaknesses in the role, and you can talk about what you’ve learned and how this will change what you bring to your next job (but it’s not about keeping this one!). What do they feel are your strengths that you should play up in a future role? (note you don’t have to agree with them, but it’s interesting to hear what somebody else thinks you’re good at)
      This is really like the breakup conversation at the end of a relationship – you’re not going to negotiate getting un-dumped by pointing out that you wouldn’t have done X if he hadn’t done Y, the relationship is over. It’s just about having the conversation and learning what you can, even if your main takeaway is that he’s a crazy exboyfriend you still learned a lot, relationships that don’t work out often make the next one work even better.

  40. The Wizard Rincewind*

    Not a Question, More of a Comment:

    Throughout my adult life, I’ve worked for small businesses where the corporate “structure” is played fast and loose; for example, I might be the most junior person there but I work closely with the owner. There’s more of a “we’re all one big team” feeling than “here’s a strict hierarchy” kind of thing. That’s still true today, but now that I have a coworker who’s just The Worst, I’ve fallen back on the safety net of the chain of command in a way I’ve never done before, because this guy is not a team player. He will not listen to anything that doesn’t come from his direct supervisor and even then, he’ll probably bitch about it.

    Before this person came along, I worked in a team that hummed along like a well-oiled machine. We were so collaborative and no one was passive aggressive or snide. It showed me what was possible and now I’m stuck with this fucking guy.

    So now I have to loop my supervisor in on nearly every single email I send to this coworker because otherwise, either nothing gets done or he’ll get snarky with me. It almost makes me long for the tangle of bureaucracy that a huge corporation provides, because if I have to appeal to my supervisor to get every single little thing done, I might as well enjoy an employee cafeteria and a fat paycheck while I do.

    1. WellRed*

      Can you make it your manager’s problem? Let balls drop? Have you even spoken to your manager?

      1. The Wizard Rincewind*

        I have. A formal complaint was lodged. But I’m not privy to the outcome and whatever was said, this guy’s still employed. He does good work and my boss basically never fires anyone unless it’s for something illegal or rank incompetence, so he’s here as long as he wants to be.

        (I am DYING to ask him why he hasn’t gone and found another job in this job seeker’s market if he’s so disrespected and frustrated here but there’s no real way to ask that with our antagonistic past without it sounding hella rude.)

    2. Silvercat*

      Unfortunately a huge corporation doesn’t guarantee a fat paycheck or cafeteria. :(

      Your co-worker sounds awful.

  41. practical necromancy*

    A manger in the office (not my direct, but I often work with them) often says a variation of “Does that make sense?” or “Make sense?” after his work requests. Its grating, especially when its often proceeded by very straightforward things, like “email this person,” or “make the logo bigger,” or “send this product to this address.” He’s over twice my age and worked with him for many years now, so while its annoying, I thought I made peace with this “quirk.” And to be frank…he’s done worse; I’ve had to correct some seriously inappropriate behaviors towards me in the past. Obviously I’m never 100% comfortable around him.

    It might be the magic era of my 30s, or maybe its just the post-pandemic ‘I’m so done with this bs’ attitude…but my patience is eroding rapidly. AND I’ve noticed he says this almost exclusively to women. To me, it reads as a microaggression – a symptom of his larger sexist issues, and I’m wondering if anyone has a script to push back? Or even just advice on how to grit my teeth until he retires or I move on? How do we deal with these older men who we all know will just NEVER GET IT? Men who even when they stop the overt sexism, retreat to the subtle kind?

    1. ecnaseener*

      If I were to push back on this at all, I’d do so with warm humor – “Tricky as that sounds, yes it does make sense to send X to Y address! I’ll let you know if I get confused, haha.”

      Only if you can do this without showing annoyance. It really just sounds like his personal verbal tic, instead of saying “ok?” he says this.

      1. practical necromancy*

        This is definitely how I’ve replied in the past – or with a slightly confused: “of course, it would be hard to misunderstand this assignment!” etc. I guess I’m just finding it harder and harder to take it. My smile is slipping into a grimace

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        My initial thought is that it’s a verbal tic. I’m fairly articulate, and work hard to explain what I want as clearly and concisely as possible. However, I sometimes get too verbose, and make relatively simple things sound more complex than they should be. To balance that, I often ask whether what I said makes as much sense as I intended for it to. It’s sort of second-guessing myself, but it has avoided confusion a few times.

        However, if there is a pattern of doing this more frequently with women than men, or in any way that reflects some disparity of treatment for any classification, it’s worth considering whether some bias (conscious or unconscious) is informing his behavior. I don’t really have any useful advice on addressing this issue, if that is what you’re seeing.

        Am I making sense?

    2. Purple Cat*

      Oof, this is a tough one.
      Can you kindly but firmly spell it out once for him? “Bob, you know I will follow-up if anything is unclear, please don’t feel the need to always close with “Make sense?”.

    3. ferrina*

      “Why wouldn’t it make sense?”
      or if you think malicious compliance will be more effective:
      “You keep saying that. Is that something that we should be adopting when we are sharing information to ensure that our communication is effective?” (Then make sure to say it to him until he stops saying it to you)

    4. Ali + Nino*

      I know in your case it feels sexist but I did have a (female) boss once say the same thing to me every single time she showed me how to do something. I think she was trying to get confirmation that I understood without being condescending, but it did sound a bit funny.

      1. ferrina*

        If he is only saying it to women then yes, it is sexist. It’s similar to the boss who calls everyone “dear” vs the boss who only calls women “dear”. One of those is annoying- the other is singling out a certain group.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Yes, but I think any calling out needs to be clear that the problem isn’t with the phrase, it’s that it is used almost exclusively towards women.

          I end a lot of my explanations or instructions with “make sense?” I started by doing it with things that are actually complicated and I ended up with it just being a habit. But I say it to everybody — zero distinctions.

          The issue here is not with what he’s saying; he could be ending his instructions by saying “zippy zappy flippy flappy,” and it wouldn’t be the point. The point is that he’s framing his instructions to women under his authority differently from the way he frames his instructions to men under his authority.

    5. Girasol*

      I had a boss who ended every email that way. Actually, I thought “Does that make sense? .. John” was his auto-signature, a clumsy solution to the debate about closing business email with all those maudlin closures like “Sincerely” and “Warmest Regards” and such. A tad condescending, yes, but understandable from that perspective. But as I am female, now you have me wondering.

    6. OtterB*

      You know your manager best, and it does sound like he’s using it in cases where it’s a bit silly, but I sometimes use a phrase like “Make sense?” when I want to (a) make sure I’m not being overly dictatorial and (b) give a clear opening for someone to tell me if what I’m saying *doesn’t* make sense due to something I’m not aware of.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Have other women noticed that this comes out just with women as well? If so, I would maybe get together as a group to say, “Boss, whenever you ask us to do something, you pretty much always follow it up with something like ‘does that make sense?’ To be honest, this makes us feel like you’re concerned we won’t understand basic assignments or instructions. We’ve noticed that this is something you do to women, and not to men. I know you wouldn’t want to give the impression that you’re confident in the abilities of your male employees but not your female employees, but that’s what this is doing. Can you please be conscious of that when you ask us to do things, and trust that if there’s anything we don’t understand, we’ll ask questions for clarification?”

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think the actual serious issues (whatever they may have been) are coloring your perception on this. It’s a very common phrase that indicates a pause for input / follow up. For example, if you knew the recipient was on vacation. Or that the logo could not be bigger because Reasons. Or anything else that might be pertinent to the request, but he didn’t know.

      You sound like you’re at Jerk Eating Crackers stage with this guy. This sounds to me like a verbal tic, the equivalent of saying “Roger, copy that.” You have observed him saying it to men as well as women, since you say it’s “almost exclusively,” not exclusively. And that’s just in your hearing. There’s no telling how often he uses it in conversations you’re not privy to.

      If it makes you feel better, you could come up with a rote reply (like, “copy that,” for example) so you don’t have to give this any more brainspace.

      I can be overly literal sometimes, but life is much less stressful when you don’t take every word that everyone says literally. I’m sure he has no doubts about your ability to understand email.

    9. *daha**

      When I was in Boy Scouts, we were taught a special procedure for when one person handed a sharp object (knife, hatchet, axe) to another. “Got it?” (Have you got a secure grip on it?) “Got it.” (I do.) “Good.” (Release the object.)
      Treat this like that. This is that manager’s procedure for handing off a task. Your response indicates that you understand and will undertake it and don’t have a follow up question. Pick a phrase and make it your standard response. “Acknowledged.” “Will do.” “Got it.” “Sure thing.” “As you wish.” You can add “you insufferable bastard” in your head if you’re sure you won’t say it out loud.

    10. JustaTech*

      If he said it to everyone I’d file it as one of those weird verbal quirks/null statements people just say even when it’s not quite the right thing (my dad says “that makes a lot of sense” a lot, and while it works in a business/professor context it’s weird in casual family chats).

      But. You’ve identified that the boss only says “makes sense” to women. Which makes it a gendered quirk and therefore not OK.

      So, you can call him out on it explicitly “you know you only ever ask women if something makes sense, why is that?”
      Or you could try and find out what he says to the men in the group when he would say “makes sense” to the women (does he have a different “end of conversation” phrase) and then when he says “makes sense” repeat his “guy” phrase back to him (or respond as though he said the guy phrase).

      You boss sounds extremely irritating.

    11. Distractinator*

      If you’re going to say something I wouldn’t hint around it. He asks “does that make sense?” and you laugh at him and say “I’m sure it’s just a verbal tic, but when you ask if a simple task makes sense, it can make you sound like you think other people are really dumb. It’ll help you build a better team if people trust you. Maybe say ‘Got it?’ or ‘good to go?’ or ‘I think that’s all we need’ or ‘ok by you?’ or something, and save the ‘does that make sense’ for when you want somebody to vet a bad idea.”

      1. BadCultureFit*

        If one of my employees tried to dictate my response process like that, they’d be on my shit list. It’s completely unreasonable for the OP to turn this back around on their manager when it’s a neutral, harmless verbal tic!

    12. linger*

      My internal monologue response to “Does that make sense?”, simply as a mechanism to keep myself sane-ish, would be to treat the question entirely literally, and spend a moment visibly evaluating such alternatives as “Manager fears he’s developing Alzheimer’s” before replying encouragingly, “Why, yes, it does” (and privately adding a sarcastic “Well done”). YMMV.

  42. MT*

    Does anyone have any ideas for outreach as a union for a (big) group that is mostly remote? I just joined a union and the ways of reaching members outside the confines of their work contacts (work email), during the work day (lunch time meetings, go grab a few folks from the cubefarm), have mostly evaporated.

    We have a really important contract negotiation coming up and we are trying to reach out to get more visible support from members but we don’t know how to “reach them” remotely. We have their personal email addresses but what sort of “events” or “communications” actually seem to work to get peoples attention?

    1. ferrina*

      Social media or messaging platforms. Slack or Facebook can be effective for this (depending on what your fellow members may already be familiar with). Asynchronous communication will likely work better with remote folks, especially if you’re in different time zones.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Our union does lunchtime Zoom briefings a couple times a year, but otherwise there’s no virtual outreach. What kind of support are you looking for? It might be easier to tailor your outreach efforts if you had specific results you wanted to get out of it.

      1. MT*

        We already have a monthly chapter meeting but we have something like 800 people. We want to bring the outreach more directly, to each department so we can talk about issues that are specifically impacting the marketing department, as an example.

  43. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

    I like my job and have built great capital and a network there. It’s also an incredibly high volume of work. I’ve been approached by a recruiter and started the interview process for essentially the same role, but 30% higher pay. The new role would require either moving across country or to a new country. I’ve done both before, but now I have a kiddo and am much more nervous. What are your best tips for starting a new job at a new company in a new state/country?

    1. Gracely*

      Make sure the increase in pay is going to be worth any increase in your cost of living in your new location.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Make sure ďecent child care is available (or decent schools). And ask for contact info for other parents who work there to get the real scoop.

      If it is another country it is particularly important to be sure you are clear on what they pay for with regard to moving, housing, insurance, language training if appropriate. Do they pay for yearly visits home?

      Good luck.

    3. Harriet Vane*

      I tend to prioritize where I live over where I work, to give you a sense of where I am coming from, but are you excited for the new role or the new location, or would it just be more money? I wouldn’t move for just money unless it were truly life-changing, especially because with kiddos sometimes you’re tied to the place because it shapes your kid’s identity. But if there’s something you’re excited about, it shows in the interview process and strengthens your candidacy.

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Get allllll the details about relocation benefits and support before accepting. We moved US to Canada and while that’s not a huge difference culturally and I don’t have any other move to compare it to, I would really not have wanted to go without all the help we got from the company.

      How old is kiddo? The younger they are, the more likely they will just take it in stride.

    5. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      Thanks everyone. This has been helpful for me to make a list of what to consider and what’s important for me. I’ve lived in our current location for 5 years and moved (pre kid). I’m not wedded to the location, though if course we’ve built friendship and community. None of the location options are particularly compelling (or repelling). It’s more about navigating a move and making sure compensation is worth the move.

  44. Helly R*

    Looking for some advice about whether to take a job offer.

    A few months ago I was job hunting and got pretty far into the interview process with 2 companies. One of them was a 6 month contract doing admin work, and the other was a permanent job doing something much more closely related to my background. The permanent job ghosted me and the temp job hired me. I started in January and it’s a wonderful, supportive workplace. The work is pretty easy, it pays well, my team is amazing, and my manager has already told me they want to extend my contract.

    Last week the permanent job reach back out to me and told me they had updated the job description to more closely fit my experience. They asked if I was still interested, I said I was (I was at least open to hearing what they had to say), we had a phone call and exchanged a few emails, and yesterday they made me an offer.

    I’m really, really torn! My new workplace is such a healthy place to work and it’s really difficult to imagine giving that up for something unknown, but again I am a temp and nothing is written. Maybe the budget to extend my contract won’t be approved, maybe they’ll extend it once and then cut me loose and 6 months from now I’ll be kicking myself for not taking a permanent job. On the other hand, the permanent job seems like it’s kind of poorly/chaotically run, if their hiring process is anything to go by. They ghosted me for months and now they come back and are being really pushy about timelines and getting me to accept the offer. I worry that they hired someone else who quit shortly into their tenure for, as far as I know, valid reasons. They pay slightly less than the temp job (but they do offer benefits). The work would be much more interesting, but also it’s stuff I haven’t done in a few years and I worry I’d do poorly at it and get fired.

    I’ve been running over the pros and cons in my head for the last 24 hours and I’m still not sure what to do.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d stay at your temp job and just keep applying for other jobs. Don’t take the poorly run ghosting job just because it’s permanent.

        1. quill*

          I did the “take permanent job because it’s permanent, nevermind the hiring process problems once” and it was a disaster. But the reality is that even though they probably won’t extend your contract more than a year or two at the temp job, you could also, like me, find a permanent job and get laid off from it within a year. A permanent job isn’t a guarantee, it’s just more stable than temp / ‘temp to hire’. Keep hunting.

          1. Helly R*

            This is an excellent point too – the permanent job is a start up tech company so their long-term stability is far from guaranteed.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Well I think the most important thing to do is to ask why the position is open again. That will answer your fear about somebody jumping ship (or getting fired) very quickly.
      The fear of doing poorly and getting fired is just anxiety and stress speaking. You sound very put together and aware of your skills, so that’s an unlikely scenario. Plus you are in a position now with a known expiration date.

      These probably aren’t the only 2 options in the world though, so you should probably just keep looking :)

    3. Water Everywhere*

      Stay where it’s healthy and keep looking for other permanent jobs that aren’t showing reddish flags.

      When I needed to leave a toxic permanent job, opportunities were scarce so I took the first offer of a six month contract position and left the rest to fate. It turned out to be a great decision for me. The new workplace had a fantastic collaborative culture and I fit so well that management got me a permanent position in the next budget. It can happen! Even if the job hadn’t turned permanent, I know I needed those six months to reset my expectations of what a healthy workplace should look like.

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Stay at the temp job. Lower pay (which will be even lower take-home because of premiums etc) for a, likely, more dysfunctional work place? Nope nope nope.

    5. zuni*

      I would absolutely not take the permanent offer. They ghosted you for months?? This is not a place that respects humans.

    6. Panda (she/her)*

      I disagree that you should just dump the offer of permanent work because they ghosted you 6 months earlier. Yes, it could be a sign of something systemic with the company, but unless there are other red flags it might also just be a disorganized recruiter. Or maybe their email went to spam. Having been on the other side of hiring, it isn’t usually as near a process as it should be.
      Your current role is temp, and it sounds like you’re getting close to the end of your contract. It is not something I would stick with on principle based on ghosting from the other company. If you like your current job and want to stay, you could take the offer to your current boss and say “I really want to stay, but I simply can’t turn down a full time offer from another company based on promises. Is there any way we can expedite making me a permanent employee here?” (This is not the same as taking an offer to your boss in order to leverage a counter offer, because you are currently a contract employee and it is understood that you would be job hunting towards the end of your contract).

  45. Free Meerkats*

    After our weekly managers’ meeting last week I had a discussion with my manager and his managers regarding my pending retirement. Essentially, I gave them my 1-year notice. My original soft date was late this year, but some things (mainly spouse dental work) made me push it into the next benefit year.

    I manage a group of 3 inspectors. The senior one has been in management for the city in the past and to quote them, “If nominated, I will not run. If elected I will not serve.” They don’t want the job. I don’t feel the other two are ready, they are both fairly early in their career in the field. So, out of the norm for the city, great-grandboss is going to go for approval to hire my replacement 6 months before I leave so we can make the transition easily. By out of the norm, I mean I’ve never seen this in my 30 years+ here.

    Retirement is starting to feel real now.

  46. Interns!!!*

    Found out I’m going to have interns this summer! What on earth should I do with them?

    They’re doing a rotation through different departments, and I’ll have 2 interns for 3 weeks each. One just completed their freshman year, and one completed their sophomore year, so I don’t think they’ll have much relevant knowledge, plus my specific field isn’t really covered in undergrad. They’ve each done some programming but not in python, which is what we use for most of our tools. It’s a small company, & we don’t have an intern cohort, so I can give them whatever project I want. I have some ideas for small tools/projects that are nice-to-haves that we haven’t gotten around to, and I think having them shadow will be helpful so they’ll see how operations are run (we develop, build, and operate specialized hardware). Most of my day-to-day I can explain but can’t let them actually do it, or at least not without intense supervision.

    So for those who were interns, especially in engineering/tech, what did you find most helpful? What was most valuable? Would you appreciate seminars on processes, industry knowledge, fun facts re: the hardware? Focus more on my specific company, or focus more on what would be helpful for their future careers? (Cos honestly if they don’t come back here, it won’t be helpful if they know that Button X does function Y). I never did an engineering internship in my field so I want to be as helpful as possible. Thanks in advance!!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Big picture stuff, related to the business world, that students won’t necessarily learn in the classroom. (how well universities introduce real-world stuff varies a lot from institution to institution, and department to department of course.) With just a 3-week rotation, you can really only count on them for gruntwork.

      “In your CS intro classes, you probably studied database structures. Here’s an example of how we represent our parts manifest in an order database. (1 hours of talking, 3 hours of reading). Now that you’ve seen the DB, I’d like you to (grunt task related annual inventory).”
      “One thing you probably take for granted in CS is that you have a stable power supply. Since our gear goes out into the field where we can’t count on reliable and clean power, we do XYZ in our hardware. Here’s our test bench for that. Sit next to the tech doing the certification test for each power supply and write down the results for them.”
      Etc.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      3 weeks seems awfully short. My workplace used to have interns do short rotations (may have 3 weeks… or 4?), and that just didn’t feel like enough time to be useful to us or to the interns. 3 weeks isn’t really enough time to train them to do anything useful for you. And it is barely enough time to train them so that they can learn enough to feel they got something out of the internship.

      Have you thought about asking your interns what they’d like to get out of 3 weeks?

      1. No Tribble At All*

        They’re at the company for 11 weeks, so they have three 3-week rotations plus a week each start and wrap-up. I agree that it’s a short period of time!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, that’s what we used to have, and I lobbied for changing it to one internship at a particular team instead of rotating. Having a longer time in one place has been much better for both us and the interns.

          But in the meantime, maybe if there’s one small thing they can get out of it (some Python basics) or one small thing you can get out (some menial tasks)?

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Having once been an engineering intern, give them opportunities for skills they can add to their resume. The most boring task in existence ended up being valuable to me because it let me say I had experience with analytics measurements and instroms. A super short project they can complete (not just data entry) if you’ve got anything feasible. If its not the same 3 weeks you could have one intern start it and the other finish it, 6 weeks would work for some stuff.

      The other main thing, they are trying to figure out if they need to switch majors, and what aspect of engineering workplaces they like. Getting to see what the nitty gritty of several roles looks like is so so valuable, especially at the freshman/sophomore level. I learned I could never do QC day in day out, I retooled my career plans as a result after my freshman internship, aimed for going to grad school for a masters to open up the doors to the head engineer roles that were more interesting that summer.

    4. Qwerty*

      Working on production code is a big mental shift and very valuable to interns. Since they are very junior for interns, tools that are side projects might work for their skill level, but make sure to show them *how* its going to be used and what the real world impact is. Include them in code reviews and design sessions for the more serious projects going on – they’ll be mostly silent or asking questions about why things are done a certain way, but its a building block.

      3 weeks is way too short of time. Is it too late to change the schedule so they do less rotations in order to have longer time on each team? Especially given the interns don’t know the main language they’ll be programming in – you’ll lose a lot of time getting them started and won’t really have a hand off period. Ideally they’d be pairing with senior team members during this time too where the intern is in the driver seat rather than just shadowing.

      Internships are a stepping stone, so think about what your intern will be able to put on their resume and talk about in future interviews. Would you want to hire someone whose professional experience is limited to the projects your interns are working on? They need to be put in situations where they acquire professional skills and learn to work in an office, because there will be higher expectations of them when they go internship hunting next year.

      Another recommendation for next year is to figure out what you’ll do with the interns *before* hiring them. That way you can hire for matching skillsets and give them idea during the interview process of what the work will be like.

    5. EMP*

      3 weeks so so short! Especially given they don’t know python. I would normally say nice-to-have but not critical tools would be ideal, but if I’d been plopped down as an intern and asked to develop something in 3 weeks in a new language that would be pretty intimidating. An even smaller task like “modify this aspect of this tool to do X and Y instead of just X” might be good, or even grunt work like data collection or data labeling where they can use your production system even if they aren’t adding much code to it.

      Process and industry knowledge is also good to cover although I’ve never had or sat through a seminar. Just being around a professional team will teach interns something and the shadowing is a good idea. Things I learned at early internships that served me well were software processes – ticket systems, unit tests, code reviews, run-break-fix, writing code to a style guide, how software teams work with hardware teams, that kind of thing. Nothing formally taught but just being exposed to the industry helped me figure stuff out.

      It’s a funny story for me now but here’s what not to do: tell someone else while your intern is sitting right there that you don’t actually use any intern written code. Even if it’s true!

    6. AnotherJen*

      In addition to what’s already been said here, see if you have any outstanding grunt work — one of our kids spent a couple of weeks scraping photos off the web and then labelling them so they could be fed into a machine learning tool. After that was done (and he finished fairly quickly, because he was motivated to find the next thing) he was assigned to build some facial recognition tools that could tell when users were wearing masks. (this was in summer of 2020, so still somewhat novel). The company got some work they needed to have done with cheap labor (the other choice was a PhD mathematician who didn’t want to do it himself) and he learned some stuff around how to scope out tasks so they can be completed, at least at some level.

  47. Other Alice*

    Tiresome clients. I’ve this client I hate working with, she’s very disorganized and a micromanager and a huge waste of time in general. She’s unfortunately also my largest account and the source of a nice quarterly bonus from my company, so I’d rather not ask to be reassigned. I’m just at a loss about how to communicate with her more effectively.

    An example: She emailed me today around lunchtime to ask if I was free for a 30 minutes call this afternoon, because her colleague had a quick question. I replied I was free between 2pm and 3pm, but I had a hard stop at 3pm because of another meeting. She then asked If we could do 4pm. I replied again, no I’m only available between 2pm and 3pm today, if that doesn’t work for you we can schedule this call next week. She said 2:30pm today would be fine, then sent a calendar invite for 3:30pm. I didn’t notice the mistake because I was hurriedly trying to finish the presentation for my 3pm call with another client, until I joined the meeting at 2:30pm and I was the only one there. I eventually got hold of the client’s colleague around 2:45pm (he hadn’t been in the original email chain) and explained the misunderstanding… Thankfully his question was something very quick that could be answered in 10 minutes, and as much as it pains my millennial heart to admit it I understand why he asked for a call since it was just easier to explain than emailing. However, I lost so much time with all the emailing back and forth to pick a time, and then the call was scheduled for the wrong time. Also when I asked the colleague why he needed an answer so urgently on the Friday before a long weekend, he told me he’d been asking since 10 days ago but the client kept forgetting, and it was blocking him from advancing all week!!

    Oh and the client herself never showed up for the call and stopped answering my messages. This is more of a rant than anything else, but is there anything I can do to to improve communication here? I’m at a loss. We’re contractors for this client’s company and they have internal rules, which is why communications are supposed to be just from this one person who is our point of contact, strictly speaking I wasn’t supposed to call her colleague directly but I was frustrated that if he didn’t show up for the call I’d have wasted my time.

    1. Gracely*

      Is there any way to get a new point of contact at that company? Surely they’d want to know that their person is this bad at communicating…

      1. Other Alice*

        She is a director level and in charge of the project we’re working on. The CEO thinks highly of her. Short of her leaving, I don’t see how she could be replaced…

        1. Gracely*

          Damn. Will she really be that upset if you go below her to get info more often (like, tell the colleague that if they need info from you and she keeps forgetting to ask, to just call/email you for what they need), or if, when it’s something that should really just be a short meeting between you and someone below her, you suggested that she just put you in touch with them so that she can save her time for other/more important/etc. things instead of wasting her time with scheduling?

          1. Other Alice*

            That is a good point. I think she would be upset if I try to go around her, yes, at least if she noticed it’s a pattern rather than a one-off instance of “I really needed to get a hold of Bob to give him the info by EOB”. Personally I’d rather have her be annoyed that I don’t follow protocol than be annoyed that the project failed or was delayed due to miscommunication, and my boss cares a little bit more about protocol but broadly agrees with me. Thank you for your advice! Trying won’t hurt!

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Would it be helpful to utilize a calendar management tool like Calendly for something like this? Client asks for availability, you provide your link and then pick a time? That would save you the huge back and forth that seems to be the culprit at least in this instance. I’ve got some clients that have a link in their signature with ‘schedule a 30 minute call’ and ‘schedule a 60 minute call’ that mentioned it has saved them eons of time with the back and forth nature of scheduling.

      1. Other Alice*

        It’s not really about the back and forth, it’s that she keeps misunderstanding, e.g. “I’m not available after 3pm” / “ok, would 4pm work?”
        Also I’ve tried sharing my calendar and she just ignores it. :/

  48. MoMac*

    Question for folks on home internet. I am moving next week and will need internet to do telehealth at home. Any ideas on the Tmobile vs Xfinity vs Verizon. Ideally, I would like a HIPPA compliant VOIP, along with internet tv, a hotspot, and a phone. Any suggestions?

    1. Hunnybee*

      I’m not a fan of Comcast, but that’s all that’s available in my area — they recently had a great deal for 600 mbps at $50 a month, and I have to say it’s been really good. I also tried the tmobile internet hotspot a few months back (before I found the comcast deal) and wasn’t able to get a connection above 2 bars.