open thread – July 8-9, 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.

{ 914 comments… read them below }

  1. Roxie*

    How do I tell my manager that I want to apply to another internal position? I want to tell him during our next 1:1 but am not sure what specifically to say.

    Background: My manager has only been with the company about 2 months, I’ve been here almost 3 years. I currently work in marketing (PPC specifically) and while the new role technically is part of the overall marketing department, the tasks are more around BI and finance. However I chatted (off the record) with coworkers I’ve known during my time here who are more familiar with the open position and they said that all the finance stuff is trainable so I wouldn’t need a new degree or certification.

    And any advice on what to say to make a case for why I want to move to this role? Honest answer: I like PPC, but I’m sick of getting all the work dumped on me and I have no room to grow upwards with this company with my current job. Professional answer: I’m interested in data analysis and BI and this role would provide an opportunity to move to that area. I’m not sure what else to say on how this fits into my career goals.

    Also regarding salary negotiations with moving to an internal role: Do I ask whoever what the salary range is? Can I try to negotiate a 5% – 10% increase (like if I was changing companies)? I’d also be moving from an individual contributor level to a people manager, so that could help with the negotiations, but I’m not sure what to say.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Depending on how your company culture is, can you talk to the new manager about what the role entails before telling your current manager?
      Otherwise, just bring it up! Remind him how long you’ve been in the role and how much you love the company and you’re exploring “what’s next”. Focus on “wanting to lean-in to your analysis skills but in a slightly different area”. Sounds like this might be a promotion as well, so you’d negotiate pay like you would for any other new job – with the caveat that MOST organizations don’t give as big a bump for internal moves as they would for external hires.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Is there another person on the team you could speak to about the new role since there’s no current manager?

          1. Roxie*

            Yeah I spoke to the person who had the role and is doing the hiring, but I wouldn’t be reporting to them (they also moved roles internally)

    2. RuralGirl*

      Depending on your relationship with your manager, there are various ways to approach this. I would go in with the assumption he’ll be supportive, unless you have a specific reason to assume otherwise. Tell him you’re interested in an internal role, what it is, and why (your reason for why makes sense and sounds professional). Sometimes managers respond well to some level of reassurance that they’re not the reason. If it will seem obviously true to him that your current role doesn’t give you room to grow, that’s a sensible thing to share as well. “I love our team and the work we do, but I’m really interested in PPC and I think this other role will give me long term growth opportunities that are important to me at this point in my career.”

      In terms of salary negotiations, I would start by just asking what’s typical. Some companies automatically give raises to internal folks who move roles even if the new role wouldn’t have a higher salary. Some will give a much smaller raise to an internal person than they would someone coming in externally. I would approach it as a question, “What is the company policy for increases in situations like this? If it’s role dependent, can you share the salary range for this role?” and take it from there.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think career growth within the company is a professional answer in addition to a personal answer unless it’s due to some factors that would change that. But generally, wanting a career ladder is kinda universal.

    4. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Maybe leave off the “sick of getting all the work dumped on me” :) But after 3 years, I think the no room to grow in my current position is a great reason to be looking at an internal transfer.
      Also, you haven’t really said what experience you’ve had other than this job and you don’t have a lot of experience with new manager but… given that you’d be going from individual contributor to people manager, you might want to see if manager has any advice/suggestions in that regards. Asking for advice can be a great ego boost that softens the blow. (Obviously that is dependent on managers personality somewhat.)

  2. No Tribble At All*

    Can I get a script for asking HR to make their forms available on our intranet so we don’t have to ask an HR person for each form every time we need one?

    Literally none of our forms (FMLA leave, tuition reimbursement, update your personal information) are located online — you have to ask, and that’s if you even know the form exists! We’re growing out of being a startup, so I guess they’re thinking it’s still fine to “drop by” an HR person? I sure would like to know what I’d need for a form before asking HR about it, and if the forms aren’t listed online, people won’t know they exist. Making it worse, we outsource payroll, so half the time you ask the HR lady about something and she goes “that’s not my responsibility! Call !”

    I suggested an HR portal in an all-hands call and some non-HR people seemed interested, but HR looked a little offended that I’d tell them how to do their job. I also don’t really trust one of the HR people because of some semi-public rude comments I overheard her make. But I want to escalate this “ask for forms” issue before it really bites someone in the butt re: privacy.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Emphasize that it helps the HR people too – they spend less time fielding these questions and sending people forms.

    2. Observer*

      I agree with @That Girl.

      I’d put something like “as we’re growing, HR must be spending so much time handing people forms. I’m sure they would be much happier not having to waste their time with this kind of literal paper pushing.”

    3. Squeakrad*

      A couple of things

      It might be helpful to look at the kinds of forms that other companies have online. For example, where I work, if you go to the HR page you can see what forms you can use there.

      It also depends on what your role is there. If you are an individual contributor and not in a management position, HR may be less likely to hear what you have to say. If that’s the case, is there someone you can approach wjo might help you get the buy-in that you need?

      My second point is a little more challenging. If you are thinking of the HR department as “the HR lady” it might be that you are not approaching them with the professionalism they would expect from a colleague.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I’d perhaps frame it as

      “It would be really usedful if the forms (and any policies) were available on the intrnet – it would free up time for HR as peolple would be able to check the forms to ensure that they had all relvant information before submitting them, reduce the number of times people have to interrupt HR to make requests, and of course has the benefit of making the process more trasnparent and user friendly” You could add something like “And hile of course HR will deal with enquiries sensitively, people often feel more comfortable if they are able to take some initial steps themselves”

      s there someone who is more senior to HR who you can take the suggestuion to? If HR don’t like it then having it suggeted by the boss or someone who has a degree of authority may help.

      You could also consoider whether there are other things it would be useful to have , so it is more of a ‘lets have a cental access point for useful documents’ rather than ‘lets take this out of HR’s hands’

      Where I work, we have an office manual on the intranet – it includes all of our policies, some of which, like the anti bullying / harassment policies are HR territory and some (like the anti-money laundering ones) are not, details of proceedings (again, this includes things like sickness a, grievance and disciplinary processes which fall under HR, but also a lot of stuff about SOP for setting up new clients, dealing with complaints, all the forms and processes relating to handling money /bills / etc)

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      TBH it sounds like you have an overall HR problem, not these specific forms…. If you had a well functioning HR this would either already exist or it would be no issue to ask about it..

      That said it seems pretty basic that they could throw up the forms on whatever shared systems you use

      1. anonymous73*

        This. If they were offended for you asking, that’s a bigger problem than having forms available to you online. It’s 2022. There’s no logical reason that a company should have paper forms accessible only by making in person contact with HR.

    6. RuralGirl*

      I might frame it as “something I’ve seen work really well at other organizations is X,” and then highlight how it will benefit them. If there is a real, material privacy concern, you can also share that, but since HR will be privy to private information whether you like it or not, I would be careful what you imply here.

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

      If they’re worried about forms being online available to anyone for some reason, and your org doesn’t have an intranet already in place, you could ask that they at least have them shared in GoogleDocs or something.

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

        Side story…during the pandemic my org’s HR has almost completely melted down — they were short-staffed to begin with but lost almost everyone including the VP. The interim VP and new folks, as they get hired, don’t really have anyone with longevity at the org to help train them or provide access to forms/policies/software etc. so they are cobbling together what they can but it’s crippled the rest of the org in some ways because we can’t hire people in other divisions at the pace that we need them. It’s absolutely imperative to get some self-service forms or intranet in place. Luckily, our payroll is done through our Finance department which is separate from HR.

    8. Gnome*

      I have a slightly different take. Don’t make it about HR. Make it entirely about forms. Yes, it’s going to be 90 percent HR, but… Work from home, purchase orders, building access, etc.

      You can say something like, “It would be really helpful to have all our forms online so we can access them when working remotely or when people who usually have them aren’t available.”

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, make it about a central place for all forms, handbooks, etc.. Surely they are already storing the master copies of all the forms somewhere? Ask that it instead be available read only/download on the intranet, etc. for everyone. It will save employees and any form-pushers time, it makes it easier to have one central location to do updates, it is standard for most companies (my company has just over 100 people and we have all our forms in a central spot available if you are logged in remotely or in the office). You could also put a commonly asked questions & answers page there, etc. to help out with common stuff. No one wants to physically get a form from an HR person, what is this the 1950s :P

      2. Worker bee*

        I completely agree with this. At my company, various departments use different forms and I discovered months ago that we didn’t seem to have one place where they were on our network. How I discovered this was when I was covering for apparently the only person in the company who knew where the updated forms were located, so I spent a decent chunk of my day searching our every possible keyword to find the forms needed.

        I did end up mentioning this to HR, and the woman who knew where the files were, and both thought it was a great idea to have them all in one place, so that’s something I’ve been working on in my downtime at work.

    9. soontoberetired*

      You might be able to show them that many established companies have portals like this (mine does). It’s a convenience for everyone, and one handy place to find out all the info on benefits and rules about the workplace so you don’t have to be bugging HR while they are doing things like hiring people. It’s a time saver once it is set up.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Line up your talking points. Don’t just list one reason, list several. People have good suggestions here.

      One suggestion I don’t see is that it will save HR people time in finding and handing out forms.
      They can also put the number for payroll on the site so people can see who to call directly.

      Don’t assume that was a “don’t tell me how to do my job” look. It might have been, “I can’t figure out how to put fill-able forms on line.” In other words, prepare for several easy-to-anticipate objections.

      Last. Putting the forms online will not stop snarky HR person from being snarky. You just won’t see it that’s all. The actual problem there is that the snarks are acceptable, it has nothing to do with the accessibility of forms.

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      How about this:

      “You know, an HR portal with forms and manuals for people to access as they were needed would free up HR staff from having to hand out forms to people ad hoc. They could also put up information that is now mostly verbal ‘frequently asked questions’, and thus leverage their time with automation of the boring stuff. It would be a win-win for HR and the rest of the company.”

  3. Chessie*

    I see people saying in these blog posts that they calculate benefits such at PTO and the like to compare to pay raises/cuts. How do you calculate benefits into a dollar amount? This feels like a very obvious thing but I’m confused. I just went from one job to another, with a slightly higher salary but I didn’t realize I’d be paying more for my medical benefits, so I’m actually taking home around the same amount as my last job. How do I calculate this in the future, especially because I can see insurance costs before accepting a new job?

    1. Alex*

      You can definitely ask to see the insurance plans and costs before accepting the job! That’s totally normal. Another benefit that is easily calculated is a retirement plan, such as a 401k match. My employer matches 5%, so in a way I make 105% of my salary.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        The other thing to look at as well is the actual insurance coverage. So you may be paying less per paycheck for the premiums, but if you have to pay more for prescriptions etc, that’s more $ out of your pocket. So check out deductibles, if the employer makes a contribution to your HSA, etc. Sometimes they’ll show you what percentage of the premium they pay.

    2. Savvy*

      Sometimes your employer can just give you a report of your “Total compensation” which would include benefits, so you could try asking HR or whoever would be handling compensation. You can also google “calculate total compensation” and some good websites come up that will walk you through it. Basically you just try to find out the amounts that the employer pays on your behalf regarding all your benefits, usually you can find these amounts on your pay stub. This would include the employer share of health, dental, vision (etc) insurance, any employer match for a 401k/retirement account, any “perks” such as free meals, gym membership or other random things, the amount of PTO, etc.

    3. Doug*

      I would ask to see the employee manual between the offer and acceptance phase of the interview process. Although I will acknowledge that if it’s a hiring process with multiple interviews that it could lead to wasted time on both sides. I kind of figure though that if a company wants to be known for their generous benefits, they should welcome the opportunity to discuss them,

    4. Antilles*

      For medical benefits, that’s difficult without getting into details because it’s so specific to your individual needs and the details of the plan – deductibles and co-insurance and annual out-of-pocket maximums and the direct per-paycheck cost and blah blah blah.
      You can absolutely ask though and usually they will gladly send along their annual benefits guide / description of benefits / whatever.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I have wondered if the difficulty is a feature, not a bug, of the American compensation system. Making it hard to compare situations disincentivizes job searching. I’ve noticed jobs with really great benefits are clear about and everybody else mumbles. As others have said, it’s difficult to be positive before your first paycheck.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          It also makes it harder to figure out if you’re really getting what you’re worth on the market.

        2. Gnome*

          Not only that, but if you do anything out of pocket (there are lots of areas, especially pediatric specialists, where it’s next to impossible to get an in network appointment), you can’t see the insurance company ‘s “allowed amount” until you file a claim. Even then, it varies by plan AND I’ve seen the same charge be reimbursed differently depending on who processed it. So if you have an out of network situation, you are flying blind.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          Health insurance is tied to employment in the US because during WWII, the government imposed salary caps so companies started offering health insurance benefits to attract/retain employees. That didn’t go away after salary caps were lifted at the end of the war. So it initially started off as a positive thing, but it definitely has a side-effect (intended or not) of making job-searching more difficult!

          1. Sloanicota*

            But why is the health care on offer so hard to parse? It is rarely easy to find out at the interview stage what your monthly cost will be, in my experience. Maybe others are better at this. They should have to tell you in a standard way, how mortgages have to do it.

            1. Purple Cat*

              Any company should be giving you your benefits overview WITH the offer, if not before hand. My new company, old company, and DH current company all had very similar set ups for their documentation. It laid out weekly costs, HSA/FSA contributions, deductibles, etc.

            2. Hlao-roo*

              I’ve asked employers for more detailed benefits information when I’ve gotten offers from them, and so far they’ve given me the plan information (co-pays, deductibles, and monthly cost to me). I may be lucky in this, I think I’ve read other people on Ask A Manager who haven’t been able to get details before they start working somewhere.

            3. Nesprin*

              The devil is in the details with healthcare. And mortgages really aren’t a easy comparison- mortgage details are interest rate, down payment, terms and adjustment terms. Insurers frequently have in network and out of network rates, differing coinsurance rates for different services, etc.

              There’s a huge difference in my end costs if my prescriptions are on an insurer’s formulary vs. if they’re not. Like 1000/mo cost difference. This is modified somewhat by coinsurance+ maximum out of pocket rates. Or think about fertility treatments- they’re occasionally covered, and if they are, that can be a hundreds of thousand dollars benefit but you’d have to be aware that’s something you would want, and willing to read through oceans of fine print.

    5. Purple Cat*

      First I focused on the hard dollars: Base Salary, Bonus, 401(k) contribution. My current company is decent on the first, exceptional on the last 2. So I had to negotiate hard for a higher base elsewhere to compensate for what I was losing on the other 2.

      Medical: Same thing. Your premiums are a reduction to your salary, so if a new company expects you to pay a higher amount it lowers your take-home pay. Just add it to your spreadsheet. Actually figuring out what you are going to pay out of pocket under different plans requires a PHD and a Seance IMO so I didn’t bother.

      PTO: For me, this is less $ and more life-work balance, but you can absolutely take your annual pay / current PTO days and compare that to your future rate.

      So your totals would be:
      Base + Bonus + 401(k) – Medical + PTO = Total Compensation

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yes this is the basic formula I used when job searching. Some of it is hard if they won’t give hard numbers on medical but you can ballpark it.

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed, this is a good basic formula. It won’t get into the nitty gritty if you are going to lots of specialists and have lots of prescriptions, but it covers the bulk of it and is how companies do their annual total compensation reports too.

        And adjust to suit, I have deal breakers (certain amount of PTO is one of them) or strong preferences so you might weight something more than someone else. Like I might count PTO x 1.5 at least up to a certain amount.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      Like Alex says, you can ask about insurance plans/costs and retirement matching benefits when you’re interviewing. This is usually done during the offer stage if they haven’t given you detailed benefits information earlier in the process.

      If you want an example, let’s say you want to compare two job offers:

      Job 1:

      Salary – $50,000/year
      Health Insurance – $75/month
      401(k) match – 6%
      Vacation – 3 weeks/year

      Job 2:

      Salary – $55,000/year
      Health Insurance – $150/month
      401(k) match – 3%
      Vacation – 2 weeks/year

      Assuming you donate at least the matching amount to the 401(k), the math works out to:

      Job 1: 50,000 * 1.06 – (75 * 12) = $52,100 per year (pre-tax)
      Job 2: 55,000 * 1.03 – (150 * 12) = $54,850 per year (pre-tax)

      From there, it’s up to you if an extra week of vacation is worth a $2,750 hit in salary.

    7. Lora*

      HR should be able to give you a breakdown of the costs per benefit you choose, and tell you how much you pay vs how much the company pays. If they give you a list that just says “we cover 20% of premium” type of thing, they should be able to tell you last year’s numbers for how much exactly to the dollar that is and they will likely be able to take a guess at how much increases are likely to be next year. They should also have the details of deductibles and any GTLI type of stuff that is taxable income, and what their pay periods are. You also have to figure your average tax rate according to the IRS schedule, which is
      Your first $9950 @ 10%
      The next $30575 @ 12%
      The next $45850 @ 22%
      The next $78550 @ 24%
      and so on
      So if you’re making $100k your average federal income tax rate = 18%
      Plus state income tax if you have that, plus 6.2% for Social Security, plus 1.45% Medicare tax.
      For example if I live in Pennsylvania, my taxes coming out of my paycheck would be 18% Federal income tax, 3.07% PA income tax, 6.2% Social Security and 1.45% Medicare = 28.72% total tax rate.

      Here’s how I calculate it:

      Pre tax income per paycheck = (Number in offer letter + GTLI or similar benefit that is taxed as income)/pay periods per year
      Pre-tax income – (sum of my share of medical, dental, etc. benefits that HR has given me) – 401k contributions = taxable income
      Taxable income x tax rate – any taxable benefits = your actual take home pay

      Then I add up whatever things I paid out of pocket the past couple of years that would normally come out of a deductible: $500 for glasses, $40/month for medication co-pays, things like that. Since healthcare provider billing services are AMAZING at skating right up to the edge of that deductible, it’s practically a guarantee that whatever deductible there is I will somehow use 99% of it, that’s out of my take-home pay too, so I divide that number by number of paychecks and subtract that as well.

      It’s not perfect because there are frequently weird discrepancies and “whoops we calculated your taxes wrong” issues but if your Payroll department is reasonably competent this should be pretty close.

    8. Doctors Whom*

      We give our candidates our benefits guide when we make an offer, which has everything in it from per pay period contributions to copay schedules. I would simply ask for the benefits guide/list of benefits, coverage, and cost.

      When evaluating the role health insurance plays in a comp package, I do run a spreadsheet based on our anticipated health care needs and the plan in question. ($85/mo with 10K deductible can be a wildly different cost scenario from $200/mo with zero deductible).

      Calculating the value of PTO is pretty straightforward, or at least approximating it is. Assume a week of PTO is a week of salary/wages. If you’re going from a job with 6 weeks of PTO to one with 3 weeks, that’s extra 3 weeks of salary worth of dollars that you’d need in cash comp just to break even (all else being equal).

      Let’s say you make 60K a year and have 6 weeks of PTO and you are offered a job at 65K a year and 3 weeks of PTO. 3 weeks of PTO at your 60K/year job is what, ~3750? So the 65K job isn’t really a 5K raise, it’s a $1250 raise.

    9. talos*

      There’s good advice here already – just want to point out that you should ask about HSA match (which is also a hard number) as well as things like 401k.

    10. Jones*

      Yeah, I wonder about this too. I get that you can see the basics and calculate them–but I’m on four medications and see a bunch of doctors, and it’s hard enough to parse how much everything is going to cost me within the insurance company’s app, let alone if I’m going off of generic plan info. Anyone in a similar situation been able to figure out ahead of time whether they’ll be better off or worse? Knowing how much your premium is is great, but not enough unless if that and the occasional copay is the extent of your healthcare costs.

      1. Nesprin*

        A good stand in is the annual out of pocket maximum.

        Otherwise you’re pulling formularies, and confirming that your preferred specialists are in network, which works until they change either next year.

  4. Ready or not? (not)*

    For those that have been forced back to the office after 16 months of working remotely, do you have any tips or hacks on how to deal? Starting Monday we are mandated back to the office every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It’s mandatory so there is no exceptions or getting out of it. This company is one of the biggest in our line of work and I am looking for another job but the market is tough right now. Threatening to quit won’t do anything as a mountain of applicants would come in even knowing we aren’t fully remote anymore. So any hacks or advice for dealing with a mandatory return to office? Thank you in advance and have a great weekend!

    1. StellaBella*

      We are about 120 in our building and are back at 50%. I still mask all day (maybe 10 colleagues in past month have gotten COVID for 2nd time tho vaxxed). Keep boundaries. Leave at normal times to deal with commuting. Keep looking for a job. Take a few long weekends if you have the PTO. Hang in there.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Find the good in it. Get some new desk decorations or office supplies to make being in office more enjoyable for you. Get a new podcast or CD for your commute. Start walking back your wake up time now if it needs to change (going to bed earlier, getting up earlier) to leave time for commute. Revisit your work wardrobe make sure things still fit if you’ve been sweatpants while at home. Do the mental exercise of naming 3 good things that happened today on your way home so you don’t just fixate on the bad and ruin your evening.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Wardrobe tip: specifically make sure your shoes are still suitable & in good condition.

        I agree with all these, but also, take your breaks & get outside as needed. And plan to decompress when you get home. I only have to be in 2x a week, but my introvert self now finds the office exhausting.

        Make sure you have good earbuds. Also, I got a sign for my cube that spins to let people know if I’m out of the office, in a meeting (all hybrid or virtual still), they should knock, or to not disturb. (Love that there is no option to just come in & bother me.)

      2. M_Lynn*

        I bought myself a new hand-thrown mug to keep at work, and it brings me joy every time I use it! That, and if possible, use time in the office to connect with coworkers you haven’t seen in a while. Schedule happy hours, coffee chats, lunchtime “meetings,” etc. My office (been back about 6 weeks) is really taking the new truism to heart that onsite days are the new offsites, and meant to build relationships, rather than strictly completing your to do list.

    3. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      It’s unexpectedly exhausting the first week, so book a massage if you can afford it, plan to have your favorite dinners, pack your favorite lunch, buy yourself flowers–treat yourself like a delicate flower for a little while. Reward yourself with relaxing weekend plans (this is not the weekend to dust the baseboards).

      1. Malarkey01*

        Can I just say I love the phrase “treat yourself like a delicate flower” and I really needed to hear that in regards to other burnout items. Thank You!!

    4. Observer*

      It’s mandatory so there is no exceptions or getting out of it.

      I don’t know your company, so I have no idea if there could be exceptions or getting out of it. But the fact that it’s mandatory does not NECESSARILY mean that there are no possible exceptions in many companies.

      Why do you not want to go back? If your company is reasonable, the reason why you don’t want to go back could make a difference in whether it’s possible to get an exception.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        they specifically said there are no exceptions so it doesn’t seem possible here..

        1. Observer*

          They did, but the way they put it makes me wonder if they could be misunderstanding.

          Now, there are companies that really never make exceptions for anything (sometimes to the point of illegality.) But in others “mandatory” means “you need to do this unless you can give us a really good reason why YOU should not have to do it.”

          If they have not done so, it’s probably worthwhile for the OP to think about which category their employer falls into.

            1. JSPA*

              “There’s no work from home on those days”

              =/=

              “nobody can take time off, nobody can get sent to work- related training, nobody can be out sick” (etc).

              We’re pointing out that if you’re leaving anyway, and desperate to not be in the building just in time for the 7th wave, there may be ways to spend time elsewhere, even in the complete absence of a “work from home option.” As was true before covid, and before the existence of “work from home” in most companies.

          1. Churlish Gambino*

            How about we trust OP when they say “It’s mandatory so there is no exceptions or getting out of it” and answer the question they actually asked instead of speculating about how they could be misunderstanding something that clear-cut?

            For OP: If funds allow, getting some new clothes that you love and look great in are an incredible mood-booster when facing something you’re dreading. If your commute is long, look into some fun podcasts (Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend is one of my favorites right now) or audiobooks — if you don’t use this already, I highly recommend the Libby app by Overdrive so you can rent audiobooks from your library. Make a grocery list of all the ingredients needed to make your favorite lunches to take to work, and/or your favorite dinners so you have something to look forward to at the end of the workday. Maybe get a couple of fun desk decorations to spruce up your office space.

            Are there things you miss about the office that you can remind yourself of to quell the dread? Maybe a favorite lunch spot or a coworker you’ve missed catching up with in person? Maybe the bathrooms have really nice-smelling hand soap that also doesn’t dry out your hands? Seriously, even the littlest thing can make coming back more bearable.

            I would also recommend repeating, out loud or in your head “Three days is better than five” as a mantra. Not in a “well it COULD be WORSE”, dismissive way, but just as a reminder that you still have Mondays and Fridays at home and that’s a good thing! Fake it ’til you make it, you know? But whatever happens, just know that eventually you’ll get into the rhythm of this kind of hybrid work, just like you did when commuting 5 days a week and when you had to work remotely 100% of the time. Good luck!

    5. Beka Cooper*

      I’m not sure if this is great advice because we have been doing this under the radar, but my coworkers and I (3 of us) have gotten very relaxed about when we come in on our in-office days, taking impromptu work from home days, and stuff like that. We only have a small amount of work that has to be done in office (like opening mail), so we just make sure that’s covered each day and might leave early to work the rest of the day at home, or start at home and come in after lunch if we have an appointment. However, technically, we are all only supposed to have 2 days/week of work from home and we have to keep it consistent (so no trading days with each other). But our positions are all in a separate office from the rest of our department and after COVID got us all used to using chat for everything, nobody ever comes to our office anymore. So it just gets depressing sitting by yourself in an empty office the whole day when you could be comfortable at home. So I would say, since we have the ability to do this, it has helped us adjust to being back to a stricter schedule. Like I had flexibility to drive my kids to school when my husband couldn’t do it. However, I think eventually we’ll get noticed and maybe monitored more closely, so it won’t work forever.

      I guess overall my advice related to that is–try to keep a hold of some of the work-life balance shifts in perspective, if you can!

      1. Beka Cooper*

        Oh also, when things come up that would in the past have required me to burn PTO, I have sent an email to my boss and said, “My kid is sick today, but I can get some work done, if work from home can be approved. Otherwise, I will plan to use a sick day.” And yeah, they usually prefer that I work, haha.

    6. RPW*

      This is not fun advice, but if you do have colleagues who have been in the office the whole time, be mindful of them; Alison’s gotten letters and people have written in the open threads about how much they disliked hearing co-workers complain about being back when they’ve been there the whole time. You’re right to be upset, but don’t act like it’s a hardship for everyone when some people have been back in the office since 2020.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would recommend thinking through the reasons that you want to WFH, and the business reasons that it is better for you to be remote and have them ready at hand.

      Then, on return day, be as pleasant and cooperative as you can manage. Give everything the benefit of the doubt. Wear your mask, listen to something great on your commute in. Assess how the rest of the office is handling the situation and how many of your needs/concerns have been addressed or have the potential for discussion.

      If it remains intolerable, then start with the business case for any changes in the office setting (e.g., air flow, masking policies, etc.) — perhaps it’s possible to have one of the in office days be flexible (e.g., Tues/Thurs in office and one of the M/W/F days in office).

      And then think about individual accommodations you want to request — with the business reason why it will make sense. (e.g., you or a family member is immune-compromised, most of the work you’re doing has been effective remotely, and reducing your WFO days to 1 day a week would reduce exposure possibilities and still allow for the in-person interactions required).

      Roll those requests out calmly and without panic or frustration once you’ve built up some social capital as being someone who has given the new rules a fair try.

        1. Melissa*

          Yes, depending where you are, don’t expect the lunch restaurants to be running at full speed.

    8. anonymous73*

      You don’t say why you’re hesitant to return to the office.

      If it’s COVID related, do what makes you comfortable – wear a mask and if someone questions it, set boundaries by telling them it’s your choice. No need to explain. Shut it down immediately.

      If it’s just generic to having to commute back and forth and being around people again, make sure you have time in the evening and the weekend to decompress. After working from home, it will most likely be physically and emotionally exhausting being back in the office having to get up earlier, travel back and forth, and just be around people again when you’re used to being alone most days.

      1. CG*

        Seconding your second piece! If you can, I recommend going light on post-work commitments/social obligations for a few weeks as you readjust to this big change. I also have been scheduling a coffee or walking catch-up meeting with a coworker on some of my less insane in-office work days, to get me away from my desk, moving, and building in-person ties.

    9. Workerbee*

      As another commenter suggested, even if the company led off out of the gate with “No exceptions!!” that could just be a tactic meant to squash people asking about it before they start. Of course you know your org best. If it feels safe to you to do so, I’d recommend asking about it regardless of their rather rigid policy.

    10. Purple Cat*

      I know the world has changed, but presumably, you were going to the office full-time pre-pandemic, so try to focus on this as being better than that because at least you still have Mon/Fri at home – which as a forced return to office goes, letting you be home those 2 days, is pretty good.
      Otherwise, focus on the impromptu conversations and chats you might have been missing WFH. Build your own flexibility into your schedule (if possible). Maybe start a little later when you’re in the office than you do at-home. Treat yourself to a coffee or lunch when you’re at work that you don’t get to do at home (if that fits your budget). Something to feel “good” about going in.
      And absolutely, get yourself some goth office supplies!

    11. Kat Maps*

      I have found myself in a similar situation (except 2 mandatory days instead of 3). I’ve really been struggling with having to be back in the office, largely because I don’t see the point in it and it’s been exhausting. Some of the things that I have done to help myself, though — invested in some good quality masks for some small peace-of-mind, comfortable but work-appropriate pants and shoes, and keeping things to look forward to either at the end of the day or week to help myself mentally get through the day.
      That being said, there’s been some quiet push-back against mandatory in-office days from my colleagues. I’ve been told that our mandatory in-person schedule may change come the fall, so I’m hopeful (although who knows if it’ll change for the better or worse). Maybe if you feel safe doing so, it’s a conversation you could bring up with colleagues.

    12. Hotdog not dog*

      I have the same schedule. One thing that helps is that our dress code has relaxed significantly- it’s “dress for your day,” which in my case usually means comfortable pants/capris, t shirt and sneakers.
      I also treat myself to a fancy coffee on office days. (Thankfully it’s not an extra expense; we have a super fancy coffee maker at the office.)
      I don’t know whether your company would be willing to do little things like that, but it helps reduce the sting of commuting.

    13. Lizzie*

      I’ve been back about 2 days a week for the last few months. My situation is a bit different in that its a lot more flexible. They left if up to each groups supervisors, and mine are fine with 2, sometimes one, and no set days. But for me, I found it helpful to come in the same two days when I can, to get back into a routine.
      I also found (which I really wasn’t before) – having all my stuff ready the night before is very helpful. So I just have to make coffee and throw stuff into my lunch bag from the fridge.
      I also went through my closet, and put together outfits, and hung them in one spt. since all I’ve been wearing are leggings, shorts etc. so now I just have to grab one and go.
      And give yourself time to adjust. The first few weeks I was exhausted! and had some trouble concentrating in the office due to the switch.

    14. Alice*

      Some thoughts from my experience, as someone who is very COVID-cautious and Not Happy about having to work in person again
      (BTW, for RPW, I was advocating for COVID workplace safety long before I personally had to return and indeed ordered and paid for better-quality PPE so that my on-site colleagues, who were not being provided with respirators by our employer at that time, could try different models and find out for themselves that it’s not always uncomfortable.)
      – make a plan for how you are going to have lunch safely. I go outside. I have a battery-powered electric blanket (not needed now in the northern hemisphere obviously) and a “picnic kit” with cutlery, napkins, etc. If you need to bring a camp chair, do it.
      – comfortable noise-canceling headphones — you’ll probably be wearing them more in the office than you were WFH
      – check the ventilation in your space. Tie a ribbon to the end of a long stick and now you can check if there is air moving through the vents in the ceiling.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      We’re mandatory back in the office with roughly the same in-office requirements as you. As for advice for dealing with it, honestly? Just get it in your mind that it’s required and it sucks, but it’s out of your control until you find another job; you still get to WFH two days–could be worse; and everyone else has to do it, too. The longer you rail against it in your mind, the harder it will be for you. My first couple weeks back were rough and I absolutely hated it. But once I realized I have some structure back in my day, I have lots of good restaurants near work if I want lunch out, and I actually missed talking to coworkers, I accepted it. Now it doesn’t suck nearly as much as it did. I still hate having to get up earlier and commute, but it’s only a couple days a week. I can live with it. And if someday I decide I can’t, then I’ll go find a job that’s remote.

    16. JenB*

      I’m on a similar schedule and things that I do are: plan good lunches for office days, if possible structure the work week to do certain work at home and other at the office (specialized software I use works faster in the office, I prefer do to heavy meeting days at home, stuff like that), stop by places on the way home – the nicer grocery store that is closer to the office, etc.

      The advice to check out the condition and fit of your work clothes is good – I had a few things that did not do well with 2 years of hanging in the closet. Also, if you have gotten into the habit of doing chores around the house during the day, it is suddenly going to seem like you have so much housework, so think about how to manage that change.

    17. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      I would say definitely expect it to feel like whiplash a little bit, and expect that to last more than a couple of weeks. I had a hard time putting on clothes and doing hair and makeup again, waking up earlier to do that stuff and get out the door. Getting into the swing of commuting (e.g. travel time includes unpredictable stuff), remembering I could eat out at work, and setting up my workspace and daily schedule was really challenging for a while. It took a long time for me to remember how to focus in a busier space again. I strongly recommend making sure you have a stretch break or go on a walk (or both) each day, it helps it feel more manageable – at home I would naturally get up and do those things while grabbing snacks, walking the dog, etc, and in the office those cues just aren’t there.

  5. Lavender Latte*

    Finishing my graduate degree, and looking for a job. I have multiple health conditions that are getting worse; they impact my ability to work in a traditional office setting. I need a remote job because of the pandemic – and maybe beyond the pandemic. The majority of friends and colleagues in their 20s, 30s, & 40s have gotten COVID. The reigning attitude now is that if you are young and healthy, COVID will be a bad cold that takes the better part of a week, and then you’ll be fine. But I’m not healthy. With my health conditions, COVID could destroy me.

    Alison has often advised discussing illness/disability in job-related discussions as, “I was ill then, but I’m recovered now! Tell me more about the exciting llama grooming project..” But what happens when you never fully recover and are chronically ill? How can I network and find a remote, lowish-stress job without disclosing my need for remote work as an accommodation?

    1. Saraquill*

      I’m in a similar boat.

      If you went to college, vocational school or other institution with an alumni association, could you network through them or a related career services center? I felt freer to be upfront with my health related remote preferences with them than a potential employer

    2. LordessOfLaMancha*

      I can’t say that I’ve had to try this out yet, but I’m also someone who’s chronically ill and in need of working from home.
      You can ask about how friendly the company is about working from home both generally and due to illness without specifying chronic illness during the interview process, which should give you a decent idea how open to a work-from-home accommodation they would be (and you’ll hopefully get an idea if it’s a particularly dangerous office environment in terms of people coming to work sick), and then you continue on with the interview without ever bringing up your chronic illness until you get an offer. Then it’s a typical ADA negotiation process.

    3. Savvy*

      If you have a chronic illness, likely it would be considered a disability under the ADA, and you could ask for a reasonable accommodation (such as working remotely, if that’s possible for the job you have). You typically start this by approaching HR and saying that you have a health condition or disability that is impacting your work, and you want to request an accommodation. They may ask for documentation from your doctor to clarify that you do indeed have a disability, and specify what your limitations are and suggested accommodations.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Just to flag–I think there are exceptions for companies with fewer than 15 employees.

        1. CG*

          One other thing to flag is that although you can propose remote work as a reasonable accommodation, employers may decide that another accommodation (like “allowing you to wear a mask”) reasonably addresses the concern instead.

    4. Sundial*

      I found a remote job by concentrating my efforts on companies with a wide reach (national or global) but whose headquarters are farther away from me than commuting distance. IMO it’s easier to find a far-away remote role than to try to force a local job to let you be remote.

      So, if you live near NYC, look for companies in Boston, Atlanta, LA, etc. Cross-reference your specialty with companies that would need you, then organize by location. Treat remote job searching matter-of-factly, so you won’t have to worry about asking for accommodations.

    5. RagingADHD*

      In networking, you can just say you’re looking for remote work. It is an extremely common preference, and usually needs no explanation. In the unlikely event that someone questions it or makes non-remote suggestions, you can say “I really need a fully remote role because of my personal circumstances.”

      In applications, the way most companies seem to be going, you need to apply to roles advertised as fully remote and verify that is true at every stage of the process, because there’s a lot of bait and switch out there.

      If a role is not already designed to be fully remote, you would need to disclose that you need an accommodation in order to see if they can meet it. If you are unwilling to disclose that, stick to positions already designated as remote.

      1. Lavender Latte*

        If the role is designed to be in-person but is currently hybrid, is it worthwhile to apply and negotiate for fully remote after receiving an offer as an accommodation, or is it just not worthwhile…?

        1. Grits McGee*

          There have been comments from hiring managers recently expressing frustration about candidates doing this, so it doesn’t sound ideal. You’d be within your legal rights to ask for 100% remotes as an ADA accommodation, but a company/employment lawyers may decide that 100% remote work is not a reasonable accommodation.

          Honestly, I think you would be better off mentioning in your cover letter that you are only interested in 100% WFH, and asking if the company would be willing to consider that for the right candidate (ie, you). Otherwise, I think you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time and effort on jobs that aren’t going to meet your needs.

          1. Lavender Latte*

            Thanks for this perspective. That’s what I was thinking, that while technically legal, perhaps not the ideal scenario.

    6. thelettermegan*

      There’s lots of people who strongly prefer remote work, and companies that have embraced the concept. I think one could discuss remote work as a dealbreaker at this point without mentioning a need for accommodation.

      Any reasonable workplace should understand ‘ongoing concern regarding Covid’ as a valid reason for going remote without having to get the ADA involved.

      If the remote work policy isn’t specified in the job listing, you can ask about it in the screening. Saying something like “Ongoing covid concerns mean that I’d only feel comfortable coming in once a month/quarter/year/never ever ever” should really be enough for them to know.

    7. not a doctor*

      The “I was ill then but recovered” language is specifically to address employment gap issues, so if you don’t have a gap, don’t worry about that part! If the job isn’t listed as fully remote (and many still are), some questions you could ask in the interview stage include:

      “How much flexibility is there for remote work in this position/at this company?”

      “How has the company responded to COVID? What safeguards are in place now?”

      “DEI is important to me, especially for people with disabilities. What is the company’s approach to DEI? How have you worked with employees with disabilities?”

      “What is the work/life balance like in this position/at this company?” (doesn’t directly address your issues, but a place with a strong work/life balance is more likely to be a good fit for your needs)

      Once you get to the offer stage, you can absolutely ask for WFH as an accommodation if it’s not already part of the offer (and if the work can be done remotely). But you can also ask these and other gently probing questions during the interview to get a feel for how receptive the company is overall and how well you’ll be treated as a prospective remote employee, without having to disclose anything. I’ve been at my company for over a year and am still fully remote without having formally disclosed anything because they’re incredibly flexible and have a strong commitment to both DEI and work/life balance.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Say your health conditions are well-managed, rather than that you’ve recovered. “I have an ongoing health condition that is under control and shouldn’t cause any issues, but it does mean I need to work remotely on a permanent basis.”

      1. Cordelia*

        I don’t think there’s any need for you to discuss your health conditions at all, unless you are explaining gaps in your work history. You can just specify that you are looking for fully remote work, no need to say why. But have this discussion early in the recruitment process, don’t leave it till the offer stage or you might be wasting both your time and that of the hiring manager, it won’t leave a good impression (speaking as a hiring manager…)

    9. Might be of interest*

      Hi Lavender Latte, I asked a somewhat related question in last week’s Friday Open Thread- you might be interested to have a look at the answers. My question is the 1st ‘comment’. I had asked about front end development and copywriting as remote careers for disabled people. I’m not sure if either would be low key / low stress, but still the answers might be interesting for you. One person recommended Indexing as a potential job – if you can’t find their comment you could google it perhaps. Good luck.

    10. Jones*

      Since you’re just finishing your degree, and it sounds like don’t have a lot of relevant experience in this field (disregard this if that’s wrong): I think your best bet would be to follow the advice below about finding companies that are fully remote, rather than convincing them you can work remotely. Because entry level positions often don’t come with a lot of social capital and there’s much less reason to take a ‘chance’ on you than to just hire the next person in line who can come in on a hybrid schedule. What field are you in? Some fields are much more remote-friendly than others and maybe we can offer more specific advice if we know what field you are in roughly.

  6. Soon-to-be new grad*

    Does anyone have advice for an extremely anxious soon-to-be new grad? My partner just graduated and we moved to a new city (which I’ll call City A) for his new job and my summer internship, but I’ll be heading back to school in the fall and will graduate next May. And I’m terrified. I have no idea if I’ll be doing another year of long-distance after that or if I’ll look for jobs in City A (which only has ~250k people) — but one of the largest cities in the U.S. is just 2.5 hours away; maybe I could find a job there and see him on weekends? I know it’s probably irrational, but I’m worried that I need to get a great job in my dream industry right out of college or my career will forever be off track. But I also want to avoid a long-distance relationship if possible, so I’m struggling between my desire for that and my career-related ambitions. Add all that to the fact that I will most likely graduate in a recession, and I’m really worried about my future (+ a bunch of angst about recent and upcoming laws/politics)

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, if I may, I think you need to separate your anxiety about the relationship from your anxiety about the job hunt. It feels like in your letter you’re combining these things. Until you have a job offer, choices about where to live, hoe to manage your relationship, etc. are kinda irrelevant. I know it’s hard to let them go- I was a stressed new grad once too!- but you have to. Without knowing your field, I have no way to know what advice to give you re: job hunt, but I’ll tell you something that sometimes helps me- make a plan for the if the worst happens. What will you do if you can’t find a job in your field right out of school? What are your options? For me, that meant staying in school and arranging to have my boss allow me to stay as her GA for another year and get a second degree. For other people, that might mean moving back home. Knowing what your options are reduces the fear, because it reduces the unknown.

    2. BubbleTea*

      You don’t have to get a great job immediately or fail. Your career will be decades long, there’s room to restart and grow and shift tracks.

      It took me five years between graduating and really starting a career nut looking back, the multiple false starts and filler jobs led me to the excellent fit I now have. It’s not linear.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. I graduated into the beginning of the Great Recession with a journalism degree and the desire to get into Corporate Communications (because I knew before I even finished my degree that working in a news room in some small, out of the way town for peanuts – which is common for entry level reporters – was not for me and the kind of student loan debt I’d be responsible for paying off) – there were no jobs in my area for entry-level comms people. I had no choice but to pivot into something else after being unemployed for 11 months.

        12 years later, I ended up in Corporate Comms anyway after over a decade of bouncing around different industries and job functions. Nine months into my first comms role, I was promoted up to where I should have been had I been working in this field all along for the past 13 years. If you’re meant to be in your field, you’ll figure out a way eventually.

    3. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

      BT on all counts, more than once.

      Therapy can help. Not sure what benefits you get thru your internship, or if your parent/s’ health insurance covers it (I’m assuming you’re 26 or under, hence covered by parent/guardian insurance); your school probably offers counseling (individual, group, support groups…).

      First, do what you can. Make a list of all the things you CAN do (now, in the future) to help yourself get a job (any job), a job in your preferred industry, a good job in your preferred industry. If there are actions you can take, make a timeline of when you will do what. Put it on a calendar and get to work doing those things.

      Second, speculate/brainstorm solutions. What if I don’t get a dream job (define that, btw)? What if I have to start in a different industry? What if I end up with a crap job (define that)? What if partner and I have jobs 3 hours apart? etc etc. Write it all out, even what seem like ridiculous solutions.

      What do you imagine to be the very worst thing that could happen? Can you prepare for that now? can you get resources in line? And btw, what you imagine to be the very worst probably isn’t –speaking as someone whose marriage just about crashed, who ended up in the hospital and thought they were going to be using a walker for the rest of their life, whose spouse completely broke down during the pandemic and is still not 100% and able to reliably work, and whose child had a life-threatening illness that required years of treatment and will never go away (that’s the very very worst, let me tell you). So, not being able to work in the industry I trained for and had a passion for, having to step off the ladder (to deal w child’s illness) — those are still disappointments for me, but I’m at peace with them. Work is…work. Everything else is way more important.

      Third, what are your resources? financial, educational, health, personal, professional? who’s in your network? If things go south, who/what can you rely on?

      And then work to come to some sort of peace with the fact that you cannot control any of this. You can help yourself make some outcomes more likely, but you cannot be 100% sure.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      My advice for you is, first and foremost, try to enjoy this summer in City A. You’re living with your partner and working an internship in your field–both good things!

      As BubbleTea says, you don’t need a great job in your dream industry fresh out of college in order to succeed in your career. A lot of people end up in jobs that aren’t the right fit for them out of college, and those jobs can teach you what you want in your career and what you want to avoid in your career (both important things to know!).

      When you start applying for full-time jobs, I recommend applying to jobs both in City A and in the large city 2.5 hrs away. Applying to a job doesn’t obligate you to accept it, so you have the whole interview process to pay attention to the standard job things (like the work, like the potential coworkers and office culture, etc.) and personal life things (excited to move to City A/City B? 2.5 hrs from partner feels manageable or overwhelming? etc.).

      Also, there’s a lot of talk in the air of an impending recession. A recession seems likely but it’s by no means certain. And even if there is a recession, (1) not all fields will be impacted evenly and (2) companies still hire workers. A recession will not doom your career prospects forever.

      Best of luck with your future job hunt, and remember to enjoy this summer!

      1. Soon-to-be new grad*

        Thank you so much! This response is really helpful (all of them are, but this particularly helped me).

    5. OTGW*

      I graduated December 2020. I still don’t have what I thought—what is, really—my dream job. I don’t even have a full time job yet. While I’m working hard at getting a FT job, I’m coming to grips that I might not ever get my dream job. Not because I don’t want it, but it’s an extremely competitive field that requires a MA and pays shit. I also didn’t/don’t want to give up my relationship with my husband.

      My then-bf and I wanted to live together, we wanted time to relax and do things that aren’t school/work related. If I had chosen career things, idk what would have happened, but everyday I’m thankful I did what I did. We have a condo together, we married. I’m so happy.

      Your situation isn’t the exact same, but I want you to understand that it’s going to be fine either way. Talk to your boyfriend—what is it that you both want? Why can’t you take another job in city A for a few years before you both decide to move to city B and you get your dream job? Why can’t he follow you to city B after getting experience at this job? Why is your dream job your dream job? Talk to each other about this.

      No matter what happens, it’s going to work out. I’ll tell you that while I wish I could have the best of both worlds, I’m glad I chose my husband. And I’m not saying that it’s either-or for you!!!! I just really want to stress that a) not everything happens as we envision it and b) you’re going to be fine!! seriously!! It is a scary thing, getting out of school, but everyone has done it and everyone has had to make choices about one thing or another and we all make it out okay.

    6. All Het Up About It*

      Your first job after college does not automatically set back or assure your career path. Unexpected things will happen in your life five, ten, 30 years down the road that could have even more impact. My career path looks incredibly different than I EVER imagined. But even friends I graduated with who took more traditional and prestigious positions when we graduated have career paths different than they expected.

      I get feeling anxious, I do! But the number one thing you can do to combat it is just try to not “know the future.” That’s what you are trying to do. You are trying to know your future relationship status, feelings and structure. To know your feelings about a job in your field and if you’ll love it and stay in that field forever and always until you retire. To even know if you will graduate in a recession and exactly how long it will last and what impact it will have on your exact field.

      Your choices can only be made on what you know, so try and focus on those things. Like someone said above, enjoy the summer and living in City A and then enjoy your senior year! Visit City B sometime to see if you like it and then apply to jobs that sound interesting, no matter where they are. For instance you could end up at a Job in City C across the country, and your boyfriend could find a new job there, or get permission to switch to Remote full time and come with you there. Focus on what you can control and not so much on the what if’s, because I promise you there are more variables than you can even consider and trying to consider them all is just going to drive you mad.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “I have no idea if I’ll be doing another year of long-distance after that or if I’ll look for jobs in City A (which only has ~250k people) — but one of the largest cities in the U.S. is just 2.5 hours away; maybe I could find a job there and see him on weekends?”

      Are there jobs available in your field in City A?

      “I know it’s probably irrational, but I’m worried that I need to get a great job in my dream industry right out of college or my career will forever be off track.”

      This one I’d resolve right now. I would tell myself that I won’t get a great job off the bat BUT I will work hard to make sure my career stays on track and I continue to grow and develop. To me getting a plan for if things derail is the rebuttal to this type of worry. And it’s really important to promise ourselves to “do right” by us.

      “But I also want to avoid a long-distance relationship if possible, so I’m struggling between my desire for that and my career-related ambitions.”

      I was widowed just before my 46th birthday. I am biased. Get yourself established so that you KNOW you can take care of you. There is NO replacement for this. And as a bonus, when two partners are fairly self-supporting, it takes a lot of strain off a LTR as the years go by.

      “Add all that to the fact that I will most likely graduate in a recession, and I’m really worried about my future (+ a bunch of angst about recent and upcoming laws/politics).”

      At least you are not alone on this one you have the company of millions of other people. You can take some precautions now and you can look for ways to fortify yourself and you as a couple should everything go upside down. This can mean live modestly, put money away, or whatever it means to you. My aunt said to me, “If you get granted a glimpse of what the future holds, then you ALSO have been granted time to prepare. So what are your fallbacks, options, etc if things get bumpy?

      You did not ask, but because I know first hand all this worry can really tear up our insides, make sure you are doing good self-care. Hydrate, eat raw veggies, rest and if you have time take walks on a regular basis. I know this stuff sounds too simplistic to be meaningful. But just as a car won’t run with out fuel, our bodies and minds need fueling up also. Put good things into you every day, it matters.

    8. I've Been There*

      I was exactly in your shoes many years ago. My partner graduated a year before me; he moved to City A for his career; we were long-distance my senior year; then I followed him to City A (even though it didn’t mesh with my career goals); then I moved about 2.5 hours away to a city where I could start on my goals and we were a “weekend couple.” (And more permutations after that trying to figure out the right fit…)

      The advice to plan and game out the options, in detail, is very good. I did not do that. I just Pollyanna’d my way through it. (“It’ll be fine! We’re in love!”) I was miserable, which led to change after change trying to blindly “solve” whatever was missing. So, I would add: think hard about what is most important to YOU. For instance, are you interested in a career that really defines you? Are you really excited to pursue that now – delaying the pursuit would feel disappointing? Or are you willing to have “just a job” for a while, because the relationship is more important to you? I think if I’d been honest with myself, I would have realized I’m very Type-A career-driven, and feeling “stuck” and not pursuing my ambitions was really hard for me. And feeling like I’d put traditional gender roles (I’m a woman, my partner was a man) at the center of my priorities was actively demoralizing – it countered everything I wanted for my grown-up self. But each person is different.

      That’s what you need to think through hard right now. Be self-centered; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. (I’m guessing your partner is doing that. Did he consult or factor in your career goals before making his City A decision? Is he offering to consider moving for your career to spare a LDR?)

      The senior year long distance thing is actually good for you. I mean, it will suck. BUT, it will be a learning experience. 1) How survivable is LDR for you? What about it do you not like? (This part is important. There are very different reasons to dislike LDRs – and they are telling about you and possibly about your relationship.) 2) Time to reflect on those career ambitions and game out the options. All of this is to say: You don’t have to decide right now!

      And most importantly: Whatever you decide, you can change your mind once you’re in it, if it’s not working. City, job, relationship, housing, whatever. Be really self-reflective throughout about how things are going for you and what’s driving that feeling (good or bad).

      So, Aunt I’ve-Been-There says: you’re young, now is not the time to feel obligated to give up what you want for a relationship. (That time may come, but it’s not now.) So, think about yourself. If the relationship has legs, you will mutually find a solution that balances competing priorities. I wish you great luck.

      1. Soon-to-be new grad*

        Thanks so much for your response! All of these similarities, right down to the stuff about Type A and traditional gender roles, are uncanny, and it’s great to hear from someone in the same situation. I hope things worked out for you in the end :)

        All of these responses have shown me that I don’t need to decide anything right now (nor, frankly, do I have the information I need to do so) – and that my career won’t depend 100% on the step I take after graduation. I’ve also made it clear to my partner that if I moved to city A then, I wouldn’t want to live here more than 1-2 years, and he’s 100% willing to move to whatever city I want to next, he’s just not sure if that’ll be in 2023 or 2025 or sometime in between. He hasn’t even finished training yet and might have to pay back close to $10k from relocation money/signing bonuses if he leaves before a certain period of time, so I guess it’s not fair to push him to make a decision yet, just like I’m not going to make a decision yet. In the meantime, I’ll try my best to relax and enjoy the next year! Thank you again for responding.

        1. I've Been There*

          That all sounds really wonderful. Especially that you’re already having the conversation with him! (Hoo boy, I avoided that, and it was dumb. In retrospect, I was bad at relationships.) You are clearly much wiser than I was at your age. :)

          And in the very long-game, things absolutely worked out. It took a lot of time, but we realized we weren’t right for each other (regardless of geography), moved on — and promptly each ended up with our current spouses. Maybe we needed all that time to end up in the right place.

          You live, you learn, you focus on making the next right decision, you move forward. You’re going to do great, I can tell!

      2. Soon-to-be new grad*

        Thank you so much for your response! The similarities are uncanny – right down to the stuff about Type A and traditional gender roles, so it’s great to hear from someone in the same situation.

        All of these responses have shown me that I don’t need to make a decision yet (nor do I even have the information I need to do so at this time), and that my career won’t depend 100% on my first job. I’ve also made it clear to my partner that if I moved to city A, I wouldn’t want to do so for more than 1-2 years after graduation, and he’s 100% willing to move to any city I choose when he does leave his job — he’s just not sure if he should do so in 2023 or 2025 or sometime in between. And since he hasn’t even finished training yet and might have to pay back close to $10k when he leaves, it’s really not fair to push him to make a decision right now, just like it’s not fair to push me to make a decision right now. I’m going to focus on enjoying the next year instead! Thanks again for your response — it’s really helpful to write about my thoughts like this.

        1. Soon-to-be new grad*

          …and I’m annoyed I typed all that out again when I should have just waited a few minutes to let my previous response go through. On a happier note, I’m impatient because it’s a Friday afternoon and it’s time for the weekend :)

    9. JSPA*

      “I didn’t start my career because I was doing something deeply worthwhile to me” will feel better than, “I didn’t start my career nor do something deeply worthwhile to me because I was busy stewing.”

      Growing up, it’s an anxious moment when you realize you’ll never again be able to keep all your options open. But that normal! You pick a somewhat reasonable- to- you course at every branch point, and you have a fair chance at ending up living a life that fits you reasonably well. That’s it! No secret sauce, no cheat codes, no playing for a predetermined, designed high score.

    10. amoeba*

      I’m also wondering (I think it hasn’t come up yet?) whether hybrid/remote work would be an option for either you or your partner? If one or both of you can work from home for some of the time, you could have a place together in one of the cities plus a small room/apartment in the other and only go there for the two or three days you’re actually in the office. (I’m assuming fully remote is not an option as you haven’t mentioned it, although if you don’t hate the idea, it could also be something to look into?)

  7. Telev*

    I’m interviewing with a new organization for a role that is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. All things look good, except for the fact that I know this organization sometimes suffers from budget cuts due to getting its funding from the city. What’s the most tactful way to bring up the budget and its stability in an interview?

    In this case, it’s a city-run library but the question could probably be asked in other situations as well.

    1. Batch Checker*

      I’ve been in non-profit/public sector for 20 years – here’s my advice: Look at their 990 or if they have an annual report online, and determine how much money they receive from the city. City funding is more predictable than we think, but it also has the hazard of being cut at a later date. When the city cuts does that mean the org budget fails, too? A City run library probably has a very low profit generating activities, if any (assuming they do fines and/or rent spaces, etc). Some libraries have foundation funding, they also apply for grants and they might also accept donations from other entities (people, businesses, etc)

      I’d like to understand the stability of the budget.

      (Because you’ve looked at the 990) I know that X% of your budget is through city funding (this shows you did your homework!)

      When the city cuts their funding to the organization, how does the organization respond? (Here they should explain that they 1) freak out 2) carry on or 3) meet to discuss the loss and any org changes)

      How often does the city cut its funding during a given fiscal year?

      How does this department fair if cuts are made due to loss of city funds? How has this position been affected?

      You should always ask if the position is grant, city or org funded, too

    2. Purple Cat*

      Flat out ask.
      If you’re interviewing for a role where you wouldn’t reasonably be expected to be financially-savvy, just say “I am concerned about stability, given x,y, z. How does the org prepare itself for that?”
      If you can/should be able to dive into the financial statements, and have some more details behind “x, y, z” to show you’ve “done some homework”.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yup. If you want to be “softer” or non-confrontational about it, that’s in the tone of voice and body language. But you can’t pussyfoot around and be vague.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Personally, I like to soften my language on these issues, because I’ve been told I’m too blunt in interviews. So here’s some of the phrasing I’ve used-
      “What challenges is the library currently facing and how are you thinking about addressing those challenges?
      “Looking towards the future, what can you tell me about the stability of this position?”
      “Do you mind me asking how the position is funded?”
      “Since the library is part of the city services, I’d like to understand how that structure works.”

      Some things you don’t need to ask, but can notice- how long have people been there? Is everyone you meet “a new hire”, what does that mean? If there is a union, is there also a first in, first out set up?

    4. Paris Geller*

      Definitely look at the past annual budget and see if the library is getting cuts or additional services funded.
      I will say that I am a librarian who worked in a library where cuts were constantly on the table for three years, and it was so stressful and made it much harder to do my job. If you’re getting a gut feeling, please listen to it.

  8. EngGirl*

    Can you be burnt out when you’re only (for the most part) working your normal 40 hour week? I am scheduled for 40 hours a week, salaried exempt, and my job offers little to no flexibility. Essentially I’m always allowed/encouraged to work more than 40, but If I need to take an hour or two every now and then, or need to work from home for half a day, that’s not allowed without jumping through a lot of hoops. Because of this way of thinking I set boundaries pretty early on. I’ll always help out in an emergency or if we’re in an all hands on deck situation, but I’m not really willing to put in unpaid OT because we’re constantly understaffed or because someone else planned poorly and is behind and wants to keep to a schedule I advised was too aggressive at the start. So I’ve been pretty good about keeping myself to my scheduled time.

    However despite this Im feeling really burnt out, exhausted, and apathetic about work. Like I no longer have any drive which is not how I usually am as a person. I tried to talk to my boss about it and he attempted to see what tasks could be removed from my workload, but this isn’t a “overload of tasks” situation. Don’t get me wrong I’m definitely overloaded, but I can typically handle it, and there isn’t really anyone else to pass it off to, especially when others haven’t set boundaries. I don’t feel right saying “I’m burnt out and can’t do task XY or Z, please assign it to someone else who is putting in 50 hours. I will be continuing to leave at 5.” My bigger issue I think at this point is cultural with the company. The lack of flexibility and empathy from the C-suite is really starting to wear on me, along with the constant demands to just make things happen followed by meetings where we just play blame games when the impossible ask didn’t happen.

    1. WiscoKate*

      I think there are a lot of things that contribute to burn out, not just the amount of hours you put in. Workload, culture, lack of flexibility, etc, can all be factors. Don’t feel like you don’t have a good reason to feel burned out – it sounds like this isn’t a good fit for you which can be emotionally draining.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t think being burned out has anything to do with how many hours you work. If you are burned out, you’re burned out and you certainly sound burned out. It maybe time to job hunt. Can you schedule a few weeks off to clear your head?

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Nod. You can be burnt out no matter how many hours you put in. I think it’s about whether work overspills your capacity. ( all work burns me out because I have so little capacity)

    4. EMP*

      This sounds 100% possible and the culture of the company can definitely contribute to burn out even if your hours are “normal”. If you can scrape up the energy to job search, just knowing you have other options can be a comfort.

    5. Medical Librarian*

      Forty hours a week is actually a significant portion of our lives. And I know my job impacts my off-hours, as well, because there’s only so far you can go with leaving work at work when you’re stressed. I wish you well

    6. Savvy*

      As others have said, burnout is much more than just working too much. Some work and/or workplaces can just be emotionally /physically draining, even if the amount of work you have to do is easily completed in your scheduled hours. If it was a “too much work” or being drained by a specific task, I think you could possibly request a change from your boss, but it sounds like a culture issue, which will not change. Sounds like it’s time to job hunt at a place that treats people like responsible adults who can handle flexibility.

    7. Alex*

      Like others have said, there are multiple causes of burnout, many of which have little to do with how many hours you’re actually putting in. It can have to do with how you feel your work is valued/what impact you’re having, or whether you feel like the place is a good ‘fit’ for your working style/it’s a culture mismatch (which seems to be the case here). Which means addressing the burnout requires thinking about what exactly is making you feel that way and the ways in which you might deal with that (which might mean leaving the job, spending more time on things outside of work, etc.)

    8. Anon for now*

      Absolutely, you can be burned out working 40 hours per week. All kinds of environmental factors can lead to burnout. Definitely this can: The lack of flexibility and empathy from the C-suite is really starting to wear on me, along with the constant demands to just make things happen followed by meetings where we just play blame games when the impossible ask didn’t happen.

      I suggest looking for a new job and starting therapy to develop coping mechanisms for while you are at your current job. The thing I have learned is that you can’t “self care” your way out of burn out. Though self care is a bit part of coping with burn out, it cannot solve it because it’s not a YOU problem that you can fix, it’s the environment you’re in. If the environmental factors that lead to burn out don’t change, you won’t really recover.

      I’ve been burned out for about a year and in therapy for the past 5 months (wished I’d done it sooner). My goal is to leave my job and I have been working toward that this year. It’s been slow going, but therapy has been immensely helpful. I’m not crying at my desk every week now!

      1. EngGirl*

        Is it weird that I miss therapy? I went for a few years when I was younger to deal with a specific issue, but my therapist retired and then I moved. I tried to find someone near me a few years ago but there are limited options in my area and I only found one person with availability and we didn’t mesh well.

        1. Anon for now*

          It’s not weird, especially if you benefitted from it! It would be worth looking again since there are now so many remote options so you may not be so limited geographically. My therapist is in a different city than me and we only meet remotely.

        2. Mockingjay*

          You might be able to find someone out of the area via telehealth. Therapists went online during COVID and quite a few seem to be staying that way.

          Finding a remote therapist is something an EAP often can help with, if your company has one. Or contact your medical insurer directly – most have telehealth resources.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Sure. The mental load of the work and the environment makes a huge difference. As does your personal stamina.

      Sometimes just 2 hours of dealing with a client will leave me fried to a crisp for the rest of the day, if it’s a particularly challenging/ intense situation.

    10. Nesprin*

      For me, burnout is less related with absolute workload and more related with lack of recognition, a culture of unfairness, lack of backup and ability to delegate, inflexibility, whether I’m playing to my strengths or spending my time doing things that I don’t do well or enjoy. i.e. more ‘moral injury’ and less overload.

      Based on everything you’ve said, go find a different place to work.

      1. Pisces*

        I would add having to work with someone you like and respect, but with whom you’re not compatible for some reason.

        For instance, I diplomatically made it clear to PastBoss that unlike some of his previous admin assistants, I wasn’t also a pseudo-personal assistant.

    11. Girasol*

      I read an article once that differentiated burnout from overwork. It said that overwork is too much work, too many hours, can’t catch up. Burnout is where people try to do good work but can’t seem to succeed at it, whether that’s because of the nature of the work itself (for example, a hospice nurse’s patients never get better) or because of a toxic workplace where efforts are undermined, the boss is never satisfied, or projects on which people have done good work get canceled unfinished. By that definition you could be burned out in a part time job.

    12. Raboot*

      40 hours is an arbitrary number. There’s no reason why you’re only allowed to experience something when going over it. Comparing yourself to others’ work hours is also not required to be honest about your own needs. Obviously other people’s situation might affect what your company can reasonably DO about this but you shouldn’t judge yourself based on what others are doing.

    13. Princesa*

      I’m sorry that you’re burnt out. I worked 40 hours a week as well (in a hospital, so a high burn-out field) on second shift and it felt like it was destroying me despite taking advantage of my PTO and working zero overtime unless in an emergency and I wanted to help (which happened maybe 1-2 times per year). I finally got my manager to allow me to reduce my hours so that I can have some semblance of a work/life balance again. I’m not salary though, so this reply might not help, but I just want you to know that it’s possible to get burnt out on 40 hour per week work. You aren’t alone.

  9. Internet Outage lost my job interview*

    So there’s an internet outage in Canada……and I had a job interview this morning for a job abroad! I woke up and thought it was my modem….and then restarted that an waited. Finally, as the time of the MS Teams interview call approached, I emailed their admin asking if I could get a phone call line that sometimes is associated with an MS Teams Meeting. When I didn’t hear back, I emailed the hiring manager to let them know what was happening (and included a link to a news story on the outage). I asked if I could call in, or if we should reschedule.

    The interview time comes and goes and finally an hour after it was scheduled the hiring manager says they only were doing interviews today and wish me the best for future applications.

    So I lost on my interview opportunity! The hiring manager did include their cell phone number in the email signature…. should I have just called that? It was a panel interview so there would have been others too, that’s why I didn’t call their personal cellphone number.

    I know it’s affecting millions and there are real concerns due to the outage. But I just wanted to vent to you guys, especially after all the prep I did for the interview.

    Has anyone else been affected?

      1. Original Poster*

        Thank you! I’m making peace with this situation as clearly something bigger is at play with the outage.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sorry that happened to you!

      Yes, I would call if they’re not getting emails. Numbers in work signatures usually work numbers or at least expecting work calls on, just double check your time zones so not calling at 2am their time or something.

      In my own issues with power outages taking out the wifi I have had success in using data and hot spotting my phone to use as internet for my laptop to zoom. I think you can access teams meetings thru a weblink in a browser, it just won’t have full function.

      1. Maggie*

        You can and you can download the app on data too. Or use your phone hotspot for WiFi as you said. I feel awful OP wasn’t aware of these options!

        1. Original Poster*

          Hi Maggie …..maybe I should explain some background info on Canada and cell phone networks and plans.
          1. Cell phone plans here are EXPENSIVE and amongst the highest in the world. I have limited data on my plan already. So using that limited data to download MS Team app on to my phone and host a call for an hour wouldn’t be possible.
          2. My cell phone carrier in Canada doesn’t have the best service at times….so it’s quite possible that even with using data to host the call…..the quality could be choppy. That’s why I asked them for a teleconference line in my email. Calling in would be safer in terms of them hearing me clearly.
          3. My cell phone barely had any space as is and I doubt there would be room for the MS teams app on my phone.

          1. Meep*

            I am not trying to be rude, because you definitely need to weigh the cost-benefit of the situation – if it costs too much to use data for an hour for a job you are not at least somewhat sure you WILL get, I could see not wanting to waste the resources. However, from a recruiting standpoint, these are just excuses as to why you cannot solve a pretty straightforward problem. (I mean you did email them during this time!) So I can see why they decided to not extend the opportunity to reschedule.

            To show you what I mean let’s look at your points:
            1. MS Teams meetings have call-in numbers that are provided in the link and when you log on. You could’ve called in using your cell phone so data is not an issue.
            2. Again, you can call in via your cell phone so this is a non-issue.
            3. You cannot possibly temporarily remove an app or get rid of a couple of MB of files? MS Teams app is what? 4mb max?

            Again, sorry you missed the opportunity and I hope you find a better job, but politely, you got in your own way here.

            1. Lore*

              Whether Teams meetings have call in numbers by default is dependent on the license terms of the meeting organizer, as I learned to my chagrin after moving a bunch of recurring meetings from webex to Teams when my company made the switch. We have to request that the license terms be changed.

              1. Elli in Cali*

                I have experienced this as well. Someone cheaped out on work’s MS Teams license and we don’t have call-in numbers. This is a pain point, as a number of people in my department work in the field. Our wi-fi and data access are only as good as we can get in our fieldwork… sometimes, it’s just not possible to be onsite and take the meeting calls.

                We also have Cisco Webex with call-in numbers. The smart cookies on my team use Cisco by default.

                1. Gatomon*

                  Yes, we moved from Webex to Teams, but only some people got call in numbers for cost reasons. It’s very frustrating and the Outlook calendar invites aren’t super clear that there isn’t a call-in option, so sometimes you try to join and discover that whoops, you need a microphone.

                  Teams is a lot easier for spur-of-the-moment meetings, but not a great experience for formalized meetings, in my opinion. I wish we were still using Webex. Teams feels like a program that does a lot of things but nothing in particular very well.

            2. Original Poster*

              Hi ….in my original comment I do mention that the MS Team invite here did not have a call-in option. That’s why I emailed them twice to ask for that number and call in over my cell phone rather. The commenter below attests that too.

              And even if I did make space on my phone I definitely didn’t have enough data to host a call for an hour.

              This outage is a serious issue here in Canada unfortunately.

      2. Type Nerd*

        The outage is also effecting data and just regular phone service, my data barely useable but I can’t make phone calls at all so hot spotting isn’t really an option unfortunately. The only real option would be to find a cafe or something nearby with the other major internet provider.

    2. Alex*

      That really sucks big time, and is pretty disappointing that the company wouldn’t give you any grace when it was out of your control. But I doubt calling them directly would have had much of an effect–it seems like they were not willing to make any accommodations of any kind, and that was just how they were thinking about things.

    3. Super Duper Anon*

      I am sorry that happened to you. Yes my phone and internet is out, luckily we still have internet at the office so I can get work done. My poor husband has to wait outside our building today to intercept some deliveries as our buzzer does not work. And yes, I would have called the cell number to let them know the situation. They may have been able to put the phone on speaker and do the interview that way.

      1. Original Poster*

        Hmmmm….. honestly there was a presentation I’d have to present too which would’ve been very awkward to do that route ….and they might have not picked up my random international phone number.

        I’ll have to make peace with this weird situation.

    4. Lost academic*

      Agree with others that in this case using Teams on your mobile would have been the best backup. And yes, call any and all listed numbers.

      1. Original Poster*

        Unfortunately MS Teams on my phone and using data tethering was not an option.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Oh man, that’s terrible. I’m sorry this company was so inflexible. Consider that a strong data point for whether or not you’d actually want to work for them.
      In this scenario, I absolutely would have used any phone number that I had. Once you get one person, they can help you figure out logistics for connecting with the entire group – including giving you a different number for a conference phone if they were on-site together.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        I have to agree. I’ve done interview coordination for years and have never once had a role where they only were doing interviews on one specific day. I find it odd they were so dismissive, frankly. Definitely a strong data point to consider. I think you dodged a bullet. Internet outages happen.

    6. After 33 years ...*

      Yes, it extends across much of Canada. The office (where I am now) has “the other major provider”, so it’s not affected.

    7. Workerbee*

      If they were only doing interviews that day, how did THEY manage to do them with the internet outage (I am assuming it was that much of an outage)? For I doubt all the candidates would have called that cell phone number.

      Regardless, to my mind, it’s the responsibility of the hiring manager/panel to re-coordinate with the interviewee, not the other way around. Especially since you heard from the hiring manager afterward. Did that person call you?

      They sound disorganized.

      1. anonymous73*

        They say it was for a job abroad so the interviewers were not experiencing the same outage.

        1. Original Poster*

          You’re right…..they weren’t in the same country as me…..big time zone difference too.

    8. anonymous73*

      I’m sorry that happened, but it’s an asshole move by the company, so you could consider this a bullet dodged. If they’re unwilling to reschedule or help you connect because of things that are outside of your control, they’re being unreasonable. Life happens.

      I had a phone interview scheduled recently – they had given me 2 days/times. I chose the first option, and then they had to reschedule for option 2 because one of them was sick. But they changed the original time for option 2 so I missed the interview. I realized it when I joined at the original time and nobody showed up. So I emailed my contact, explained what happened and apologized and he set up a time later that day.

      1. Original Poster*

        Thanks! Honestly maybe I was just a filler application and they already had some else in mind.

    9. Kat Maps*

      So many of my friends and colleagues have been affected by this outage today, too. A lot of meetings have been cancelled or rescheduled… I’m so sorry you had this happen to you today. I wish you the best of luck with your job search going forward.

    10. Anon this time*

      I’m also in the same boat. Luckily, my internet connection is on different provider but when I emailed about changing a couple of phone interviews to a zoom or teams call (with optional camera) I was basically told “better luck next time”
      I am also waiting to hear about a possible job offer, as I made it to the final stages. References have let me know they were contacted. I hope to heck the selection committee takes the outage into account if they are trying to get a hold of me….
      (And for anyone who is wondering why I don’t just switch my phone to accept calls via the internet- that service isn’t available where I am)
      Hang in there OP. If the company won’t make accommodations for a National service disruption, they aren’t worth your time.

    11. Elli in Cali*

      What bad luck! Maybe the interview prep can be recycled into a future interview.

    1. StellaBella*

      15th anniversary?
      Agree tho.
      Happy anniversary Allison and thank you for all you do and have done!

      1. Lolli*

        Very Cool! I was promoted to manager in 2010 and was searching for manager training. That is when I found AAM and it has been the best training I could have hoped for.
        Congratulation Alison! AAM is Awesome!

    2. Purple Cat*

      Happy Anniversary AAM!
      It’s always wild to go back and see how few comments there used to be and how much the community has grown.

    3. Should have had a cake!*

      So thankful for this blog!

      Happy belated anniversary, Alison!! Hope you celebrated with sweet things!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Wow! Happy anniversary!! This is my top favorite blog of all time and I recommend it to everyone. You’re the best, Alison!

  10. DolphinGirl*

    Recently ( a week ago) had an interview with a hiring manager- skipped HR entirely as an ex coworker turned in my resume. Sent a thank you that night. When/if is it appropriate to reach out and ask where I stand/am I moving forward?

    1. Savvy*

      Did they tell you their recruitment timeline and when you should expect to hear something? If not, I would probably wait at least a week if not two. Sometimes recruitments take long time or the process is somehow delayed, so you can’t always expect a quick answer.

    2. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Do you have a concrete reason to need to know? If so, it’s fine to reach out – like “I just received another offer from company B, this role is still my first choice but I need to make a decision about the other role in the next 48 hours, can you let me know if I’m still in the running?” If I were the hiring manager and you were a strong candidate I’d 100% want to know if something impacted your timeline.

      If it’s more about wanting to know — assume you didn’t get the job and let it be a pleasant surprise if they let you know later. I get about 10 of these emails a week when I’m hiring and it’s like…I’ll let you know when I know, but I haven’t made up my mind yet and I don’t have capacity to respond with “~shrug~ I have no idea, my schedule is a disaster because of interviews and I haven’t even had 5 minutes to revisit the notes from our meeting yet.” Honestly a week is nothing; I often don’t know if I’m going to advance a candidate for 3-4 weeks even in the fastest-moving hiring processes. That’s extra-true if their normal process is “phone screen with HR” before the manager interview – they may have 20 other candidates still at the phone screen stage, and since you advanced faster they don’t have a good sense of the pool yet.

      1. DolphinGirl*

        Thank you! This is what I thought but getting so much advice from all over. :)

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

      I think you can ask now if they need you to officially fill out an application so that HR can get you in the system if you haven’t already. I don’t know about asking about moving forward yet; they are probably still interviewing others before they make any decisions.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Give them 2 months and then reach out. It took my last employer 3 months before they offered me the job.

    5. anonymous73*

      A week is nothing at all. Unless they gave you a specific time line (I always ask), assume they’re still interviewing and making a decision. I would suggest reaching out after another week and after that leave it alone.

  11. Full Moon On The Rise*

    Has anyone done career/life counseling before? Is it helpful? I feel like I’m stuck in my job and have no idea what I want to do, other than I want to make a change. I’m doing mental health counseling right now but they don’t have suggestions of career changes. Should I look into it?

    1. BubbleTea*

      I had some employment coaching through a mental health charity which really helped me figure out what I was looking for. Some will be better than others of course.

    2. Alex*

      I’ve called a career counselor a couple of times at my alma mater – once before deciding to attend grad school (they pretty much confirmed my decision to go that route) and once mid-career (less helpful, but I liked that I was able to talk it out, and it’s free).

      My therapist also had me take the Strong Interest Inventory test, which I ultimately didn’t find too helpful since the top suggestion was my current job.

    3. AnotherOne*

      I was getting ready to. (Talked to someone who had experience specifically with people looking to change careers.) Looking at different options cuz I just didn’t know how to take what I do and what I went to grad school for and turn it into a job that makes money I could actually live on.

      But someone here posted about a field (data privacy) I’d be interested in years ago- and it made me decide to have a go at it. I’d starting my certification class next week.

      For me, it’s what I was looking for- adjacent to what my degree is in, a field what is constantly evolving (my current job is in a great office but it’s boring- there isn’t really anything to learn).

      So we’ll see when the time comes, whether I can actually get a new job but the possibility is exciting.

      So I guess i’m of ‘think career counselling is potentially great’ club, but it’s also worth just keeping your eyes open. Cuz you never know.

    4. Rose*

      I called a career counselor from my alma mater. It’s free, and it was helpful just to talk it out. If that’s something that’s available to you, I think it’s worth trying. They also usually give you contact information for alums in other potential fields you might be interested in to get more info.

      My therapist had me take the Strong Interest Inventory test, so that might be helpful for you. My results were interesting and gave me a lot to think about, but I will say that the top suggestion I got was my current job.

    5. Anon for now*

      Yes, I have and it has been extremely helpful. I’m sure it varies depending on the quality of your coach and their program. It’s been eye opening for me, that’s for sure. I’m in a coaching program for people considering leaving a specific industry. Maybe look for something like that.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Your local career center may be able to help. In the US it’s free, and you can talk about career goals AND how to get there. Look for the Dept of Labor for your local office.

    7. calvin blick*

      I hired a career counselor and she helped me a lot more than I expected, honestly. The benefit to me was breaking down my core skills, which I wasn’t very good at explaining. She helped me get a ~15% raise during my annual review, and her advice helped me land a 25% raise the next year at a new job that is better aligned with my career path. I’m sure they aren’t for everyone, but it made a big difference for me.

    8. Siege*

      My partner worked with a group in Seattle called Ama La Vida. They seemed like a combination of career and life coaching and they really helped him identify what he wants to do next. I have used a career coach before but felt that it was pretty focused on stuff like interview skills and less on identifying what I wanted to do.

  12. EMP*

    I could use some advice on what to do when potentially interacting with co-workers in a mainstream but potentially NSFW context.

    There’s a younger coworker (Fergus) who I’ve been unofficially mentoring but not hanging out with in an out of work context. We have some overlapping interests so I recently told him about an upcoming event similar to an indie film festival that I’m going to. He said he told his wife about it and they might go too. it’s not anything totally work inappropriate, but there may be sexual content that I normally would never discuss around coworkers.

    Do you have any advice for what to do if I see him there? Just treat him as I would any adult friend? Say hi and keep it very neutral? I’m never sure what to do when I see people I know in one context in another context, and the potential NSFW context here is really throwing me for a loop.

    1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Indie films like porno indie films or indie films like the usual indie film–or any film–that might have a sex scene in it? If it’s specifically sexually focused, I understand why you’re nervous. But any R-rated film may have sexual content and it wouldn’t be weird to see a coworker at an R-rated film, right?

      Just don’t run up on them afterwards and gush about the sex scene. “How did you like the movie?” is the question, not “How did you like the sex scenes?”

      1. EMP*

        I’ve changed the details here just in case Fergus reads AMA (Fergus if you recognize this pretend you didn’t) but let’s say it’s somewhere in between – definitely not sex industry specific (or I wouldn’t have even brought it up to a colleague) but I know there will be sexual content.

        1. Maggie*

          Sexual content like an R rated movie or sexual context like what’s in the Brown Bunny? If it’s just R rated movie stuff I wouldn’t think twice about it. If it’s more than that just say hi and keep it brief “hi good to see you I’ve got to run to the restroom though have a good day!”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I wouldn’t worry about it – you won’t be hanging out with him at the festival, if you see each other, just wave and keep moving.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Say hello, introduce yourself to his wife, say “see you later” if you want to or “want to grab a drink” if you want to. Don’t ignore him if you see him, that would be so much more uncomfortable. Just treat him the way you would any other acquaintance. You can ask him on Monday if he enjoyed the event. It’s not inappropriate to have similar interests, even if those interests include some kind of sex. Think of it this way– Game of Thrones was a hot water cooler topic for several years. I am aware that my co-workers saw boobs. I don’t give it much thought.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Yes, say Hi and chat for a minute as you would with anyone, then move on.

      Assuming that the sexual content isn’t the main point (otherwise it would be wierd to invite a coworker) then discuss the main point. Talk about the artist/writer/musicians. Talk about the venue or the way the event was organized. Talk about traffic and parking. Normal stuff.

      The reason they call it “adult” content is that presumably adults aren’t going to fixate on it.

    5. BookMom*

      Years ago my whole work team went to a short film screening at an art museum for a film a colleague made in art school. Hers was great, lots of fun. The preceding film was sexually graphic with some ambiguity about whether the sex was consensual or actually assault. The person who invited us was mortified. However, we were all adults and just carried on like we had not shared this awkward moment. I do remember it to this day, though. But I’m probably more squeamish than the average person.

  13. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

    Do senior execs ever get put on PIPs?? Because I think my grandboss might be on a PIP.

    This is a new one on me, and I’m old.

    (Also, I hope it’s true. And I hope she’s headed out.)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Execs usually get golden parachutes – nice bonus package if they agree to retire/quit ASAP. More of a bribe to exit.

    2. Savvy*

      I suppose it’s possible she’s on a PIP. What have you seen that makes you think so?

      1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

        It would not be savvy to answer that.

    3. Do Ask, Do Tell*

      Yes. I was at a company where someone had inexplicably risen to the level of essentially a “junior-level” C-suite person who had “Chief” in his title. He had survived multiple rounds of layoffs, and would roll through the company like a katamari damacy, picking up oversight over certain sections and processes, creating a hybrid role for himself, and making himself seem more important than he actually was.

      The shoe finally dropped when he decided that he was going to start speaking at conferences without any notice or authorization and writing up big, impressive-sounding bios. Around the same time this was discovered, it was also noted that he attended multiple conferences a year on the company’s dime and did things like book his trips on the weekends so he could relax in fancy hotels overseas. Legal took a hard look at his responsibilities and made the case for putting him on a PIP, which included things like “You’re responsible for XYZ policies but you’ve had a manger-level employee doing the best they can while the Director position sits vacant, and you haven’t bothered to update these policies that the government would definitely be looking at if they audited us.”

      He also didn’t do things like updating the training he was responsible for, and once he huffed and puffed to legal about an outdated process. Legal checked our policies and procedures and then informed him that the person who was in fact responsible for said procedure was him. Instead of accepting a PIP he designed to quietly resign.

      1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

        Wow. Sounds like he was *pretending* to be an exec more than actually was one!

        1. Do Ask, Do Tell*

          The funny thing is that I genuinely think that *he* genuinely thought he was doing his job. He was a very jovial guy, never at his desk and was always walking around shaking hands, passing out company merch, talking to anyone who would listen. Even our C-level executives put their heads down and did a lot of reading and note-taking and writing, but this guy never took notes, never sent emails, never seemed to substantively do anything, and was constantly in the offices of the other C-levels just to talk. I honestly think that he was put on the PIP largely because they were sick of him wandering around with a seemingly-endless supply of free time. (Though the whole, unauthorized speaking for the company at conferences thing didn’t help).

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

      I’m not sure about an actual PIP similar to what a lower level person would be on. IME they are usually put on leave during an investigation, or asked to resign/retire quickly, because of the damage they are able to do at a high level.

      1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

        That’s almost always been my experience, too. But several different things lined up from enough directions to make me think, “Wait—is this what it looks like? Because it looks like a PIP!”

        Grr I will probably never know! (Still hoping exec is gone by Labor Day.)

    5. Girasol*

      I’ve never seen a senior person on a peon-style PIP, but they do get taken down. My old company would transfer them out of management to a Wonderful Opportunity as an Individual Contributor! (As in, “Congratulations to Mr. Jerkboss on his wonderful new opportunity!”) That’s a euphemism for a desk in a corner where ex-boss won’t bother anyone while using company computer/printer/phone/etc. to conduct a job search and quietly leave, avoiding an embarrassing firing.

  14. Sue in HR*

    For the life of me, I can’t find the original thread from a recent while back, or recall the name of the person who asked me to elaborate on my job situation. So I hope you find this!

    I think what I need is a job where everything is structured, and I’m left alone to do my work.

    I realized I’m a nervous wreck at my day job (front desk reception) not just because of anxiety disorders that are made worse by phone and in-person interactions, but because I never know what to expect and so can plan for exactly nothing. There are about 500 people working here, so. It’s always someone wanting something. I don’t think I’m cut out for large businesses. Please, universe, let me work somewhere quiet and not front desk, where I only have to remember the names and faces of a small handful of co-workers and don’t have to spend all day on the phone or dealing with visitors. In the space of five minutes (going by regular misadventures here), I might go into that five minutes with nothing on the table, only to find myself having to dig out filthy PPE for an unscheduled guest who needs to visit the factory floor, answering an employee’s question about something I don’t actually have any knowledge of on the front desk but which they should already know, telling another employee to wait for me to finish with the guest and other employee so I can answer their question about some piece of outgoing mail they have, then telling absolutely everyone to wait so I can answer the four phone lines that are ringing at the same time, all while the front doorbell bongs loudly, repeatedly, and annoyingly because someone forgot their keycard to get in yet again, oh, and also, the canteen vendor showed up at the same time and needs to get in too and give me paperwork to sign and also ask where the break rooms are located. All while I just want to step away from the f***ing desk and wash my hands after handling dirty rubber toe-caps. (And am going to have to clean off both the phone and the door buzzer phone after. I keep asking why the PPE has to be stored at my desk instead of in the side closet where people can sign out at leisure for what they need. I never get a satisfactory answer.)

    Outside of email and Teams, I deal with about 400 people per shift over the phone/in person, which I know ’cause we log everything. I work nine-hour days, five days a week, with no bathroom or food breaks, just the overtime pay for not getting any “freedom” away from the desk. This job is so awful for my mental health, not to mention my physical health. I can’t even go into details without having to attach a bunch of trigger warnings to this post.

    Second job is a fire-hazard patrol one evening a week at the factory. I love it. I think that’s because I pretty much have total freedom, yet also know exactly what to expect because the safety patrol has a rigid base structure: I have to do a patrol every hour, but I get to choose the path I take. It’s so quiet, and there’s no actual time limit other than “hourly patrol” so I get to decide the best use of my time, rather than having to exist on other’s people clocks. And I never have to answer a single f***ing phone! I feel like I have actual human dignity again: I get to go to the bathroom when I need to, eat and drink when I need to (real food! Not living off mixed nuts and dried fruits while the executives serve fancy catered lunches to VIP guests in the conference room fifteen feet away and I have to keep talking to people while eating my meager fare), and can go the entire nine hours without seeing or speaking to a single person. It’s the best kind of self-supervision, and I’m basically getting paid to exercise. It’s hot and uncomfortable work in the summer, but I’d take it over the front desk any day. Unfortunately, it’s a temp position that ends when the new alarm system goes into place in the fall.

    I wouldn’t have a great shift if I found an actual security threat, but the chances of that are low enough that I’m not spending every shift fretting over it like I do over the constant and daily unknowns at my regular job. And even if I found an emergency, I’m not expected to do more than GTFO and report to the security guards so they can handle it. I’m dreading the end of this–it’s been so long since I worked a job where I felt I actually fit. I wouldn’t want to be actual security. At the same time, it also makes it even harder to deal with my front desk job. Now that I’ve had a taste of a job where I feel like an actual person worthy of basic respect, going back to being everyone’s good little servant girl tying their shoelaces for them at the front desk is like swallowing boiling lava.

    1. Esmeralda*

      ARe you sure it is LEGAL to get no breaks? Sounds illegal to me. Even in states with crap worker protections (if you’re in the US)

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Check your local labor standards rules about breaks.

        Also, you need a better job. They aren’t going to make any changes for you at this Hellhole. There are plenty of other employers that will love to hire someone with your tenacity. You are amazing for putting up with this for as long as you have considering how poor a fit this is for you.

        1. Sue in HR*

          Thank you so much for saying this. Everyone else here seems to have accepted toxic workplaces as the norm, and more than one person has told me I’m just being weak or fragile or too delicate by wanting to get away from the desk to heat-and-eat some real food and empty my bladder. (I sneak away sometimes to get to the bathroom or pop in a very quick microwave meal, but I try not to make it a habit, since there are too many people at my desk at any given moment who could report I’m not there when they needed me.) Hearing that I’m NOT being unreasonable, the workplace is being unreasonable, does wonderful things to my self-esteem.

      2. Clefairy*

        I didn’t read her whole post, but there are def states that don’t have any laws surrounding breaks. I used to be a manager in Florida, and there are zero laws dictating breaks. Obviously my company still had break policies that we used to dictate this, but on a state level, I could in theory have my employees work 15 hour days without meal or rest breaks and be fine legally.

        1. Sue in HR*

          Yeah, we’re a state with no break requirements. Which really surprised me because I’d come to associate that kind of behavior with states still stuck in the 1950s, not this very modern place I’d moved to. It never even occurred to me that breaks would be a thing that weren’t required here until I took this job, and on my first day was told at training, “By the way, make sure you bring things you can eat at your desk and don’t drink too much water, because you’re going to be there nine hours every workday!”

          1. Sue in HR*

            (Virginia, by the way. Much of VA has *not* escaped the 1950s, but the part I live in loves to brag about how they’re riding the wave to the future and show off all their shiny technological advancements.)

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

      quote: I think what I need is a job where everything is structured, and I’m left alone to do my work.

      You could try something like data entry, or if you have/develop skills for it financial services like accounting/payroll. I’m not sure if you want something actually repetitive or just very easy to predict on a schedule that allows for breaks. The “left alone” to do your work is more about the management rather than the job; any job can have a micromanager who doesn’t leave you alone.

    3. Kittee*

      You are amazing for being able to handle all this.

      Based on what you said about the patrolling part of your job, you might like being a security guard at a company. The buildings I’ve worked at had security guards who checked people in and patrolled the building every few hours. They weren’t buildings where security was likely to be needed for — you know, emergencies — so very low stress and very few phone calls!

      1. Sue in HR*

        Thank you for all this! It really does help to know this isn’t normal what I’m dealing with, and it’s okay for me to want to be out of it (after “only” seven months that feel like an eternity), and to see suggestions of other options I may have!

    4. Jones*

      If you like receptionist type jobs, maybe look for a smaller company? Like, at the tutoring company I worked at, there was an office manager/front desk person, who greeted the parents and kids, made sure the office was stocked with supplies and food, but generally didn’t have to deal with any of the craziness you are talking about. If you like the interaction with people but don’t like having to split your focus so much, maybe you’d do better at a dentist checking people in, or somewhere else where it’s much more predictable. Some people thrive on what you described but a lot of people don’t! But if what you really like is the freedom of your night job, then data entry or bookkeeping or medical billing or something like that might be a better fit. Either way there’s nothing wrong with you and yes, you deserve to be treated like an actual person worthy of respect. Good for you for realizing it.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      FWIW, from what I can tell it looks like employers are required to let you use the washroom facilities in a reasonable fashion (OSHA regulations on health and safety grounds). So telling you not to pee for 9 hours sounds like it is in fact illegal. (Toilet access and access to potable water are pretty minimal requirements, but they are requirements).

  15. Saraquill*

    I was laid off in January. Despite several good years at the company, the last few months were full of active bullying, and a boss who let the bullying happen and withheld information pertinent to my work. As such, I hesitate to interact with him.

    I have investment benefits with the former company that I’d like to cash out. The investment company says they can only do so if they get permission from my former company’s bookkeeper or Old Boss. I sent an email to the bookkeeper earlier this week and have not yet heard back. Should I bite the bullet and call Old Boss, or try emailing him first?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I would wait another week, since a lot of folks have been taking vacations this week, so the bookkeeper may be out.

      Another way around is to set up an investment account elsewhere and have them request the funds, that might work as well.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When I did retirement planning with my new position, they helped me with the rollover of my 401(k)s. (I had 2, because my old company was lazy & disorganized.) We did a conference call with the original investment firm. I just needed to be there for approvals etc. Does your new company provide any similar financial planning?

    2. Purple Cat*

      Assuming you’re in the US, this is a big vacation week, so I would wait until Monday anyway.
      Is the bookkeeper’s boss an option instead of YOUR boss? Or are they one and the same?

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Is this a 401k? If so, and OldCompany is being unresponsive (or says no for some reason) roll it into and IRA, then you can do whatever with it.

      Now if this is some kind of stock option in the company, you’ll need to keep pushing OldJob. There might also be rules around how much and when you can take anything like ESOP out.

  16. Anonymousey*

    Manager lacks boundaries.

    My manager shares too much personal information (financial, personal, health). They also like to — gossip might be too strong a word, maybe overshare — details about other coworkers’ lives that I don’t want to know! So I’m guessing they share the little bit I’ve told them, as well. Not sure how to address it. Any ideas?

    1. Savvy*

      First things first, make sure you keep your private information that you don’t want shared to yourself. As for addressing when the manager brings up other people’s info, I would maybe try looking a little surprised/confused and say something like “That sounds really private. I’m not sure [coworker] would want that information being shared.”

      As for when boss overshares about themselves, I’ve found the best way is to just change the subject to a work topic – “Oh I’m glad you’re here, I wanted to ask you about/update you about X project”

    2. R*

      I have a similar boss – it’s not malicious or mean-spirited, but it seems like as we chat sometimes her “boss filter” slips and she says something that I shouldn’t know. So, I deal with it by trying to promptly forget whatever she overshares and by not telling her anything I would not want someone else to inadvertently learn from her. I’ll be interested to see what others say!

      1. Anonymousey*

        Right, I don’t think they’re malicious at all, I think they’ve been doing this for so long that it’s been accepted and no one pushes back.

    3. Zephy*

      Step one: tighten up your own boundaries and don’t tell this manager anything you’re not OK with them sharing with other people, because you are probably right about them airing all your business to other people just like they’re doing to you.

      Step two: disengage whenever possible, when they start telling you all about Fergus’s hernia surgery or whatever. You can try “I don’t want to hear/talk about this” or “That sounds like none of my business” or “That’s more about Fergus than I ever needed to know,” followed by a subject change.

      Step : decide whether you can continue to live and work with a boss who does this, and if so, for how long.

    4. anonymous73*

      First, stop sharing personal information with your boss immediately. Second, address it directly – don’t drop hints, say what you feel. Just because it’s your manager doesn’t mean you can’t be direct and set boundaries.
      “I’d prefer not to discuss that” then change the subject. For sharing co-workers business, “I’d prefer not to discuss Jane’s personal life since it’s not my business.”

      I had a manager like this once and when she first started someone on my team reported her to HR. She pulled me into her office one day and asked if I had been summoned to HR and if I thought she was inappropriate. I was surprised that she had done this and didn’t know what to say. To this day (it was 10 years ago) I regret not going to HR and telling them how she approached me because it was highly inappropriate and she went on to F up our team and department for another 2 years.

  17. Feeling Stuck*

    I am job searching and feeling very conflicted about my next steps. I have an almost offer from Job A. They really want me and have been very accommodating since I am still in the interview process for Job B. The hiring manager has said that I have an offer, but nothing in writing yet. I am like 90% excited for Job A-my only hold up is a few Saturday and evening programs, but they are scheduled far in advance and allow a flexible schedule.
    Job B has been terrible with communication but I finally got scheduled for the last interview for the end of next week. This job has frequent in state travel but less weekend work. I am nervous that Job A is going to move on (which they should if they need to!) and then Job B won’t work out which leaves me with no offers. Pay is the same range, benefits for Job A are good, not sure around Job B’s yet.
    Writing it all out makes me think that I should just go with the sure thing, but I keep second guessing myself. Has anyone been in a similar situation?

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      B might not make and offer and if they do, it might not be as good as A. Even if you knew B had better pay and benefits, none of that matters until you have a written offer.

      Take A if offered, but still do the interview for B. If B makes a good offer and you end up liking B more, you can back out of A if you wish.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Better the 1 bird in hand than the 2 in the bush? Do you like job B better than A? That’s the only reason I’d wait.

    3. anonymous73*

      Without considering pay and benefits, figure out which job appeals to you more. And make sure you’re not settling for one or the other simply because you want out of your current situation.

      If it’s Job B, is it worth losing out on Job A to see if Job B makes an offer? Is Job B really bad at communication, or is it just that they’re taking longer than you expect and it’s making you anxious because of Job A? If you’ve never been on the hiring side, it can take much longer than expected.

      If it’s Job A, why haven’t they sent you a written offer yet? Even knowing you’re interviewing with another company, it sounds a little shady to me that they haven’t sent you an official offer.

      Bottom line is that you’re the only one that can make this decision. Don’t jump at one job for fear of losing out on both if it’s not something that will make you happy.

    4. Siege*

      Yep. I had an offer from Job A that was pretty good (underpaid, but it was entry level) and I knew I was likely to get an offer from Job B but hadn’t been interviewed yet there. I did contact my contact at B and tell him I needed to do an interview THEN if he wanted to hire me. I had worked freelance for him for a couple of years, so I was more “in” than not, which isn’t the same as your situation. I was able to tell him I needed to let Job A know by the Monday, and we discussed my odds of getting hired at B. Because he could tell me that my odds were over 50% on getting an offer and I really didn’t want at that time to do part of the work in Job A (irony is that I now do exactly that work) I declined A. I didn’t have benefits information or pay info on B, so I declined it entirely on the basis of which job I wanted more. It wouldn’t have worked out well for me if B hadn’t made an offer, but they did and I worked there a couple of years. I think you should really consider how much you want A and make your decision accordingly. If the nights and weekends are a real problem, move on from them; if B’s poor communication is a red flag for how they operate, move on from them. I’d make it less about pay/benefits since you think they’ll be broadly comparable and more about which one you really want.

  18. BRR*

    My student intern asks too many (really great) questions.

    I have a (paid) student intern this summer who so far has been great. He is smart, hard working, and his work is decent. The issue that I’m running into is that he asks a lot of (smart) questions. I do expect a fair amount of questions from someone in his position as he has no background in our field, no prior office experience, and any new employee is going to have questions; but he asks far more questions than anybody I’ve ever worked with.

    This is a problem because training is starting to take up more time than I would like it to and I want him to transition to spending more time doing work being trained (I also need time to get my own work done). The thing is all of his questions are really really good/smart and relevant to the task I’m giving him. I would usually tell him to write them down and we can talk about them later but since they’re almost always connected to what he’s working on, I feel like it’s bad management/training to basically say “just do this work and I’m not going to tell you the context.” I also don’t think I can reply with “I want us to focus on X right now” because his question will be about X. And to make sure there’s no confusion, the questions are not about how to do the task; they are more like how does this task fit into the big picture.

    So how do I handle this? He does this with everyone so I’m pretty sure it’s not that my training is inadequate. I sometimes refer him to others who know more about a topic, but when he’s working on projects I assign him, I’m really the only person who can answer. (I am also just exhausted from having to answer so many questions. I feel like I’m being interrogated every day.)

    1. EMP*

      We have a similar intern at my job this summer so I’m mostly just here to offer sympathy! It does take up a lot of time and I don’t really have a good answer. If you can time bound “I only have 30 minutes to show you this so let’s just focus on the process and I can go over the reasoning behind it later”, as long as you actually do the follow up I think that’s OK. Time management is also something to learn at an internship.

      1. Gracely*

        Seconding this suggestion. Also, try to keep your answers as concise as possible–it can be tempting to try and explain *everything* thinking that this way you’ll answer all the questions, but sometimes more info is going to lead to more questions.

        And while good questions are fine, when you need to cut down on them b/c of time constraints, it’s okay to point that out.

        1. Squeakrad*

          A couple of things

          It might be helpful to look at the kinds of forms that other companies have online. For example, where I work, if you go to the HR page you can see what forms you can use there.

          It also depends on what your role is there. If you are an individual contributor and not in a management position, HR may be less likely to hear what you have to say. If that’s the case, is there someone you can approach wjo might help you get the buy-in that you need?

          My second point is a little more challenging. If you are thinking of the HR department as “the HR lady” it might be that you are not approaching them with the professionalism they would expect from a colleague.

    2. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      Oh, that’s a tough one.

      Just to make sure I’m reading right — it sounds like most of his questions are about the big picture, so they’re not vital to his understanding of how to actually do what he’s doing, right? You can’t really ever push back on people asking how to do their jobs, because if you refuse to answer they’re going to feel like they’re getting set up for failure.

      But if he’s asking more generally where the pieces fit into the grand scheme of things, I think it’s okay to say “That’s a great question, but it’s a bigger conversation than we’ve got time for right now. I can tell you [brief overview answer] but beyond that, let’s table the topic for another time.”

      Just because a question is good doesn’t mean it’s the right time for it. You do have work you need to get done, he has work he needs to get done, that’s how work is.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        +1 I like the wording Sir Ulrich offered. You don’t need to know the etymology of a word to spell it correctly in the report. There are many times in a work situation where you don’t know why X is done, you just have to get it done. I’m sorry, I just can’t think of a polite way to say “above my pay scale” today ;)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Schedule some time with him when it’s convenient for you. Maybe an hour once or twice a week (or 30 minutes). That way you have dedicated time to go over the big picture stuff. If his questions are technical, that’s a different story, but try setting aside time so you’re not rushed and he gets your full attention.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        + 1 That has worked for me with grads and undergrads. You don’t want to discourage them, but they (and you) do need to get stuff done.

        1. Squeakrad*

          I slightly disagree. We have a lot of interns where I work and I’ve been an intern myself in a couple of fields. Yes they need to do work but they also need to learn. It sounds like it’s someone who’s trying to maximize their time there by learning all they can about the field in the work they might be doing. If you can’t budget time to help them is there someone else who can? If they are good questions, I think shutting them down around asking is essentially treating them like an employee and not an intern.

          1. Esmeralda*

            They don’t have to be answered in the moment, however — saying, “great question, needs more time for an answer than we have today — let’s discuss at day/time” — that is not shutting them down. One of the things interns do need to learn is that everything does not happen immediately.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I’d consider being really transparent about it: Fergus, you ask great questions and being so curious about the context will set you up well in the future. However, I do have limited time for training so I will sometimes have to prioritize what we talk about to make sure we get the task done. That may mean I don’t always have time to answer every question or give you the big picture.

      Basically, give him permission to keep asking and yourself permission to sidestep.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes! Name the issue and ask him for help solving it. I like the time-boxed Q&A suggestion listed above – force him to prioritize which questions he cares about the most, and identify top questions *him* to independently investigate before next week. Perhaps ask him to identify other ways he could answer his questions – talk to his professors? Background research? In my office, interns get background reports and I ask them to write up summaries of their questions and the answers they’ve learned. Put the work on him, not you. He may be there to learn, but you have a job to do, and it’s not just to teach him. Plus, this behavior isn’t going to serve him in his first job – his boss will feel just like you do. It’s kind to help him understand.

    5. LordessOfLaMancha*

      I would say it’s time to start teaching him research skills. I’m sure there are plenty of questions that aren’t google-able, but I’m also willing to bet that he has plenty of questions he can do some independent research on. Give deadlines for specific tasks, but give him some time on his own to look into these things, and anything that’s particularly important you can have him summarize back later to make sure his research was good. It’ll take more of his time to do, but it’ll hopefully free up some of your time to get work done.
      If all his questions are really job-specific and require your knowledge, you should just limit the amount of time you can spend answering them, and explain that to him. Give yourself a fake meeting if you need to so things stay in the timebox.
      Of course, this is speaking from a software development background where the is an abundance of information available online for our technical skillsets and tools, so toss this if it isn’t relevant to you

    6. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      This is a great time to give them some insight into how to prioritize! Here’s what I’d do: Set aside an hour a week for your check-ins, and let them know roughly how to structure the agendas. That could look like:
      – send me updates in advance so we don’t need to spend time on them unless I have questions
      – 30 minutes are reserved for going over things you need my input on to move your current projects forward like [[examples of specific project-oriented questions]] but not like [[examples of more context-oriented questions that you can’t spend this much time on]]
      – 15 minutes are for updates or feedback from me; you don’t need to prep for this part.
      – That leaves 15 minutes to discuss anything else on your mind — that would be a great place for you to bring questions like [[context-oriented questions]].
      – Name the “why”, like: “I want to be transparent that we have to prioritize our management time on things that move the day-to-day work forward, so we can truly only spend 15 minutes on the bigger-picture stuff. I want to support your learning, and I’m having a hard time balancing that with other deadlines in my work right now.”

      Then hold them to it. If they raise a question that belongs in that last 15 minutes of your weekly check-in any other time, and it isn’t essential to the task at hand, say “That’s a great question! I’m happy to talk more about it if you think it rises to the top of context you need, but right now I need you to focus on [[task]] //right now I’m on a deadline and I have to get back to it. Can you save that for our weekly check-in?”

    7. Invisible today*

      If it’s a good intern, intelligent, highly motivated, perhaps they and you would be best served by giving him access to references /resources to learn himself. For example, pointing him towards journals, documentation, etc and setting aside an hour or two to discuss those bigger picture things with him.
      Or send him off with a pile of technical manuals.

    8. Move Slow and Fix Things*

      I’m a tiny bit like your intern, except I don’t ask THAT many questions and I recognise that I can’t always find out everything I want to find out. I need to contextualise things and benefit from understanding the foundations of whatever I’m doing. But I’m aware of other people’s time. Maybe because I’m older than intern age. I think the advise you’ve gotten here from others is very good – be totally upfront with him and he will surely get it.

    9. S*

      I love knowing the big picture and I’ve had people gently tell me to knock it off when I’ve been in training somewhere. It’s okay. Explain to him that they are really good questions and you’d love to be able to answer, but realistically you can’t. Some of it he’ll pick up on the way, and you can tell him that (basically tell him to have patience). And some of it he won’t—that’s also what being an intern means. Maybe you can schedule time in your 1on1s for those questions, or meetings with others when appropriate? Show him you’re not penalizing him and you want to help him learn what he’s interested in when you can, and then just gently hold the boundary. “Great question! We can talk about that at our next meeting!” “Great question! I think you’ll understand it much better after X has happened.” “Great question! Unfortunately we only have 45 mins left so we really need to focus on the deliverables.”

  19. Constance Lloyd*

    I’m looking for ergonomic wfh setup suggestions! My employer has provided a laptop and a monitor, plus keyboard and mouse. They used to provide two monitors, but now you have to request a second. Not only was my request denied, but I am also prohibited from using a monitor that was not issued by my employer, so I’m stuck. The height of this laptop is not spine friendly, and my ongoing tension headache recently boiled over into a migraine of sorts that had me in bed vomiting for 12 hours. There ergonomic options are almost overwhelming, does anybody have some favorite solutions?

    1. krrby*

      Do you have a way to set the laptop up on a pedestal of sorts to bring it level with your monitor? Assuming you don’t need the keyboard/trackpad functionality with the separate ones provides. I’ve used a similar setup in the past with success.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have my laptop on a stand, and have a connector hub that plugs into my laptop and holds the connectors for the monitor, and my wireless ergonomic mouse and keyboard. This is 1000 times easier and better than trying to type on a crappy laptop keyboard. You could also connect an ergonomic keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      If you don’t have one already, get a monitor riser and a laptop riser/stand ASAP. There are multiple (relatively inexpensive) options available online for both items and they will make a huge difference! As an added bonus, many monitor risers have storage space for desktop items. I’d recommend getting a metal monitor riser as those are generally more durable than the plastic or wooden ones.

    3. AnotherOne*

      At my parents place, I literally just put my laptop on a stack on books.

      Was it a little ridiculous? Yes. But it worked. (I did have to invest in a keyboard but definitely a small price for the comfort- and now I have the keyboard.)

      1. I-Away 8*

        This solution wouldn’t work for me. I only read long books, so my laptop would end up too high.

    4. Savvy*

      Did they say why your request for a second monitor was denied? If possible I would push back on that, explain how you can be much more efficient working from two monitors, and if you feel comfortable you could even share how your current monitor is giving you these headaches that make you sick.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        It’s government, so the answer was pretty firm and final, and I unfortunately lack the capital to push back in an agency of thousands. The laptop riser suggestions are helpful, I was thinking about a standing desk but those are expensive and still won’t bring the laptop level with the monitor!

        1. Prefer my pets*

          How sure are you they would *know* if you bought your own monitor? I’m a fed and we were told the same thing about not connecting personal equipment…but I’ve been quietly asking around and found over a dozen people in my office alone who bought their own, better-quality monitors for teleworking and none of them have gotten called out on it. The only person who was detected & notified of connecting unauthorized equipment was a guy who tried using his tv as a monitor…since the tv has network connection ability itself that flagged on automated system.

          No matter what your IT people tell you, they really can’t detect one Dell monitor from another.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Government laptops usually have software that can detect and flag unauthorized devices. It’s a huge no-no.

    5. Help!*

      Question about an ethical dilemma: I’m trying to get a permanent position at the govt agency I’m currently a contractor for. Positions are rare and highly competitive. I have a friend who also used to be a contractor, and had asked me many months back to tell her when a specific permanent position opened up. It’s currently open, but I don’t think she knows bc she doesn’t check the govt website regularly. The problem is, if she applies to this position, for many reasons, she’ll almost definitely get it and I won’t. Am I being horrible if I don’t tell her it’s open?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        I think you may lose the friendship/networking if you get the job and she finds out you knew it was open and agreed to tell her but didn’t. If you had a time machine you could simply not agree to tell her – “oh don’t make me responsible for that I’ll never remember”. Does it have a clear deadline? You could tell her with 24hrs or something short. But I think you do need to tell her.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You shouldn’t have to go this route, but — would they have any way of actually knowing you were using a monitor that they didn’t issue?

      1. anonymous73*

        That was my first thought. I’m on a govt contract and when I was told that in order to get a monitor I’d have to request it, wait a month, then drive back down to HQ (over 60 miles away and through DC), I bought my own. There’s no legit security issue I can think of that would prevent you from plugging in an HDMI cable to hook up a monitor.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I did it ages ago, because our IT department issued 19″ monitors for WFH and that was Not Sufficient :P

    7. not a doctor*

      This is a serious health issue at this point, so I’d ask again for a second monitor, alternative monitor, or egonomic setup, but this time as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Your doctor should be able to write you a note saying that you need this.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I use a thick book (dictionary or similiar) to elevate my laptop, and then my keyboard goes right in front of it and slightly below the laptop. This puts the laptop screen at a good angle and the laptop camera at a good height for video calls. I have an old-fashioned flip-top desk, and the monitor(s) go above the laptop, so there’s no overlap or gap between the screens.

      Side note – how are they going to prohibit you from using an external monitor you happen to have laying around?
      that’s a really weird thing to try to ban…

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t know, but it’s government and I’m still in my probation period so I’m waiting until that ends and I have full union protection before I try to push back or get away with anything! They just held a very strongly worded meeting about not connecting outside devices, so silly as they may be I think playing by the rules is my best bet for now. I’ll start with a stack of books and invest in a riser if that fixes the problem, thank you!

        1. Nynaeve*

          Don’t risk it, IT has ways to tell. I would never do it personally, but especially in a situation where you may be dealing with sensitive information, it can be grounds for termination.

    9. Dragonfly7*

      I already owned a cabinet storage shelf rack the same size as my laptop, so I just used that, but the metal stands look very useful and more durable.

  20. Emma*

    I hate my colleague Fergus! He is obnoxious and is trying to get a promotion but bossing me and my team around. He is one level under me, but will definitely get his promotion up to my level since he is our boss’ favorite and our boss will do anything to make Fergus happy.

    He rubs me the wrong way in all senses and I can’t even stand the sight of him at this point. I have told him to stop assigning tasks to my team, I have tried “I have this covered, you can focus on your own tasks”, I have tried being nice, I have tried being firm and nothing helps.

    What can I do? I just want him to back the hell off.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      Does your boss know this is happening? My inclination would be to go to your boss, lay out what’s happening, and doggedly pursue clarification: “Just so I understand correctly, my team is expected to take on any work anyone reaches out directly to ask us to do? We typically use X pathway with requests for our team, can you help me understand why we’re explicitly not using it in this scenario? How would you like us to loop you in on these requests so you’re aware of changes to our workload when it happens? Are there other exceptions we should know about? How would you like to weigh work requested by Fergus or other ms against our existing priorities?”

      But really at least some of your annoyance toward Fergus should be redirected to your boss, if they are allowing or encouraging this behavior once aware.

      1. Emma*

        Fergus does it behind my back. He goes to my team members (my direct reports) and asks them to review things for him, or prepare presentations, or draft reports. I have told them to push back when he asks but they say they feel bad and can’t say no.

        I have told Fergus to back off and leave them alone but he says he values their opinions and don’t need my permission. Now he just asks them behind my back and asks them not to tell me.

        Fergus doesn’t have direct reports of his own and tries to demonstrate leadership by bossing me and my team around. My boss knows and says that my direct reports should say no if they have too much to do, but also that “it’s important to be a team player” and “there is no harm in asking”. If it had been someone else our boss would have stopped this long ago, but Fergus can do what he pleases.

        1. CatCat*

          I have told them to push back when he asks but they say they feel bad and can’t say no

          Can you coach them on how to push back? They actually don’t have to give a hard “no” to do it, but rather that they will need to check with you first. Literally give them a script for something like, “Sure! But let me run that by Emma first!” Then you, rather than they, get back to Fergus with the NO.

          If your direct reports won’t follow your instructions AND your boss does not have your back, I am not sure there’s much else you can do. When Fergus gets promoted, he’s going to become even more insufferable.

        2. Policy Wonk*

          Tell your direct reports that they need your permission to say yes to Fergus. Ask that they e-mail you the details and ask for your OK before they do any work for him. And ding them if they accept work from him without doing this. They are enabling his behavior – and he is probably taking credit for their work, which is why the boss thinks so highly of Fergus.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            This. Don’t make it “it’s OK to say no,” but “it’s NOT OK to say yes without my permission.”

          2. My Useless 2 Cents*

            +1

            And I think Policy Wonk makes a good point, Make sure they know there will be consequences for them if they accept work from Fergus, especially if they do it behind your back.

        3. Been There*

          Tell your team that from now on any and all requests for work need to come through you – regardless of who they come from, the answer is “run it by Emma”. It’s not rude for your team to redirect a request through you, however it IS rude (and imo warrants a talk) if they ignore your instructions to not accept work from Fergus without your approval.

        4. An Australian In London*

          I suspect this isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but part of your problem here is not Fergus but your team.

          You have directed them to behave in a certain way; they are not behaving that certain way; and this is impacting their (and therefore your) ability to deliver.

          This is not really all that different from if your team were insubordinate in more obviously egregious ways such as refusing to do some work when assigned. I mean that’s exactly the situation here: you’ve directed them to not accept this work and their refusal is making life harder for them and for you.

          I doubt any of them think of this in terms of insubordination, and probably that’s not the way to discuss it with them. But right now they are weighing up cost of saying no to Fergus (“I feel bad and he pesters me”) vs. cost of giving in to Fergus (“I have to do a little more work”) and not seeing the bigger picture in terms of disruption to deadlines, commitments, and your personal and team reputation.

          So put it in those terms maybe? And don’t make it Fergus-specific? “If I am not involved in our team accepting work requests then the team will not be able to deliver as scheduled. We have a process for accepting work and there really can’t be exceptions to that, ever, for anything that will add more than at most several minutes a day total – not per request but total. Redirect all requests to me. And to be clear, this is not me stating a preference: this is a requirement of the job and anyone who can’t do it is not someone I can trust to do the job”.

          1. Despachito*

            I like this wording.

            I sort of hate to say that, because I am not a management material and feel for OP, but at this moment, I see it mostly as OP problem, because she is the manager and has all the tools to make it stop.

            I mean, most of us are logically conflict avoidant. At present, the greatest conflict for OP’s subordinates arises if they have to say NO to Fergus. It would have consequences for them from Fergus (who will probably push back) but so far has no consequences from OP, and they logically follow the path of least resistance here.

            I think OP must push back and deviate the path of least resistance by making her subordinates refer Fergus’s requests to her, and make it clear that if they don’t, they will be in trouble. This at the same time makes it easier for them (because it is not their decision but a request from the management), and makes it possible for her to say yes if it does not disturb their workload (she sees the larger pattern and whether they can afford it).

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

      Continue to refuse to participate when he assigns tasks to you or your team, “Fergus, my team and I don’t accept assignments from you. You should focus on your own work.” He’s being a jerk in the way he’s going about it, but he isn’t a jerk just for wanting to get promoted; don’t we all have a right to try for a promotion?

      1. Emma*

        He is a jerk for trying to get others to his work for him so he can get promoted. He is a jerk for causing friction in the group for his own benefit and he is a jerk for taking credit for other people’s work by running to our boss every 5 seconds with reports on “work progress” – other people’s work mind you.
        And our boss is a jerk for not realise how his pet is behaving.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          You’ve said both another boss would have stopped it, and that your boss doesn’t realize how Fergus is behaving. How direct have you been with your boss about what’s going on and the impact it’s having? It sounds to me like if your boss doesn’t realize something is affecting your team, it’s your responsibility to make it crystal clear to your boss.

    3. Tuesday*

      Sympathy. I had a Fergus at my last job in this exact situation. He was the boss’s favorite and did in fact get promoted over my entire department, despite being younger than all of us with no work experience or relevant degree. He was so bad it was like he was a character on a sitcom. But if he’s the favorite, your legitimate complaints will just get brushed off as sour grapes. The only thing I could do was leave.

    4. Meep*

      I am guessing based on your name, you are female or at least female-presenting. Welcome to dealing with ~men~. Unfortunately, being stern with him is going to make him think you are bitchy. Fortunately, that might be what you need to do.

      Put on your biggest smile and tell him that you will ask for his opinion when you need it. “Thanks, Fergus. I will defer to your suggestions if I need them.” and “I don’t want to waste your time so why don’t I come to you if I need help?”

      When he tries again, remind him you didn’t ask. Do it in a tone like you are treating a child, but still, keep it professional and polite (put on your kindergarten teacher voice.) “As I said, I will reach out and schedule a meeting when I am ready.” “I am a bit busy right now with task, so why don’t I find you when I am available to talk?” If you are feeling spiteful you can even add “Can you put it in an email?” with the expectation he is never going to actually write the email.

      He won’t be able to complain as you are being polite and professional, but he also won’t get anywhere bullying you into doing his job.

  21. anon e mouse*

    Any of you ever get senioritis in your notice period and just really kind of… not get everything done? I am worried that this is happening right now and I’m trying to tell myself that it is what it is and nobody will remember in a few months, but it does stress me out.

    1. krrby*

      Absolutely! In think most managers expect some sort of ‘senioritis’ while serving your notice period, and unless your job is something like healthcare where a lack of work could be disastrous, I wouldn’t feel too bad. Unless you’re completely mentally clocked out and not really doing much, which would be an issue and could affect future references from this employer.

    2. londonedit*

      I think it’s normal to be a bit checked out during your notice period! Where I am we have standard notice periods of one month, so while you can do a fair amount of wrapping things up, there will also be a lot of ‘Hmm, not really worth me starting anything on that before I go, I’ll just leave notes for the new person’. I think most reasonable bosses will expect your work to wind down as your notice period goes on – the last week or so will probably just be sorting out handover notes and clearing out your desk.

    3. Generic Name*

      I think this is really common, and unless you have the type of job where your tasks only last for a day or maybe a week, it’s impossible to “get everything done”. I presume you have ongoing responsibilities that someone else will take over. The best you can do is leave a reference document pointing to the location of where everything is at. But at the end of the day (or your notice period, ha), it’s your company’s responsibility to ensure continuity.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Very common. I just finished my notice period a few weeks ago, and due to some timing things with OldJob and NewJob, it was over 3 weeks. I wrapped up what I could, informed people working on my inflight projects who would be taking over, and then the last week was just kind of making sure procedures were up to date.

    5. TPS reporter*

      Not getting everything done is perfectly understandable and very common. At least document where you are with everything in process and make sure that documentation is accessible. That is going to be so helpful for the people that take over and will leave you in a good light.

  22. Dino*

    Best study tips to prepare for certification exams? I need to memorize about 60 different parts of our code of ethics and I must be able to reference them by number for situational questions.

    What has worked for you?

    1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      Find an association with the number and the topic, even if it’s kind of random. A declarative or catchy statement as a mnemonic device really works.

      For example: I memorized the amendments to the US constitution that way, and even now decades later, I can still tell you the 24th Amendment outlawed poll taxes because “I wouldn’t touch that tax with a 24-foot [pole]!”

    2. irene adler*

      I find writing things down – over and over- helps.
      My recipe:
      1.First create a master sheet: write down (or type) everything you need to memorize on however many sheets of paper it takes to cover it all.
      2.Read the master sheet entirely. Make sure it is completely accurate to what you need to memorize.
      3.Then go do something else for an hour or two.
      4.Grab paper and pen (or laptop). Write out as much as you can remember. Do not peek at the master sheet as you do this.
      5. Check your work against the master sheet. Fill in everything you missed. Actually write it all in so that it ends up reading exactly like the master sheet.
      6. Read over your work.

      Repeat steps 3-6 twice per day. Maybe three times per day if time is short. Don’t do it so many times that you fatigue your memory. That won’t help you achieve your goal.

      Somewhere I learned that to absolutely memorize something, one has to see it 26 different times. Not sure how this figure was obtained, but it brings home the point that repeated exposure is needed for memorization to occur.
      Flash cards are also good-with one drawback-there’s no writing. Writing things out helps with memorization.

    3. Emma2*

      I used the memory palace trick when I had to do something similar. You take a place you know well (eg your childhood home) and first think about the route you would walk through it (for my example (1) I walk up the porch steps, (2) go in the front door, (3) pass the hall window, and so on – you will need 60 locations). Then you associate an image for each thing you need to memorise with each location. So if I had to memorise the amendments to the US constitution in order, for the first amendment, I might think of someone praying and someone else shouting on the front porch (1) (freedom of speech freedom of religion); I might imagine firing a shot gun through the front door (2) (right to bear arms); I might then imagine a union soldier sitting in the front window (3) (restriction on the quartering of soldiers in private homes), etc.
      This approach does mean that if you need to figure out the number, you may need to count through your locations (or you might be able to do something like put the first 20 in the garden, the next 20 on the first floor, and the next 20 on the second floor so you have a quicker way to try to recall the numbers.

    4. Seeking second childhood*

      It sounds to me like you need to split this into two parts.  Learn the numbered list itself by rote and then separately master  content & implications of the individual items.
      I have suggestions for the first part. I’ve done a lot of memorization of music and poetry, and my trick is surprisingly relevant to your first task: start from the end.  Learn stanza 10, and then learn 9&10. Then 8&9&10. (After enough layers that you are confident you know the end, you can shorten it to fewer items in the list.) The result is knowing what comes before and after a given item. It becomes possible to pick up in the middle and move forward without getting things out of sequence. (It’s how we were taught to learn list songs like the 12 Days of Christmas or The Barley Mow, and works for things as silly as all the dwarves in Snow White.)
      The Schoolhouse Rock approach might help too: set the numbered list to music in your head in some way. Many US children of the 70s can sing to you the Preamble to the US Constitution, even if we did not study it in school.
      Rewriting your list in a way that creates rhyming patterns can be another memorization trick.
      Good luck!

      1. Office Gumby*

        Ditto the music thing.
        If I have to memorise a long list of something, I set it to music.
        Forty years later, I still remember “Sodium flows in, Potassium flows out; and that’s what an impulse is all about” when it comes to how nerves work.

  23. Flowers (potatoes)*

    First day/first week jitters…

    My first day is next week and I’m hella nervous. I don’t remember feeling this at my last job, but….I was younger and with less baggage then. In many ways this feels like a first job. First job after having a child, first job where I’ll be driving to work etc…First time i’ll be wearing a bra for more than 2 hours a day after 2+ years LOL

    Anyways, I got my pretty notebook and black ink pilot pens, took all my business casual clothes out of storage, planned a few days worth of easy outfits, only enough things that can fit in my “work” purse for the day, figured out parking etc. What’s a lot harder for me is figuring out the right mix of friendly and professional and making a good impression.

    What did you wish you’d known on your first day at a new job? Whether it’s your first job or 4th, 5th time around?

    1. hobbette*

      Congrats! Whatever else you do… BE KIND to yourself and don’t put too much pressure on getting everything figured out right away (work-wise or “good impression” wise). It will be a while until you remember all your new colleagues’ names/faces, get a feel for who they are, and settle into the workday routine – even things like the email system, phones, learning where the conference rooms are, etc. can seem overwhelming at first.

      Take a deep breath. You’ve got this!

      1. Flowers (potatoes)*

        Thank you so much!

        FWIW – I have massive anxiety right now about all of this. For various reasons. Focusing on the “small” things like my appearance etc help me feel calmer..

    2. WellRed*

      You probably did thus, but just in case: make sure you try the clothes on not just for fit, but to inspect their condition after two years in storage.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        Don’t be afraid to write things down. Just the act of taking notes helps reinforce the information in our minds.
        And I’d ask early about the company’s time tracking system, because I hate backfilling time estimates when I could have recorded actual time on task had anyone told me.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Remember that most new coworkers and supervisors are nice. Truly.

      We write into this site about the outliers, but most people are like ourselves – pleasant, focused on getting work done, and not looking for problems. All the problems I had at ExToxicJob? Caused by a handful of people out of a multi agency team of nearly 200. Be Pollyanna and look for the best in your new teammates.

      Enjoy your new job!

  24. Mbarr*

    There’s a nationwide internet outage in Canada right now. Many users can’t access WiFi or cell service.

    The student employee that I manage called me this morning, and I told him just to keep checking his WiFi and log on when the internet was working again (we usually only go into the office on Wednesdays).

    Was this the right call?

    I found out our office WiFi is working, but only 1 member of my team is there (and she’s in the office everyday). It doesn’t look like anyone else has driven in (I think only 2 other members of my team are local – the rest would require a 60 minute drive). Personally, I would go in, but I’m temporarily sick with an infectious disease so that’s why I’m avoiding it. My student doesn’t have a car, so it would take him at least 30 minutes just to get to the office.

    My own manager and directors are out of office for vacation, so I can’t ask them for their opinion… There’s nothing urgent to do. If we could access the internet we’d just be working on various initiatives that aren’t time sensitive.

    All this to say, when can we claim we’re having the equivalent of a “snow day” when we could solve our problems by going into the office?

    1. Jen-A-Roo*

      Right call. Explain it like you did. Keep up with your student employee and/or other team members to see how they’re faring. Keep communicating to show that you didn’t just doff off for the day.

      I didn’t think I’d see a whole country internet outage, but your not the first poster today to mention this.

      Good luck and get better.

      1. Mbarr*

        Yeah, Canada’s internet infrastructure is essentially owned by two companies. If one of them goes down… My internet is through the downed company, but luckily I have cell service through their competitor.

    2. Dasein9*

      Do it now. It will be great for morale!

      If this keeps happening, you’ll need a plan that actually gets work done, but I think you’ll find giving everyone a Friday off will pay off in goodwill.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. It’s too late now. If it continues or occurs again, your company/organization should have a policy in place.

        Conversely my organization’s policy very clearly states that if you are equiped for WFH when a snow day is declared you need to work from home and can’t just skip work because you can’t get into the office on a day you might have gone in or others who can only work from the office are given a snow day.

        I hope you wouldn’t need a policy for future widespread internet outages, but it would be fair to say that since you have an office that employees can work from for future internet outages (not only national / maybe only in a small area or their own home), people are expected to come in if it lasts more than X hours.

    3. After 33 years ...*

      This is so widespread, everyone will know about it, including your managers. I’d don’t think it’s an issue to take the time off to wait things out.

    4. WellRed*

      When it became apparent there was a serious problem I would have cut him loose for the day, not keep checking. It’s an unproductive use of time and a “snow day” would have bought a ton of goodwill.

    5. Seeking second childhood*

      If you come back to read this on Monday, please check with your student & payroll to make sure that they get paid for their full Friday even if they couldn’t log in to a time clock app.

  25. Cheezmouser*

    I’ve been told by my VP that I sometimes come off as negative, close-minded, or resistant, and that this is the main thing holding me back from being promoted to a leadership position. She admitted that I’m usually right, the concerns I raise are legitimate and I’m usually spot on when I point out issues with resourcing, prioritization, strategy, etc. But she would like to see me approach it from a “glass half full” perspective instead of “glass half empty.”

    Example: we are deciding whether to work with a vendor that we’ve worked with in the past. We previously stopped working with them because they were dishonest and short-changed us, but now they have a new product that we really want. Everyone is talking excitedly about how we can work with this vendor again. I say, “I’m concerned about our previous experience with this vendor. The issues last time resulted in lost business for us and damaged relationships with our clients. How do we know that this won’t be a repeat?” The VP responds, “We can’t keep thinking about the past. I’d like us to move forward assuming good intentions on both sides, or else nothing will ever get done.” I’m later pulled aside and told that I appear resistant.

    Looking back, I see the VP’s point. I don’t want to be painted as the Debbie Downer or “not a team player” or “not solution-oriented.” But at the same time, I’m slightly annoyed because by her own admission I have legitimate concerns. However, since I don’t want this to hold me back from career advances, I need to take it seriously.
    She is not the only person who has raised this concern with me. What’s the best way to address it?

    1. londonedit*

      Could you maybe try starting off with something positive? More like ‘That new product looks amazing; it’ll really help us get more hair out of the llamas and speed up the grooming process. My only worry is that Vendor X short-changed us last time we worked with them, so I’d like to get clarification from them that we won’t have that situation again. But apart from that, it sounds great!’

      1. irene adler*

        This is a good approach. It shows you are on board with what everyone wants AND brings up a point that everyone should be concerned about. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away; going in with eyes open can help detect any issues learned from past experience.

    2. WiscoKate*

      I would probably soften the language a little, mention that the product looks great but it would be helpful to hear from the vendor what changes they made to avoid issues like the one you ran into last time.

    3. Observer*

      Based on the example you mention, I don’t know if you can.

      I get why everyone wants the new product, but the concern you brought up is valid. Assuming good intent when you have a history is irresponsible. The only thing that you might change here is to ask “How can we avoid a repeat of past problems?” rather than “How do we know it won’t happen again?” (Hint, you do NOT know that – and unless there have been significant changes with that vendor, all signs are that it WILL happen again.)

      So, yes, tweak your language to either present potential solutions or ask for possible solutions / work arounds. But if the people you are dealing with tend to live in la-la land, that might not be enough.

    4. Savvy*

      I think if you include solutions (or starting the discussion to talk about solutions) as part of your concern, then it would be much better received. For your vendor example, it sounds like you are just saying “we shouldn’t work with this vendor,” which is frustrating when other people see there is value with that vendor. It seems like you are just trying to shoot it down completely. HOWEVER, if you were to say something like, “I have X concerns about this vendor based on our past experience, what can we do to safeguard against these possible issues if we move forward with them?” So then you are talking about solutions that would address your concerns, while also allowing the idea to move forward.

    5. One to find the Giraffe*

      Is there a way to express your concerns while also offering solutions? Obviously, this only works in particular circumstances, but for example: “ I agree, this new product seems really exciting and could be really beneficial for us. I also know the last time we struggled when this vendor shortchanged us. Could we talk to the contract team about beefing up some of the SLA language in this particular agreement to make sure that we’ve covered ourselves this time?” Etc.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This! Always come with your potential proactive solutions – that’s what we expect from leaders. Now that you’re on warning I’d say never voice a concern without offering a good suggestion.

    6. Lora*

      Can you think of ways to mitigate the risk and lead with that?

      “In order to ensure that we can keep delivering X to our own customers, let’s also consider Vendor B and Vendor C / structure milestone payments for Fun Vendor / add 365 days of lead time to our own delivery dates to be sure we’ll have things in stock to accommodate their typical delays / set up a structured MSA to be able to work closely with Fun Vendor and understand what’s going on with them and have some recourse / etc”

      They might be giving you their best case scenario for delivery and be really crap at planning for failure. Some people don’t ever want to account for holidays, key people quitting or getting hit by a bus, their own suppliers screwing up and so on. They are bad at Excel. It is possible to work with a vendor for whom you have low expectations as long as you have a lot of backup plans for coping with their failure, which are easiest to make if you have some notion of why specifically they are failing.

    7. Filosofickle*

      I’ve been going around this exact tree.

      The advice my boss gave me is to shift focus away from the problem and toward the solution. Shift “how do we know this won’t go wrong” to “how will we ensure this goes right”: “Learning from last time, what steps can we take to ensure XYZ?” Something like that.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Even better, “knowing the issues last time, I’d also suggest X contract amendment or Y fallback plan”

      2. Invisible today*

        Also, be aware of your timing. Often when an idea is suggested, there is a burst of excitement and energy during which everyone spouts how great it is. If you come in then with your “but what about”, it will ruin their mood and everyone thinks of you as Dr. Gloom and Doom. However, if you can survi e that initial wave of excitement and let everyone get it out of their system, theyll be a lot more receptive to the “yes this is great BUT…” that they do need to hear.

    8. BlueBelle*

      I would offer a solution at the same time or ask how we can avoid, by positively coming up with solutions it won’t come off as so negative or inflexible. “Previously there were issues around vendor doing/not doing X, to move forward with this plan I think to avoid this we need to implement Y and get it into the contract. “

    9. Bogey*

      And do you get to say “I told you so” when history repeats itself? Maybe language of “What steps should we take to monitor this vendor?” Good luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Even that is not leadership language, IMO, if OP wants to be promoted. Don’t ask what someone else is going to do – make a suggestion about what the team should do.

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

      Agree with others, before you publicly identify a problem, see if you can offer a solution. “We are very excited about the New Product, but we’ve had issues with Vendor X shorting us in the past, so I propose that we …” sign a shorter-term contract, have a process of verifying the delivery (qty and quality) before accepting the delivery or invoices are paid, have an alternate vendor vetted…

      Also, it might help if you don’t bring these concerns up in a general meeting, but only one-on-one with your direct manager and not anyone outside of your report structure — that tends to be the way of leadership — play cards closer to the vest and publicly keep a happy face. Ultimately though, you might have to decide if the “worst that can happen” is really worth it to you personally to fight, and then let the chips fall where they may.

    11. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think others have said everything I could add. Positivity and offering solutions are key. As someone who supervises someone who I’ve had to give this same feedback too, I’d also add that I’m impressed that you’re clearly hearing the concerns. I think one trick I have is to write down my concerns in a notebook and bring them to my boss privately after I’ve had a chance to think about them a little.

    12. SomebodyElse*

      Not sure if you’ll see this so late in the day. But I ran across this when I was dealing with 2 new people on a long term project I was working on.

      They both had really good ideas, so good that we had already tried then abandoned them. I didn’t want to be a downer so I started rephrasing “We used to do that but stopped because of X” to “We used to do that, it might be worth trying it again. We stopped initially because Y, buy who knows what has changed in the interim that could make that not an issue anymore”

      So in your example I would try saying something like:

      “Oh that’s great that Vendor has that new product. We just need to make sure we keep an eye on the invoices so we don’t run into the same problem we had in the past. Maybe we should set up a quarterly review with them to make sure we’re all on track?”

      It’s subtle, but you are acknowledging the problem by solving for it ahead of time. Usually this is enough to inform others of what you know while looking for solutions to make it work. In other words, go into these conversations with the take that anything is possible, you just need to solve for known issues.

    13. Disco Janet*

      Compliment sandwich it. Find something good to say about that vendor, then bring up your concern, then say something positive or enthusiastic about how you would love to see it work out and go well for your company/team/whatever.

      Presumably someone came up with the idea your criticizing or questions, and it sounds like while your criticism and questions are valuable, they’re rubbing others the wrong way. For example, I’m a teacher, and have a group of colleagues teaching the same classes as me. We plan together as a unit, so we all bring a bunch of ideas to the table and discuss them. And I much prefer having these meetings with my coworker who compliments me about something THEN asks questions or raises possible concerns compared to my coworker who jumps straight to the concerns and questions and never seems to have a positive take unless it’s about one of his own ideas. Making people feel appreciated for bringing ideas to the table, and finding something you can be complimentary about, is a needed skill.

  26. krrby*

    I applied to a position with a state agency about a week ago now, and am anxious to hear anything back. Does anyone have any insight on timelines for interviewing/hiring with state agencies (specifically departments of transportation)? I’m still relatively young in my career, and not sure what would be considered normal in this scenario.

    1. DarthVelma*

      Speaking as someone who has worked in state government for almost 25 years now…think of the longest you imagine the process could take…and then triple that.

      You won’t hear anything until after the position posting closes. And even then, if there are a lot of applicants or their HR is understaffed, it takes a while to go through all of the applications to screen for the minimum job requirements. Then the applications that make it past the HR screening will go to the hiring manager, who may screen even more to decide who they want to interview.

      So don’t expect to hear back for a while (and it the state you’re in is faster than mine and you do hear back soon, consider yourself very lucky).

      Thing is they have to follow an established process. The down-side is things take a very long time. The upside is they can’t fire you on a whim.

    2. GlazedDonut*

      Government in general moves at a glacial pace unless it is something that needs to be expedited by a very senior level person (executive assistant to the head of the agency, for example).
      In my experience, allow 2-3 weeks (at least, could be 4-6) for all applications to come in, and then screenings start. Sometimes it’s just phone, sometimes it’s phone + video + task + additional video.
      In many cases with government, the agency must keep the posting up for a certain amount of time and/or wait for a minimum number of applications to come in before moving to the next step.

      1. krrby*

        Application submission closed last Friday at midnight, so they’re in the screening process right now. I’m just an anxious person by nature, so not hearing anything is a bit nerve racking. I already expected it to take a while (which honestly, I’ll need as much time as I can get to hopefully help my successor get in place), so y’all’s reassurance is great.

        1. lurkyloo*

          I’m in gov’t in Canada, so it MIGHT be different, but a typical external posting can take up to 9-12 months to fill. Sucks to hear, I know! Even internal postings can be 3-6 months (and that’s SPEEDY!)

    3. Thistle Pie*

      Often public entities have application periods and they wait until the end of the application period to review all applicants and then reach out for interviews. So if there is a “submit application by this date” in the job ad, I wouldn’t expect to hear back until around that time.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I second what everyone else has said so far. There could be 200 applicants, & every resume must be read & evaluated. Many, many people are probably looking at your materials.

      And if the posting is still open, they might not even be scheduling interviews yet.

    5. JimmyJab*

      LONG TIME, and if you hear back the process for interviewing will also be long and slow. Bureaucracy man.

    6. Paris Geller*

      Echoing what others have said and expect it to take a long time. My experience is in local government, not state, but from my understanding the process is similar and even when we *want* to move fast there’s just a lot we have to do before we can even schedule interviews. There are some upsides to government hiring (strong protections against nepotism/favoritism,etc.), but the timing is not one of them.

    7. MiniPantherMom*

      I can provide an applicant’s perspective. I have had several jobs with local and state governments, and in my experience, I have gotten that first interview request anywhere from 4-8 weeks after applying. You many not have to wait that long if they need to fill the spot urgently, but often the hiring process for government positions at any level tends to be slow and bogged down in numerous required steps. I wouldn’t put much stock in not hearing back after just 1 week though I would encourage you to continue applying to other jobs while you wait. Something you like even more might come into your path.

    8. Statistics Cat*

      Also in state government – a crucial vacancy on our team had the application period end February 28. We did our first interview yesterday.

      Hiring is a long slog, for the reasons others above have said, and it’s normal to wait a ridiculously long time before hearing back.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      Usually, I give it a month, minimum. But I would encourage you to apply elsewhere in the meantime, because that can help you mentally move on (at least, it helps me.)

    10. Cecil Beeber*

      State DOT manager here: we just received data from our HR that the average time for hiring is about 30 days. They are working with us to get it down to 20 days. But if there are a number of applicants, it can take a week or two to review them all, especially for non-engineering positions. Expect any salary negotiations to take weeks.

  27. Managing small one-person projects?*

    Does anyone know good resources about planning and executing small, one- or two-person projects, where the only person you’re accountable to is yourself?

    I’ve been watching project management tutorials and they’ve been helpful, but even the “small projects” one had a lot of focus of stakeholders, leveraging the skills of the people working on the project, reporting out, etc. I think I would benefit from something that’s more “how to plan and execute a complex task you haven’t done before” and less “how to coordinate the work of many people”.

    It might also be that I’m looking for something that would be categorized as something other than “project management”, but I wouldn’t know what that would be.

    Thanks for any thoughts!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Kanban boards work really well for me (“To do”, “waiting (on something else first)”, “in progress”, “done”). Break the project into a lot of steps and then move stuff back and forth between the categories. Like if project is create advertisement for event, elements are “Get event info”, “Make flyer”, “write social media posts”, “schedule posts”, “send flyers to printer”, “create email blast and subscriber update options”, “get webpage info to developers”, “test webpage is live”, “Add content to webpage”. If you could do it right now it goes into To do, if another step needs down first it goes into waiting. If it actively something you are working on today it goes in progress. Then its easy to see at a glance what pieces you could/should be working on but also not lose the pieces that are waiting on something from someone else or even part of your own work.

      1. I take tea*

        This sounds very good! I usually plain forget things after I have sent them off elsewhere for processing. An aid to remember what I’m waiting for and maybe follow up would be a really good idea.

    2. introverted af*

      One thing that has worked for me when I have a big task to work on that is really just my own thing, but is actually important to my work, is to tell my supervisor my goal deadline and milestones. She doesn’t really care, it doesn’t affect anyone else, but it gives her something to follow up on and keeps me accountable. Of course my answer could be, “well I discovered that cleaning this part of the llama statue actually requires industrial strength cleaner that has a 3 month lead time to order, so I’m on hold until that gets in,” but there’s a conversation there to engage in.

    3. the cat's pajamas*

      It’s older and a bit cheesy but I really found the book The Scrappy Guide to Project Management really helpful for smaller projects when I was starting out. I stumbled upon a copy at a thrift store. It is still available online, though ebay might be a option, too. Good luck!

  28. Lavender Latte*

    Declare it “snow day” now. This is a student employee, it is Friday, and as you said, nothing urgent going on.

  29. Taylor*

    I have three months of experience in a position called “senior law clerk” that used to be done by a paralegal. The job description explicitly stated that it required a licensed attorney with about three years of experience, and in my interviews I confirmed that they were looking for an attorney. Everyone except me has been in this particular department for the 10 years since its inception, and apparently my position actually used to be a paralegal position.

    I have been repeatedly referred to as “the paralegal” or “our paralegal” by the other people in the department. When I tell people in other departments that I’m a licensed attorney I can usually see them getting confused, because my department head refers to me as a paralegal. Someone else tried to rope me into a project with “the other paralegals” and I corrected him, but again I could tell he was confused and caught off-guard, as was the pro bono coordinator when I tried to sign up and was given a paralegal packet of information and asked for the attorney one.

    I know part of it is my ego, but this is a huge drawback of the job for me. I think the main issue is less that I’m being mistaken for a paralegal, but I’m concerned that if the department sees me as one they’re not going to give me stretch assignments, but how do I correct people or ask for that without coming across like an ass?

    1. Dasein9*

      Ask! Ask the person you report to how to solve this issue. It might help to frame it as what’s in the firm’s best interest as well as your own. Maybe something like this: “I’m worried that I won’t be given as much opportunity to perform duties that will help the firm if people believe I’m in a different role from the one you hired me for.”

      If there’s a gender component to this (for instance, if most of the paralegals are women and only a few of the lawyers are), you may need to push back harder because people’s expectations may be colored by that.

      1. Taylor*

        Part of my reluctance is the fact that my direct boss is one of the main people doing it, so it feels pretty blatant. I’m not sure if that’s just him unconsciously/habitually stuck on the old role (since 10 years ago the position was a paralegal) or if he doesn’t think it should have ever been changed.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I think that makes it even more important to ask him about it, because then you’re flagging it for him that he’s still doing it.

        2. PollyQ*

          The mildly sneaky way to handle this is to ask your boss for advice on how to deal with the problem that “many people” think you’re a paralegal. Hopefully, he’ll realize that he’s one of those people and stop doing it.

    2. Purple Cat*

      You’re not acting like an “ass” for matter-of-factly correcting people.
      So, “actually, I’m a lawyer” should serve every time people misstate your role, it’s no different than if they called you “Bob” when your name is “Billy”.
      But absolutely have a follow-up with your manager about your concerns. It’s very valid to be concerned about limited assignments if people don’t think you’re up to the task. I’m sure they’re paying you “lawyer” rates and not “paralegal” rates, and want to get the most bang for their buck.

    3. Lilo*

      As an attorney I think this is a pretty bad organizational problem. Ethics rules are different for attorneys and paralegals and the fact that your firm can’t keep straight who is who suggests they are either micromanaging you or not properly supervising paralegals.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If this were me — and I swear I’m being an “internet tough guy” on this — I would firmly and clearly say “I’m a lawyer, not a paralegal” every single time I hear someone call me a paralegal. Broken record this sh-t. You won’t be coming across as an ass. You’ll be coming across as a lawyer who doesn’t want to be referred to as a paralegal.

      I’m an old and I’m a stick-in-the-mud second-wave feminist and I would not put up with not being acknowledged as a lawyer.

      1. Anon attorney*

        Cosigning this. I would not put up with that for one second. Don’t excuse this crap by thinking you’re being an egotist for objecting. You’re not, and even if you were, that would be completely fair. You are a lawyer and are entitled to be recognized as one. That’s not putting down being a paralegal, it’s just being accurate. There is a difference and it does incorporate status. It needs to be corrected.
        As well as the broken record, could you put something in your email signature that references your professional accreditation (“licensed by the state bar of Xx, license number ####” kind of thing).
        Are there any internal professional development seminars or what not, where you could volunteer to give a seminar and make it very clear you are a licensed attorney?

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Perhaps those people are confused, because the way I read it, the position you hold is a paralegal position. You personally have a law degree/license, but is the work you do right now that of a lawyer or a paralegal?

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      The part of this that;s confusing (for me at least) is that it sounds as though even though the title of the position has changed, the job itself sounds the same as before (or does it? I can’t tell..)

      That’s not a good reason for someone to call you a paralegal if you’re not one, but it sounds as if you’re doing paralegal rather than attorney work so I can see why it’s happening

    7. Can Can Cannot*

      Time to look for a new job, someplace where you won’t be seen as “our paralegal.” It doesn’t look like your current firm is able to do that.

  30. DeepAnon*

    I should probably be looking harder for a new job. The current one is easy and I do it very well indeed. Working from home is wonderful. This job leaves me time for a life, but I’m very underpaid for what I do and the job itself is one I’m overqualified for. Inflation is pinching even my very modest lifestyle.

    Job ads are just so. . . energetic! They make me exhausted with all the talk of being a self-starter, go-getter, people-person, taker of responsibility, growth mindset, [insert this week’s jargon terms here]. Reading them inspires me with a mighty urge to nap instead.

    Any advice for someone whose get-up-and-go has got up and went?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      As someone who has no desire to be a “taker of responsibility,” I know the “I’m tired just from reading the job description” feeling.

      Ignore all the “go-getter, growth mindset, [this week’s jargon]” as much as possible and look at the job duties/responsibilities sections and any hard qualifications (degrees, certifications, X years working with [software],etc.).

      If you need to, print out the job ads and cross out all of the soft-skills jargon so that your brain doesn’t get stuck on that.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree – I also think it’s worth remembering that (most of the time!) you’re never going to be expected to do absolutely everything on the job description all the time. I know the feeling of reading a whole list of tasks and thinking oh my goodness, I’ll never be able to do all of this, but in reality when you start the job you find that only the first few things are actually everyday/every week occurrences; others are a couple of times a month, and there’s a whole batch of tasks that you might be asked to do every now and then but that don’t really impact your job that much.

      2. talos*

        I usually skip the entire job ad to read the duties and qualifications first! (also salary range as I’m in CO.) I only read the beginning if I feel good about the duties and qualifications first.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I am so glad to hear someone else say this. I think I’m either in the wrong field or need to get medicated because my current cushy job is no longer paying the bills but I’m not seeing any new jobs that look better.

  31. Panda*

    How and when do you know if you made a mistake in changing jobs?

    I worked for a company for 11 year, was progressively promoted over that time and had great leadership, interesting work, and loved almost all my colleagues (there were a couple that were difficult). But the company started doing reorgs and layoffs in 2020 and hasn’t stopped since. While we were told we would be safe, I was still nervous about its viability long term so when a friend recommended me for a job at her company in a different industry I applied and eventually (after 6 months and 5 interviews) took a job. The benefits are slightly better than what I had, the salary is the same, but the industry is much more stable right now (even in this recession). My coworkers are nice and welcoming, the benefits are great, the senior leadership is everything I’d want in leadership.

    However, two months in, I am frustrated. They placed me on a new team who didn’t have someone in my position to handle work and there is no good way for me to get work except for the other team members to dole it out as they think of it (even though I ask). When I ask for more work, they tell me to read the training material again. The work I am doing doesn’t seem to use much of the skills that I used at my old job. I am bored out of my mind. We have to be in the office 50% of the time but since it can be any 50%, I end up there by myself or with one other person in my department (in my previous position, we went in once per week, my team all on the same day so we could do our staff meeting in person and collaborate). And there is hot desking instead of assigned workstations and offices (I had an office in my old job). People will take Teams meetings (and they are all Teams meetings) sitting right next to me which is super distracting. I thought I could deal with the hot desking but as an introvert I loathe it.

    Is this just getting used to a new job or “buyer’s remorse” because I miss my old job and coworkers so much? Should I start looking, ideally one completely remote? There are no obvious red flags here, so I’m stumped.

    1. Jen*

      One thing to bear in mind is that not everyone prioritizes what they need in a job the same way. Someone else might not be that phased by not having an office, but it could be higher on your “must-have” list, and that’s perfectly okay. Is it possible that you’re pressuring yourself to stay in the job because you think you shouldn’t be concerned with things like that, or with the idea that you’re not busy enough? And if you can get a completely remote job, why wouldn’t you?

      1. Panda*

        I think I’m pressuring myself to stay because from what others tell me, they on ramp you slowly, then you’re super busy. And it’s a great company with lots of opportunities available if I stick around for a year.

        1. Jen*

          What I’ve done in cases like those is to set a timeline for myself. Stick around for X months and then if you don’t get the opportunities you want, then you can feel comfortable departing knowing that you gave it your best shot.

    2. Dasein9*

      I find it helpful to remember something I learned when working with international students:
      When a big change comes, we first love everything about it.
      Then we hate everything about it.
      After a time, we settle into liking some things and not liking others; we find a baseline for “normal” and have our good days and bad days like everyone else.

      Two months isn’t very long and it doesn’t sound like your new job is toxic, just boring. I would therefore urge you to give it a little more time to get used to it. (Hotdesking sounds awful to me too, but I bet it’ll be less bad when you’re more busy.) You may just need more time to acclimate, especially as you’re getting eased in but are used to a very familiar bustle and your place in it.

  32. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    First week at my new job. So many acronyms! But reminding myself, I’m not expected to know any of them right now and before I know it I’ll be rattling them off no problem. But ugh, I wish there was some sort of basic reference guide (I looked, there is not)

    1. GlazedDonut*

      I recently created one for a new hire — maybe keep your own list and it will be helpful to someone else down the line! :)

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I might start doing that. I’m going to try and do some poking around later just to make sure there isn’t one. My boss has been here 20 years so she’s not sure either!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Even if one exists, I found it helps the acronyms stick in my head better when I write them down myself.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Definitely do it. I maintain one on our intranet that was originally started by a coworker who came on board when our department split off from another. We do government work in the healthcare field. So, there are a lot of acronyms.

      2. Been There*

        I just took your suggestion to heart and made one for our department. I remember when I started, I was so confused all all the time because of all the acronyms!

    2. Queen Ruby*

      I just started a new job this week too, and there are so many acronyms. But! They have a whole list of acronyms on sharepoint. It’s like 30 pages long lol.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I work at Abbreviation Central. OK, that’s not actually my employer’s name, but it might as well be. Only place worse for it, IME, is the military. I’ve been here over a decade and a half, and I’m STILL learning new abbreviations. We used to have a guide back when I started, but it proved impossible to keep up and is now hopelessly out of date. Sympathies!

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I think this is where things are at. I saw some basic ones on Sharepoint, that someone started and must have said “Oh my, I’ll never be able to finish/keep this up” and it was abandoned.

        I decided to start a personal OneNote listing ones as I go. I think that’s fine. My boss has been great setting the expectations that I’ll likely need to hear the same information many times before it clicks.

  33. Dreaming of daffodils*

    Thanks to those on the Monday thread who offered feedback and shared positive experiences working for a new, small nonproft. Interview went really well, and they are working on my offer letter right now!!

  34. Goose*

    I am overseas for 5 weeks on a work trip and am feeling increasingly isolated. The work is having me jump from place to place every few days with 14 hour non stop “days” before I can even check my email and return emails or do any other work integral to my job. Within 11 days, I have already had to take two “sick days” (in quotes because I was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration, and now my first cold virus in three years that has completely wrecked me BUT I used that time to get the computer based work done rather than rest up.) I feel like a failure and can’t get a hold of my boss, who even if I could talk to (lost my voice as well) I’m not sure if here’s anything they could do. Both sides of the work are important for different reasons and I can’t drop the ball on either which I am doing, not to say anything about my health physically and mentally.

    I have no idea what to do and have three more weeks of this. There are other team member who are doing more than me in the same situation (I am managing four teams in the ground while the are handling ten, for example.) so it’s doable but not by me without drastic changes.

    1. not a doctor*

      You’re running your health into the ground. It doesn’t matter what other team members are doing. Let the balls drop until you’re not actively hurting yourself.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Keep telling yourself it takes 3x longer with 2x the mistakes to try and push thru exhaustion. Repeat it to yourself over and over until it sinks in. In the meantime take at least 12 hours to rest… sleep, watch the most brain-dead thing you can find online, go find a park and people watch, or a beach and watch the tide come in. Whatever will help you zone out, recover, and recharge. It will seem like a waste of time to begin with but you’ll thank yourself later.

        This took me a long time to really learn but it makes a HUGE difference. Tasks are suddenly quicker, new ideas are easier, less stupid mistakes are made, problems aren’t as big as they appear, minor personality conflicts with coworkers are easier to brush off.

        Your body really does tell you what it needs when you listen to it. It took minor surgery with medication that made me sleep for 48 hours straight to realize how poor my thinking, reasoning, & emotions were the first time I tried to ignore and push thru some major stressors. (Side note: the medication actually wore off after 4-6 hours, it just let me get to a deep restful sleep, the other 42-44 hours was just my exhaustion taking over once it had permission. But I can’t stress how much better I felt in all aspects of my life when I woke up.)

    2. OneTwoThree*

      First of all, realize that you are doing your personal best. I know it’s easy to compare yourself to others. However, you are not in the same exact situation (they aren’t sick, they may work better under pressure, they might have more experience, it might all be optics, maybe you are working with fewer teams but your feel more heard/ helped/ better managed/ etc).

      Second, I would make sure anyone emailing you knows that you are unavailable by email (maybe with an OOO). That might help you have less guilt. Is there someone who can help with urgent emails? Could you put their contact info in your OOO?

      Take some time to completely rest. No multitasking. No mindlessly spending time on your phone. Actually be still (sleeping, being mindful/ meditating, self care, etc.).

    3. Liz in the Midwest*

      I am at the end of a 7-week trip abroad, going to a bunch of different European countries, partially for work, partially vacation.
      And oh my, travel is EXHAUSTING. Give yourself a break. Just being in a new place, away from home, potentially where you don’t speak the native language… just existing takes more energy. Add your workload to that, and it is no wonder you’re sick and stressed!

      I find I need a lot more rest when abroad than I wish I did. If I am super busy, I hit a wall of exhaustion a lot faster than I do at home.

      I don’t have any magic solutions, but I just wanted to comment and say it’s no surprise you’re having a tough time, and to take care of yourself and not compare yourself to others. (My husband, who I co-own a travel company with, can walk all day, be gone at different sites all day, and be fine getting back to a hotel at 10pm. If I do that more than, say, one day in a row, I am a miserable, exhausted mess. People are just different.)

      I hope you are able to rest and care for yourself. <3. Keep us posted, and good luck!

  35. R*

    I’m going on maternity leave at the end of September, and this week my managers announced my coworker, S, will be covering my job while I’m out. S also covered my previous maternity leave in 2019, so she’s not starting from scratch to learn my work and take over. I heard good feedback about her work when I returned from leave in 2019.

    My issue is, a couple weeks ago a colleague outside my organization mentioned that she hoped S would not cover for me this time, because she had a negative impression from the 2019 coverage. I asked for details, and she specifically mentioned that S verbally expressed she didn’t enjoy the work and that clients were confused by S’s explanations and had to clarify with this colleague.

    This is the only negative feedback I’ve heard about S’s work covering me. I’m inclined to want to share that feedback with S and see if we can do additional training or something to avoid those issues this time. However, she will need to work with this colleague so I don’t want to torpedo a good working relationship between them while I’m out by being too blunt about where the feedback came from. Any ideas?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would not mention the comments to S!!!!! Who knows if that outside colleague impression of S’s work is accurate or representative of many people, also clients getting confused happens sometimes even with excellent explanations.

      Just make sure to schedule a meeting with S though and offer to go through anything she’d want a refresher on and just update her since its been 3 years since she last covered. You can frame it as being nervous about being out and just wanting to make sure everything all set. And take the time to maybe write more stuff down, especially on the areas that were mentioned to you as having issues that way even while you’re out there’s documentation.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Totally agree with this! Don’t mention a thing to S, just give her a refresher.

  36. Shiny*

    Hello! I may be faced with a big career choice very soon and could use some advice from strangers! It gets quite long, so TIA to anyone who reads the whole thing.

    I am currently working for a consulting group in a niche area. Our main client is a government agency. We get assignments, work them out, and then move on to the next when one opens up. I started my first assignment in March and it is supposed to end around Oct/Nov. It’s not great, and I’m starting to think about the next thing. There are 3 big options:

    1. My current manager wants me to stay past the end of my contract, possibly shifting employers to do so. This is a no for me, but means I’ve had to pull in my bosses to make sure we handle this gracefully.

    Option 2: Stay with my current employers, with them trying to place me overseas. This could happen fairly rapidly, but it is far more likely that options will open up in December and I would move early 2023. This means I’d have to stay longer in my current placement, and I have no idea what the options will be: I could end up anywhere in the world. Pros: This is a solid company with good culture, the pay is better than option 3 (though it’s enough with either to not make a huge difference), I’d get to stay and continue on my track here, the assignment is such that it opens a ton of doors later on, as it’s a huge boost to a resume.

    Option 3: My former employer is recruiting me for a position overseas. If I’m offered, they would likely let me finish out my original contract through October, though it’s a little up in the air. The work would be incredibly interesting and fulfilling and the location is a dream one. Cons: Less money, I might burn a bridge, they can only guarantee a job for one year, though it would likely extend, and my old employer is a total mess right now (I left for reasons). I’d be insulated from a lot of the problems by virtue of being project based instead of in headquarters, but there’s potential for trickle down.

    What say you? I’m leaning towards Option 2 at the moment. Option 3 is the most thrilling and exciting and dream like, but Option 2 seems like the most responsible way to build a career and track record. I’m mid career, but there’s still room to grow. But it also feels very hard to, if they make the Option 3 offer, turn down something amazing for something unknown.

    1. Cordelia*

      the “amazing” is also unknown though, really…dream jobs in dream locations don’t always work out that way. Sometimes they do, of course – I just mean that perhaps thinking about it as a choice between the amazing and the unknown isn’t the best way of framing it. The unknown could be amazing!

      1. lurkyloo*

        You left for ‘reasons’. Start there. Even if you’re not directly in the line of fire, you’d know the fires are burning.
        With option 2, as you seem to be excited about moving overseas/internationally, do you have any negotiation ability? It seems to be the best option generally. Better pay, more stability, and the future resume boost. You’d have to deal with a less than ideal situation for a short time, but you’d not burn the bridge and you’d be able to carry on with an upward trajectory.
        If old job can only guarantee the job for a year and it doesn’t get extended…you’re stuck with a burnt bridge and no canoe (Canadianism…not really, I just thought it was funny :D )

    2. Disco Janet*

      Is option 3 also going to open doors and potentially future amazing opportunities the way option 2 would? Like, five years down the road, what does the future look like with each of them?

  37. GlazedDonut*

    I saw a TikTok recently that started to make me wonder:
    In this video, someone (can’t remember username) explained that one reason some coworkers rub you the wrong way is that those coworkers are expressing what is in your shadow personality, which could be described as traits/attitudes/behaviors you have tried to un-learn or were scolded for as a child.
    For example, maybe Annie is frustrating because she talks about herself a lot, and as a kid you were told not to focus too much on yourself. Maybe Betty keeps interrupting and because that’s a trait you’ve worked hard to un-learn, it bothers you.
    It makes sense to me. Other thoughts?

    1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      The “shadow personality” part of it sounds weird to me, but as a general principle, I think it’s fairly commonly accepted that many people tend to be the harshest against other people for traits they themselves possess and struggle with. I would imagine there’s a fair bit of overlap between people’s self-perceived negative traits and traits that their parents/guardians/teachers tried to train or punish out of them.

    2. Jen*

      There might be some merit to it but it doesn’t work when you apply that idea with too broad of a brush. I’ve never been sexist, overly-apologetic, or combative about trivial things, but I’ve been frustrated by people being all of those things at work.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! I think it’s more of “for some people, sometimes this is the reason you don’t get along.”

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s really useful when someone is driving you nuts and you’re not sure *why* you’re *this irritated* by them. Sure if someone’s being a sexist ass to you, it’s obvious why you don’t like them. But if you’re always at BEC level with someone who’s not objectively that bad, this can be the reason.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Yeah, I had this happen to me with a friend of mine. He had a tendency to over-explain things, which is a little annoying. But I was so irritated by his over-explanations! And then I realized it’s because I also occasionally over-explain things, so I was annoyed at him for his behavior, and then more annoyed because his behavior made me realize I am also annoying.

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            Or sometimes they remind you of someone else with whom you had a bad experience! I developed an irrational dislike of a friend of a friend once because she reminded me (in looks, mannerisms, etc.) of someone I had known who treated me poorly. I had to keep reminding myself to look for ways they were different, so that I wouldn’t judge her unfairly.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think so. It one of those things that when it aligns to your experience you think it’s a brilliant observation, but it’s just as hit or miss as anything else. Almost anything you’ve tried to un-learn or were scolded for as a child is going to a negative, annoying, impolite trait to start with.

      Conversely I could find Annie talking about herself a lot frustrating because I am a private, introvert so don’t like overly talkative, overly-sharing people. Or Betty’s interupting is annoying because being interrupted is annoying.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Almost anything you’ve tried to un-learn or were scolded for as a child is going to a negative, annoying, impolite trait to start with.

        This exactly – it’s confirmation bias run amok. Phrased another way, this is just “you dislike traits that your culture taught you to dislike.”

      2. Disco Janet*

        Agreed. I have a coworker who never stops talking (including talking over other people) about herself and her personal life. It drives me nuts. But I was definitely not a super talkative kid – I’m much more talkative now, but have never struggled to find the line with what is too much, or with talking over others.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think “shadow personality” makes it sound needlessly mystical. Yes, one reason you might not like / get along with people is that they exhibit traits you don’t like or don’t accept about yourself. This is a very well-known concept.

      It’s certainly not the only reason, and they might not have anything to do with being scolded or trying to unlearn anything. You’ll often see people annoyed by someone who is exactly like themselves, they just don’t have the self-awareness to perceive themselves the same way everyone else does, or they are in denial about the way they come across.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Shadow personality is actually the Jungian terminology, but basically everything Jung did could be described as needlessly mystical.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, but I doubt a TikTokker who was explaining this as simplistically as described has actually read Jung anyway.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Oh, absolutely not. Frankly, this smacks of one of those pseudo-occultist positivity cult books or articles, like The Secret or whatnot- I think the Tiktokker got it from there. I was just (affectionately) remarking on Jung’s own penchant for needless mysticism.

    5. 653-CXK*

      I would take any advice from TikTok with a huge grain of salt.

      Most of the posts on there are pure clickbait, and some of them could be extremely sketchy, venturing into outright scams. If some TikTok theory seems too good to be true, it probably is.

    6. jane's nemesis*

      I think there can be all kinds of reasons that different personalities can trigger immediate/intense dislike. For me, I am very very annoyed by narcissistic tendencies in my colleagues and especially in bosses – but this isn’t because of a shadow personality thing, it’s because my parents were emotionally neglectful narcissists and I am easily upset by those traits.

    7. Maggie*

      Yes what others point out as flaws in others is what they dislike about themselves, I know I do this

  38. Julia*

    I have a unique situation. A few weeks ago I asked my employer for a promotion. A key member recently left and they decided it’s the right time to promote me. My promotion is approved but I don’t know the compensation details yet. Heeding to some of the advice on this thread I discussed salary – but the answer was it’s in the works. I went ahead and stated my expectations.
    Parallely I interviewed with another firm and I have pretty great offer in terms of comp. If my current employer gives me a raise in accordance to my expectations I would prefer staying with my current employer. However I don’t know the comp details yet and the deadline to accept the other offer is coming close

    Do I simply let go of my employer without understanding numbers and choose the other offer?
    I’m uncomfortable divulging information that I have another offer because I myself asked for the promotion and got it. Also not to mention if I leave the team would really be in trouble.
    Any good way to handle this situation without burning bridges at current firm?

    1. Purple Cat*

      Choosing to leave a company does NOT equal burning bridges.
      Be up front and firm about what you need.
      “I need to know the compensation details, I have another offer, and while I’d like to stay here, I need to do what’s best for my career”.
      Hopefully, they just haven’t gotten to you out of laziness because there’s no deadline (in their minnd). Worst case they want you to start doing the new role without paying you for it.
      I don’t understand the hesitation in telling them about the offer – they’re going to figure that out if you quit. And I think it’s better to give them a chance to match or beat the offer to keep you.

      1. irene adler*

        Instead of “I have another offer … ” might substitute “I need to make some plans”.

      2. Anon attorney*

        I’ve been in this position, and I just told my employer that I had an offer, I would prefer to stay, but I needed to know what was on the table. They sorted themselves out and made an offer quickly. I accepted and stayed for several more years. It was all completely civilized.

        It’s not unreasonable to ask them to give you a number, and if you don’t like the package it’s also not unreasonable to leave for the new position. That’s business. Providing you behave professionally and don’t leave them a message in cod, no bridges need to be harmed in the making of this transition.

    2. BRR*

      I would start by going back to your current employer and ask them when salary will be determined. If you’ve already been promoted and are in the new position, I would press them hard on getting a number now.

      But not matter what you’re not burning a bridge. People leave jobs, it’s a fact of life. This is their fault because they’re not giving your salary information. Also it’s not your problem that your team would be in trouble. If you got hit by a bus they’d find a way to make it work and if you leave for another job they’ll find a way to make it work.

  39. Skye*

    A fun week – boss announced furloughs for everyone on Wednesday and today is our last day. I fortunately have a second job that I can gear up into full-time (I’m still going to apply for unemployment in the meantime) but for some this was their only job and it just really sucks.

    1. Boss*

      More furloughs? I thought those times were over. Are companies starting to furlough/lay off again?

  40. Greta*

    Is it normal to be a little unwilling to take on extra work? Background: I have been with my company a year and a half and my client load is just as big as others in the lower levels. However, I seem to get my work done early, do it well, and am performing excellently according to my boss. However, there are others on the team that due to their own poor time management, are so behind on their work. They step away to take care of their older (16/22) kids, step away to make dinner, step away to do laundry, etc. Then, their to do list is three pages long and they’re behind. So, I inevitably get looped in to help them. No extra pay, no nothing, just a “ thanks” and a lot of extra work. I’m starting to not say when I’m out of things to do, because I don’t want to have work piled on me and bail out the people not doing theirs. I understand it’s a reputation booster, but in the past when I’ve tried to curry that booster into raises, new positions, etc. it’s denied every time. What do you all think?

    1. Attractive Nuisance*

      Hella normal. Been there. No reason to go above and beyond if there’s no reward.

    2. Gracely*

      Totally normal, and reasonable to not want to do extra when it’s just a time management issue on the coworkers’ part. If someone’s struggling because they’ve been out sick or dealing with a loss/etc., then it’s better to step in and help, but I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to do more work for no benefit.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Right, if you’re able to finish all your own tasks well, you’d want “stretch” assignments to help you advance your career / raise your profile in the organization – not just picking up slack that’s at or below your current level. Can you pro actively volunteer for something more interesting that then gives you plausible deniability on picking up coworker slack?

    4. Purple Cat*

      It’s not “normalized” but it should be!
      The key is that you haven’t been able to translate that into higher pay or a promotion in the past. Since yiou’re still relatively new at this company, look around and focus on who IS getting the promotions. And talk to your boss about what it takes. Often, it’s not doing “more” of “Contributor Level” work, it’s proving that you can think strategically about “manager” work.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, one of the career books I read was about how promotion opportunities often come from working “outside the lines” – it’s frustrating but you can do your own job amazingly and not be considered leadership material compared to taking on some stretch/niche work and showing how great your potential is. Obviously, there can be a lot of gender and race etc stuff that play into this.

  41. Govt Widow?*

    Folks with white collar experience in local/municipal government – how many hours a week do you work on average? I think my husband’s city is taking advantage of him but he thinks 50+ is normal for the field.

    My husband is an assistant city manager and he has late meetings 1-2 times every week, plus he goes in on Saturdays once a month or so to catch up on paperwork. His job also offers zero flexibility to come in late after a late meeting (he got home at 10:30 last night and left for work at 7), he can’t work from home, and it’s a hassle to take his sick/vacation time. Is this normal? I (academia/non-profit) would be advocating for more staff if he truly has that much work to do, but he says that’s not an option in municipal govt.

    1. One to find the Giraffe*

      If he were a regular municipal employee, I would assume that 40 hours would be standard, or even 35. But for a city manager I imagine the rules are different. (I say this is a state government employee, though, not a city one.) What leaps out at me in your comment is that there’s no flexibility. It makes perfect sense that there would often be late meetings that a city manager would have to attend — in my small town all of the committee meetings are after dinner so that citizens can attend — but since that’s a regular part of the job, I’m surprised there’s no ability to shift hours to compensate. If I were him that’s what I would investigate.

    2. Gracely*

      I mean, he could try approaching members of the city council* and seeing if they could pass something that would give him some more flexibility, or a new part-time staff person, perhaps.

      A city manager is going to have a lot of hours, but for the predictable stuff (like council meetings), he should either be able to go in late the same morning or the morning after. If the position is salaried, though, that’s probably because it’s the kind of job where you’re just expected to work the hours needed, be they 35/week or 50/week.

      *I have a sibling on the city council of his town, and he said this is worth asking the council members; whether or not it gets traction will be city-dependent. And he needs to weigh whether or not it would piss off the city manager, who he presumably answers to.

      1. HBJ*

        Yes, this highly depends on the city. The local governments I’ve been involved with would never have the elected council members get involved with staff issues. The council hires the manager and then the manager hires the asst. and dept. heads, and then they hire their staff and so on.

    3. Generic Name*

      Let’s say that every single person you asked this question told you that, “Yes, your husband’s workload is normal” would that make you happy about how much time your husband is at work? I’m assuming you’re telling your husband that you’d like to spend more time with him, and he’s telling you “sorry, gotta work”. I think it’s time to have a conversation about priorities and how your family and your careers fit into how you want your life to look. I think it’s common for men especially to want to make as much money “for the family” and it’s also common for families to care more about time together than more money. If you have a frank conversation with your husband and you tell him that you will support him in a career or a job that makes less money in exchange for more time with him, and he says (or his actions convey) that he’d rather be at the office (or wherever he is actually at), that is important information for you to have.

      1. CG*

        Yes, this!!! Whether this is normal or not, this does appear to be how your husband’s job works or at least how your husband works in his job. If you feel like there’s a problem there that’s impacting his health or happiness or your relationship, that’s the thing to talk to him about! Otherwise, well, some jobs are more than 9-5. (I work in federal and not state government, and his hours sound totally normal to me!)

    4. Paris Geller*

      I have spent my entire career in municipal government and my father was a municipal government employee for 35+ years, so I can definitely speak to my experience/observations.

      Not being able to work from home–So my municipal government does let some employees work from home on occasions, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal if the city your husband works for doesn’t, as there may be security and/or personal information concerns, especially since he has a high-level job.

      -hours: I’m a professional employee and I work 39 hours a week. In my experience, typically salaried employees will work between 38-44 hours a week depending on their role and job duties. An assistant city manager is high on the hierarchy chart, so I don’t think some 50+ hour weeks are unreasonable, but if it’s every week, that’s definitely more than typical in my experience. I also agree that the lack of being able to flex his time is very odd. What is the org chart of the city government–does he answer to the head city manager or city council? Personally, I would expect an assistant city manager to be able to set his own hours (within reason) and decide on his own PTO. It sounds like he’s being managed much more closely than any assistant city manager I’ve worked under.

      It’s also weird to me that he says more staff is not an option in municipal government. Yes, there’s generally a longer process to adding more staff than in the private sector (personally, the cities I’ve worked for only allow additional staff positions to be added twice a year–once at the beginning of a fiscal year and sometimes, in dire circumstances, during the mid-year review), but as an assistant city manager, I would expect that he would be one of the few positions in a place of authority to advocate for more staff if needed! Generally, directors of departments and assistant city managers are the ones who can propose adding staff and taking that before city council.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Longtime local govt employee here. 50+ hours for an ACM is on the high side but not unusual. CMs and ACMs tend to be workaholics in my experience. But there should be flexibility about things like coming in late after a night meeting, taking off Wednesday afternoons to coach softball, etc. ACMs are often (not always) expected to participate in community life to some extent so obviously you have to have some time to do that. He needs to sit down with his boss and discuss the actual expectations of someone in the position, and he can feel comfortable knowing that many/most people in an ACM role have day to day schedule flexibility within reason. (ICMA probably has some resources around this topic because burnout is real in this profession).
      All that said, maybe this is more of a marriage issue and that’s also a discussion you two should have, informed by what he learns in a frank conversation with his boss. This particular job or industry may not be conducive to family life as you once had envisioned it.

    6. HBJ*

      For an asst. manager, that sounds pretty normal to me. I think he should be able to flex his hours to some degree, but at this high of a level, I think it’s pretty expected and presumably his pay is commensurate with that.

      The meetings are sooooo normal, so so normal. The council/assembly/governing body is going to have evening public meetings. In my experience, there’s a meeting every other week plus a work session every other week, meaning one public meeting/work session a week just for council/assembly, not including various boards and committees that the asst manager might not always have to go to but occasionally need to. That’s just the way it is in government with the public process and that part of it will never ever change.

      I’ve seen local government expand from having no asst. manager (just the manager and then dept. heads below that) to creating an asst. manager position. The asst. manager and the manager still went to all the meetings. Every job description I’ve ever seen for a manager, asst. manager or dept. head literally spells out “required to attend xyz meetings.”

      *source – I’ve attended hundreds of local government meetings for multiple bodies in my own line of work.

  42. Frustrating Client*

    I’m a mid-level transactional associate at a BigLaw firm. We have had a client for ages that has a large national presence and thus has a robust in-house legal department. Because of that, they do a lot of work themselves, which is fine! Why pay me to do it when you have Me But Cheaper there. But the problem is that they are SO protective of the work, that they will not share drafts with us, won’t let us know if they’ve revised documents, won’t let us control signature pages. Even more frustrating, they do let us control ~15% of the documents, so we are running those documents but can’t speak to any of the others when we’re dealing with opposing counsel. For decades they’ve worked with basically one lawyer and this setup worked for everyone, but now that lawyer is retiring and the new team we’re building around them is not meshing with their unusual way of doing things (I very much include myself in that, I was crying out of frustration with them last week).

    So, I have two questions:
    1. Does anyone have experience with helping move a reluctant client into a more standard way of doing things?
    2. And if that doesn’t work, does anyone have experience with dealing with one client who requires their work to be done in a way that is so off-model from the standard? Any advice for not getting frustrated with having to change how I work for just one client?

    1. Rain In Spain*

      I find myself on the other side of this- I’m the in house person and I find that our outside firm doesn’t communicate enough with me! hah!

      You may have success in setting up a meeting to discuss the best way to streamline processes/reviews to conserve everyone’s time and limited resources. You should definitely explain what the old/typical process was, and point out some of the issues and see what solution(s) they have to offer.

      I think my question is whether you actually need to be involved with the stuff they are handling in house? For example, if I hand something off to outside counsel, I direct all communications to them (including any drafts/former drafts/pending redlines/etc). I have also given them (standard) guidance re standard business considerations/preferences to incorporate when they are negotiating on our behalf to make it easier for all of us. Sometimes outside counsel will come to me with questions, and I of course respond/work with them to the extent needed, but otherwise I stay out of it! I would find it intrusive if they kept trying to insert themselves in things I’m handling that I didn’t ask them to be involved with.

      My issue centers more around failure to communicate with me when things are finished and getting me copies of all of the executed documents. So really it all boils down to communication. I would just tell opposing counsel that client is handling documents xyz themselves and you are working with them on a and b and try to let that frustration go. If you are frustrated it seems likely that your client may be as well, and so clearing the air/scope might be a good way to reset here.

      1. Frustrating Client*

        This is helpful! I’m not senior enough to have the “hey let’s have a meeting” conversation, but I will definitely suggest it to the senior people on this deal.

        I definitely don’t want to insert myself needlessly in stuff they can handle, but the problem is that I can’t tell what is ours to handle. I mentioned that there was this small subsection of documents that my firm drafted and we discussed with the client that we would coordinate getting signatures for those documents since they were under our control. I sent over the packet today and our contact said “oh, we already signed most of these.” So even when we had a plan, it still ended up wrong, and defeated the purpose of saving them money because our paralegal spent an hour putting together that packet. That’s what I really want to avoid in the future – I don’t want to step on their toes, but I really need to know where their toes are.

        (Hanging over all of this is that this is the first time ever that this client has sold any of their properties, so they have been (understandably!) discombobulated by being on the other side, so that hasn’t helped things)

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Ditto Rain in Spain. I would set up a meeting and specifically address how these inefficiencies are costing both parties way too much time ($$). Bring suggested solutions to the meeting but be open to hearing why they are being reluctant to work the way you prefer.

  43. Floris*

    How did you realize a job wasn’t right for you? Did you do a pro/con list? Was it a gut feeling? Was there one thing that felt totally off or was it a collection of red flags?

    I tend to talk myself out of things a lot + overthink things and generally have a very hard time trusting my gut. If I’ve been unhappy at a job, it’s hard for me to tell whether the issues are legitimate or if it’s just my anxiety brain acting up. I’ve talked through things with friends, family, and a therapist but I just can’t seem to recognize if it’s me or the job.

    1. Gracely*

      Have you had similar issues in previous jobs? If so, it might be you. But if this is new, or if the things that are bothering you are new to this job, it might be the job.

      Either way, it sounds like maybe you should be job hunting.

      1. Floris*

        This is an issue that has come up in one other job where I wasn’t sure about the fit. I did end up leaving that job after 8 months for another position I was really happy with. Leaving came down to a combination or work load and an environment where everything was considered an emergency but it was really difficult to finally recognize that the fit wasn’t right. In other roles, the fit felt good but there would be a natural point where I would start job searching (an entry level position that I had outgrown, moving into a role that was more aligned with what I wanted to be doing, etc.)

    2. jane's nemesis*

      Gut feeling, and it was realizing a few days in that my new supervisor was a completely unreasonable person and would be a nightmare to work for – she was so different than she had presented herself in interviews. That was my “one thing.”

      For other jobs, it’s usually been an increasing feeling of boredom/ennui/desire for change, which still boils down to a gut feeling.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        (It took me nearly 3 years to get out of that job, and every interaction with my boss reinforced that my gut feeling had been correct.)

    3. fueled by coffee*

      I’d also suggest thinking about how things could be different in a new job in ways that would help make things better.

      For example, my first post-college job was a 7am-4pm workday, and I was constantly exhausted from having to wake up so early (and the stress about needing to be up at 5:30am led me to start having trouble *falling* asleep, which compounded the mental health issues). When my next job started at a more humane 8:30, I was AMAZED at how much more energy I had, even though I was doing similar work for the same number of hours each week. So the issue was me and my circadian rhythm, but it was fixable with a structural change.

      So, are there things like working hours, WFH options, flex time, etc. that would make your work experience better? Is it something about the tasks you’re doing that you are unhappy with? Is it a personality clash with particular coworkers? Being understaffed? I’d think about whether there are specific things that would make your work experience feel even just a little bit better, and then job search with that in mind.

      Obviously this runs the risk of a “grass is greener” situation, but if you try to think through what would make your job experience better and are coming up short, that might be a sign that anxiety is to blame.

      1. Floris*

        Thank you! This is very helpful advice. I think in my current role, it’s an issue with personality. Our leadership seems to thrive on chaos and everything feels like an emergency so we’re trying to put out a lot of fires at all times. The politics between departments also seems very intense and there’s a sense we have to tip toe around things often. I prefer environments where folks are more collaborative and open about discussing issues/making changes that benefit everyone.

    4. Gnome*

      Any job could be fine, but not a good job for you. There might be nothing wrong with an office, but if you are an introvert in a sea of extroverts (or vice versa) you could end up with a bad fit… As one example.

      So, the questions are: are the things bothering you things that you can live with? Are they temporary? Are they likely to change? Could they change with some work, and if so, are you willing and able to do that work or lead others to do it?

      You need not question if it’s “ok” to not be happy. You need to decide what, if anything, it means for you.

    5. Wordybird*

      I’m a hardcore INFJ so yes, I definitely trust my intuition above all else… but I’m also a 1 on the Enneagram so I know that I have to be practical and reasonable, too. :)

      I’ve taken the time to figure out what is truly a dealbreaker for me (micromanaging, unethical behavior or practices, public/customer-facing work, and being part of a department-of-one or a department that rarely interacts with the rest of the company) and what isn’t. Do I want to work for an organization that is social justice-focused, has unlimited PTO, and pays for most or all of my insurance premiums? Yes. Do I have to work for a company like that to still be productive and happy with my work? No.

      My employer generally respects me, I’m good at what I do, I’m fairly compensated, and the field does improve the world so I can deal with the rest until those things either change or I feel compelled to seek out a change. I’m at an age where I’m not sure my “dream job” exists or will materialize for me & I’m not someone who necessarily finds validation or worth in working so I go to work and do my best but make sure my life is full of other things that bring me validation and worth (and joy, too).

  44. matcha123*

    People who grew up with unusual family circumstances, how do you navigate new workplaces and coworkers?

    I started at a new office last month and my coworkers have been very friendly and open about topics such as family and other experiences. I engage with them to a certain extent about those topics, but I can tell they are interested in hearing from me, rather then me deflecting and turning topics back to them.

    The challenge I face is that my family background is unusual in a number of ways and people from more “traditional” backgrounds tend to pull back and at times use my background against me.
    People from “traditional” backgrounds (two married parents, large-ish extended family, upper-middle class background, etc.) what’s up with treating people from untraditional backgrounds badly?

    People from those backgrounds, how do you navigate work?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      One of the things to remember about Homo sapiens is that we killed our congeners as an evolutionary strategy (contrast Homo neanderthalis, who used a different of the four Fs when faced with other members of the genus). This is not to say that we aren’t more than our evolutionary/animal instincts, and as sentient beings in a society I would argue that people are obligated to get those instincts under control or get kicked out, but it is an instinct for people to create an “in-group” and react violently to those outside of it and it does get worse when that in-group has more societal power than the out-group. If it helps, when people do that just imagine them in doofy cavemen outfits failing to make fire- they have failed to grow beyond their evolutionary origins.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        For what it’s worth, Neanderthal genes exist in the modern human genome.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          That’s what I meant by “a different of the four Fs,” actually! I felt Alison might have objected to me saying something more along the lines of “contrast Homo neanderthalis, whose strategy was to roll up on a flintstones motorcycle and waggle their eyebrows at them” even if it is funnier to put it that way.

    2. Generic Name*

      Are you fairly young? I don’t really talk about my parents or sibling at the office all that much, to be honest. I mean, I mention “parents” or “sibling” in passing, but that’s kind of it? Or I’ll talk about going to visit or family being in town? It’s all pretty generic, and if anyone I’ve ever worked with was raised by 2 dads or a thruple, I wouldn’t know about it because that kind of detail has never come up. As in I don’t say, “my parents, who are two people a generation older than me who are opposite sex and of the same race and religion”. I just say “my parents”. If you were raised in foster care, or by other relatives, or by anything different than 2 married people, I think it’s fine to default to “parents” to refer to any of these scenarios.

      1. matcha123*

        I’m in my late-30s. Since I work abroad and work with other foreigners, conversations about visiting family, missing family, having kids, marriage, etc. are pretty common topics. I’m sure they are common back home, too.
        When different members of my team talk fondly about their families and so on, I don’t want to give a dry reply and turn around. I’m happy to listen to them talk and think of kind replies. But I also have sensed that they would like to know more about my background (but aren’t pushing for information because they are polite). I would personally be happy to share, but, the reactions I’ve gotten from people in the past make me reluctant.

        No crazy (imo) stories, just a string of “that sucks” kind of events.

    3. GlazedDonut*

      I answer the questions that are asked. “Does your dad live in the same town as you?” Yes.
      Nothing more. I don’t need to elaborate on our relationship. I can add a little if I want to “Yes, my whole family lives here–who would have thought I’d stay too!” and then move on.
      I try to share more about the parts of my life I don’t mind sharing–my gardening, my pets, etc. I’d like to think sharing those things makes up for the non-sharing of family things.

    4. RagingADHD*

      People don’t treat others badly because of a difference in family background. They treat people badly because they are bullies. Bullies come from every background, and they will use any excuse that makes their target emotionally vulnerable.

      Depending on what the circumstances are, others who are just very sheltered may pull back if there’s a lot of emotional complexity or trauma in the situation and they don’t know what to say or how to engage with it.

      I agree with others that childhood circumstances just don’t seem to come up in conversation often. I’d also add that the wider circle of family / generations you know, and the more different families you know, the more you realize that there are messy, complicated, or unconventional households somewhere in every family.

      1. matcha123*

        Your last sentence is pretty much how I was raised. I grew up with classmates from diverse racial and family backgrounds. Some who experienced the death of parents or siblings at a young age, others who experienced physical abuse, and so on. I find myself very comfortable with such diversity.
        But, at work, I’ve found that many more of my coworkers tend to come from similar family backgrounds and operate on the assumption that their coworkers are also coming from similar backgrounds.

        That’s not to say that I roll into work on the first day talking about trauma and abuse or anything like that! It means that I tend not to ask questions about another person’s family unless they specifically mention something, like a sibling.

        In other areas, this may be something like a driver’s license (which I’ve never gotten). I will say that I grew up in an area with good public transportation, which is true. But I get a lot of weird reactions. I’m not ashamed of not having a license, and I live in a city where I don’t need a car to get around.
        I don’t know if there’s a way to reply to such topics in a work setting that doesn’t get me placed into a “weirdo” box.

        Just many minor incidents like the above, which would not stand out if it were just the one, but it happens even with innocent topics like some pop culture references (tv shows, movies) and kind of kills the “getting to know you better” mood. And from there, in some cases, I get the feeling the discomfort on the side of the other party unconsciously turns into a lack of faith in my abilities. Or an unwillingness/hesitation to get to know me better…which leads to me missing out opportunities because the other party wasn’t feeling a connection.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, if you can’t connect with the topic at hand, are you offering a different way to connect? If someone just drops the conversational ball with a thud, of course it affects people’s people perception of them as a colleague.

          There are lots of ways for weirdos to still be good conversationalists. In facts, some of the most charming people I know are weirdos.

          Or maybe this set of folks are just really hidebound and lived their whole life in a bubble, so they have limited social skills.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I don’t think stuff as simple as not having a driver’s licence would place you in the “weirdo” box. Pretty much everybody you work with probably has SOMETHING on those lines. I would consider myself to be from a VERY “traditional” background – two parents together, no childhood trauma, all three of us got good grades and went to college, etc – but even there, I never got a driver’s licence either. I grew up on benefits (admittedly, not at all unusual in 1980s Ireland where there was at one point something like 20% unemployment, but I think the way I speak and stuff tends to have people assume my background was more upper-middle class!), I am an incredibly picky eater, I don’t drink… I think those things fall into the slight quirk that makes people interesting category more than anything else.

          Among my colleagues, I have people with all kinds of quirks and family backgrounds. Found out recently that one of my colleagues used to be a Christian Brother (sort of like a monk). A couple of people have had drama with exes and stuff like that. Some people had less than ideal family backgrounds (this perhaps comes up more often in teaching than it would in an office as people mention it in relation to the kids, reminding others to be aware of such issues). Some people have had mental health problems.

          I do think sometimes people do operate on the assumption others are from the same background as them, just because a lot of people assume their background is the norm. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will judge if others are from a different background. I have had people at work make comments that assume I grew up middle class or above, things like “some of our students might have nobody working at home!!”

          I will add that I have a colleague who has mentioned quite a few things that indicate a somewhat non-traditional background and I certainly don’t think anybody would doubt her abilities. She is amazing at her job and everybody appears to recognise her as such. I can’t imagine why anybody would doubt somebody’s abilities because they come from a different background. If anything, having some difficulties in one’s background would imply greater ability

        3. PollyQ*

          First, I absolutely agree that people who are treating you badly because of your family background are Bad People, full stop. I’m also not sure how much of this judgment is in your head, maybe because you’re a little insecure yourself.

          But I do wonder if what might help you is just some better small talk skills, which can be a simple as answering their question, “Actually, I don’t drive” and then asking them a semi-related question, “But are you planning any road trips this summer?” People LOVE to talk about themselves, and as long as the flow of the conversation continues, they don’t necessarily care so much what’s being said.

        4. Attractive Nuisance*

          I mean this in the nicest way possible… if you get weird reactions from people when you talk about your family, and about not having a driver’s license, and about pop culture, is it possible they’re reacting to your conversational style and not your differences?

          It sounds like you are very fixated on the differences between yourself and others and very convinced that others see you as a “weirdo”. Even if your coworkers come from similar backgrounds, and even if they assume you come from a similar background, that doesn’t mean they are going to have a strong reaction to learning something new about you.

          I used to be very anxious about allowing people to learn about me, especially the parts of me that are Different, and it made me very socially awkward. I had a few sessions of therapy in which I realized that I was interpreting other people’s normal surprised and interested reactions as bad reactions, and behaving accordingly, and therefore making people (including myself) uncomfortable, and therefore making future interactions less likely and less meaningful, and therefore making myself feel like an outcast. Once I became ok with talking about myself, I was able to develop some really wonderful friendships with those same people I thought were freezing me out. I’m not trying to diagnose or say for certain this is what’s happening to you – but I think it’s worth interrogating what you are assuming about how people feel about you, and how those assumptions are shaping your behavior.

          1. matcha123*

            It’s possible! But, to use the driving example, I’ve had similar conversations with countless people throughout my life. And I’ve found a way of explaining why I don’t have a license in a way that’s friendly. I can make the same statement in a group and while four people will say, “Oh, interesting” and carry on with the conversation, there is sometimes one person who just keeps pushing it and trying to frame me as strange.

            In a non-work setting it’s annoying. But in a work setting, the person who tries to frame (using the license as an example) my lack of driving skills as an issue tends to be someone who ends up challenging my abilities in other, non-related, work areas. Sometimes the person is a direct supervisor, sometimes they are a colleague with more years in the office than me.
            Generally these interactions come from people who are older than I am, but not always.

            I do like my new office and the people have been very kind. I am afraid of falling into a repeat of what I’ve experienced at my old office and other places I’ve worked at. Where unfortunately, one person with more influence picks on my differences as a reason for why I can’t do my job well, and the other people who could care less about whether or not I have a license (to use that example) sit by and then start to agree with said person.

            As an aside, I am slow to open up to people. To counter that, I greet people as I pass them in the hallways, try to position my body so I don’t look closed off, accept invitations to lunches, and so on.

            I guess my worries and frustrations are rooted in experiences where one person decides that something about me, that’s not related to my ability to properly do my job, is in fact a major issue that must affect my work.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Given that the person who tries to frame it as an issue also finds other issues, it sounds like those just might be people who are looking for something to criticise, either because that’s just the type of person they are (some people like to put others down) or because they have some issue with you (like they are jealous of you or just have a personality clash with you or whatever). I rather doubt it’s caused by the fact you don’t drive – that would be very weird on THEIR part. It’s more likely that they would pick on anything and if you had a “tradtional” upbringing and a driving licence, they would pick on one little mistake you made in your work or your dress sense or your accent or anything that marked you out as different.

              Everybody has something and honestly, from what you have said, it sounds like your differences are no more than average and are perhaps even less. If they pick on such a minor difference as not having a driving licence, I reckon they are going to find SOMETHING. It’s an issue with them, not you.

              I do think you are worrying too much. If people pick on one little thing like that and decide you can’t do your job properly, then…well, frankly, there isn’t much you can do about it. They could just as easily decide they don’t like your dress sense and decide that means you aren’t good at your job or base it on the way you speak or your writing or anything else utterly ridiculous. And that is going to be the same for everybody, regardless of background. A person from a traditional background might just as easily not have a driver’s licence or they could have something like a mental illness or an addiction or even something like they might not drink or they might have food issues or be part of a minority religion. Everybody has something that could be seen as “making them different” and if these people are looking for a reason to decide somebody can’t do their work unless they fit the norm in every way, well, it’s going to apply to virtually every one of their coworkers.

              I think your best bet is to ignore these people unless they are your direct supervisor, in which case, I’d just work at showing them you can do your job. I don’t think there is any way you can avoid mentioning ANYTHING anybody might see as strange, because heck, not drinking could be seen as strange, drinking could be disapproved of if they belong to certain religions. Having children could be seen as problematic, NOT having children could be seen as weird. Appearing to be from an upp-middle class background might make people think you wouldn’t need the job as badly and therefore mightn’t work as hard. Appearing to be from a working class background might make somebody think you wouldn’t be familiar with white collar norms. I don’t think there is any way of avoiding mentioning anything anybody might be prejudiced against as people have the WEIRDEST prejudices. Heck, just being younger than somebody might make them think you inexperienced or being older might make them think you out of touch.

              I will say I have never had anybody openly judge me for not driving. Yeah, I’ve had a few people think it a bit weird and maybe ask “and did you ever drive?” but once I laugh and say something along the lines of “I just live in too convenient a place. Makes it too easy not to bother,” well…the only hassle I get is some people who keep nagging me that I should learn. “You should learn. Book lessons now over the summer holidays!” But nobody has changed their view of my ability at work. It may be a cultural thing, of course, but it may also be just that those people were out to judge you anyway and would have acted like you weren’t good at your work regardless, just because they want to make themselves feel good by acting like they know best.

            2. PollyQ*

              I stand by my original opinion that people who do this are Bad People, and I’m sorry that you seem to have run into multiples of them. It sounds like your current colleagues aren’t like that, so hopefully they won’t pull that kind of [bovine excrement]. However, you may want to keep some more assertive scripts in your pocket in case this happens again. e.g.,

              “I’m perfectly content with my transportation choices.”

              “Why do you care so much about whether I drive?”

              “It’s a little weird that you care so much about whether I drive.”

              “I don’t understand — what do my driving habits have to do with the TPS reports? If there’s a problem with the reports, let’s talk about that, but I don’t see how my personal transportation choices are relevant.”

    5. irene adler*

      They are interested in your/your family as they realize it is impolite to always talk about themselves. So when you deflect by turning the topic back to them, they want to do the polite thing and give you space to talk about your family, etc. If you are not wanting to share about family stuff, might have ready other topics of interest to you: hobbies, interests, travel/vacations/experiences, etc.

      I used to talk a bit about my bro who worked in the gov’t and traveled to all kinds of places. So I always had interesting stories to relate (like the time Hillary Clinton’s entourage was paintball bombed in Manilla or how he was tasked with renting every vehicle from all the local car rental agencies when Nelson Mandela passed away.).

      However, he’s now in prison. For the rest of his life. I do not want folks to know anything about this. So deflect, deflect, deflect.

    6. Purple Cat*

      I’m going to guess that you’re young, because I haven’t been asked about my “growing up” family in forever but for sure my “current” family is up for discussion.
      *most* people are looking for a connection and shared experiences – so think about the details you want to share and stick with that. Even better if you pivot the questions to your current situation and not how you grew up. Most people don’t want every single detail, and don’t care.
      If you have been bullied in the past, it’s because those people were bullies, not because you shared too much about being from the “wrong” background.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Talk to them about something else – they just want to get to know you. If they ask about kids – I don’t have any, but I love to [bake my own bread] – just last weekend I [added some interesting ingredient] and it turned out great. (This presumes you have some hobby you are willing to talk about.)

      I am from the traditional background you describe, and do talk about my family, but I do not treat people from other backgrounds badly – I’ll do me, you do you. (Now, if you are a fan of a rival sports team, well, that is a different story!)

    8. Joielle*

      I don’t necessarily have a nontraditional family, but I’m estranged from several family members for various reasons and it makes things messy. Over the years I’ve developed a little spiel for meeting new people which covers a couple of innocuous details and redirects the conversation a bit. Basically like – “I grew up in [state] and moved here for law school – always thought I might go back, but then I met my husband and bought a house and now I’ve been here a decade! I love [current city] though, I can’t wait for [some event coming up].” If someone asks about my family I just say we’re not too close. People tend not to pry after that.

    9. MiniPantherMom*

      I think it can be helpful to remember that we all have schemas based on our individual and cultural experiences. Our schemas help us interpret and understand the world as well as cause us to have expectations for experiences. On your team, it sounds like the expectation is to talk about one’s family of origin and my guess is that is because a majority of your teammates come from a background that emphasizes the importance of one’s family of origin. I’m guessing that they also have and expect others to have close-knit family relationships as well. While it’s not bad that this is their schema, you can help them grow their mindset by pushing back on this expectation. I’ve worked on teams where people frequently talk about spouses and kids, but not parents. People may not want to discuss their family of origin at work for all kinds of reasons (professionalism, keeping boundaries between personal and private life, abuse, etc.). It is good for your team to learn that not everyone wants to openly discuss their family of origin at work and may actually find it unprofessional to do so. You are teaching them new ways to look at things and that can be painful when there is an established culture of this behavior. If you’re asked a question about your family that you don’t want to answer, you can simply say, “I prefer to keep a boundary between my work and personal life. I don’t discuss my family of origin at work.” You may have to be patient and persistent in holding that line or look to more professional voices for better wording.

  45. Help!*

    Question about an ethical dilemma: I’m trying to get a permanent position at the govt agency I’m currently a contractor for. Positions are rare and highly competitive. I have a friend who also used to be a contractor, and had asked me many months back to tell her when a specific permanent position opened up. It’s currently open, but I don’t think she knows bc she doesn’t check the govt website regularly. The problem is, if she applies to this position, for many reasons, she’ll almost definitely get it and I won’t. Am I being horrible if I don’t tell her it’s open?

    1. urguncle*

      I think it would be one thing if the position was one that you were not interested in, unqualified for or otherwise not in direct competition with this person. As it stands, it sounds like you’d like the position, you’re otherwise qualified and (unlike her) you regularly check up on the site. She’s not paying you to keep an eye out and you don’t work for the agency that is hiring. Everyone misses opportunities for one reason or another. In this case, she’s not checking what I assume is a public-facing job board.

    2. Miss the Office*

      I don’t see this as an ethical question at all. You have no obligation to let your friend know about this. I agree with the other commenter that keeping an eye out is something nice to do but not a requirement. Do what will benefit you here.

    3. AllTheBirds*

      Agree strongly with the two responses above.

      If she really wanted a job at that agency, she’d be searching their website! Go for it.

    4. Bogey*

      If the person is a good friend, are you willing to lose the friendship if you get the position and they find out later?

      1. Tuesday*

        Yeah, this. I don’t think you’re obligated to tell her, but she did ask you to tell her when the position opened up. She’ll probably feel hurt and betrayed if you get the job.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Why would you be responsible for telling her when the position opens up?
      I would never expect that of a friend – especially if it’s something they want for themselves.
      You’re definitely not horrible, but it seems like she’s not quite a reasonable person, so there may be fallout.

    6. PollyQ*

      IDK, I don’t think you’d be “horrible” for not telling her, but OTOH, you did say you would. (At least, I’m assuming that, reading between the lines.) You probably will lose the friendship if she finds out later.

    7. Gnome*

      Did you agree when she asked you to tell her? That’s the one and only way you have any obligation here. If you did, then you should probably tell her… Or at least say something that indicates you wont be telling her. Like maybe, “Have you checked the site recently? I keep forgetting to.”

      It is worth considering what impact it might have if you get the position and she finds out you did NOt tell her. If she just asked you to in passing, it could legitimately be an “I didn’t think you were serious ” or “I forgot ” kind of thing. But if she made a big deal out of it AND you’ll have to keep working with her, consider what you know of her and how that might play out.

  46. Amtelope*

    Has anyone had any luck dealing with a team member who is way too intense about minor issues? I am a team lead for product creation. Our process involves products going through many, many revisions, with most products changing significantly from the original idea. In the process, we also fix problems with the product, and sometimes an attempted fix creates new problems that then need to be fixed. This is all very normal and part of a lengthy development and QA process.

    One of my team members takes this process MUCH too personally. If someone down the line changes the product significantly once her part of the process is over, she will argue with them every time rather than accepting that it’s not her decision anymore and she needs to let it go. If someone makes a mistake that creates a problem that needs to be fixed in the next round of review, she flips out — they’ve ruined “her” product!

    I need her to stop dumping feelings on me and other team members that are completely out of proportion to what’s actually happening. “This teapot now has a weird blue streak, I don’t think that’s intentional” is fine for her to say to the person responsible for choosing the teapot color. “This teapot OBVIOUSLY should have been green as I originally suggested, and it makes me furious to see what you’ve done to it. Clearly no one around here appreciates my work or considers my feelings” is not. How do I get her to dial down the drama?

    1. AllTheBirds*

      Maybe it’s as simple as presenting her with those 2 examples and having a discussion around it…?

    2. Professional Shopper*

      I think I praised my way out of something like this–I had an employee who would not stop complaining about the people before her in a process–she went to HR behind my back to complain, and they sent it back to me because the complaint was WILD nonsense.

      We had a conversation where I laid out how the process worked, and explained in detail that her part of the process was a part of a long process. Her actual job was to correct and standardize things, and the actual job of other team was to basically to collect the data only. I did a lot of praising of her specific skills and emphasized that we are a team and we work together to make teapots, we don’t individually make the teapots.

      I also emphasized that the other people would never be in trouble, disciplined or punished for anything she was complaining about, because it was specifically not their job. Her job was actually to do the review & entry of the teapot specs–even if they were submitted in lipstick on a napkin because she was my detail oriented experienced person and she was capable of handling this. I just did my best to tell her I appreciated her good work, I saw her good work, and nothing anyone else did was “bad” or “wrong” so her specific complaints were unfair to everyone trying to do a good job.

      TLDR: Praise her when she is reasonable, and remind her that nothing is going to happen to anyone if she continues to complain about people doing their jobs correctly. It worked…

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      One angle you can use is explaining that this makes them look amateur and inexperienced. Explain that being senior level involves being able to handle problems without getting completely emotional.

    4. Purple Cat*

      I’m sure this is common, but I only just saw this shirt this morning and it made me laugh.
      99 bugs in the code
      99 bugs in the code
      Take one down and patch it up
      108 bugs in the code

      I think one of the challenges is that she’s a peer, you’re not her manager. But you would be doing her a kindness to point out that her reactions are extreme, are alienating her to the rest of the team, and reflect poorly on her. Perhaps go over the entire process at a high-level with her so she understands where your role starts and ends. And then try to understand WHY she’s so worked up. Does she think it’s going to reflect poorly on her if “her” design changes drastically? Maybe in past jobs, she was held to the fire in sitautions like this, tht really wren’t her fault.
      Otherwise, since you don’t manager her. 1) Speak your concerns to her manager. 2) Use the advice from here to treat her like a unique species in a nature documentary. Adopt your British mind voice and think “ah, the peer has gotten worked up again. What shall happen next?” and keep detached from the situation.

    5. Gnome*

      As Team Lead, I think it’s worth taking time at a team meeting or with this person to lay out who does what, how the process is supposed to work, and normal expectations… And if you can why it is this way (better product in the long run, whatever). Then, when she starts emo-dumping, interrupt and say, “we discussed this before. This is how it’s supposed to work. This has nothing to do with your value/respect/whatever she’s going on about, this is the team following the process we use.”

      When it comes back up, you can say, “we spoke about this before. I need you to understand that this is not going to change and for you to accept that without complaining to me or others because it is becoming a distraction.”

      If that doesn’t work, it’s really just not a good fit

  47. Adequate Archaeologist*

    There’s been a bit of discussion about this before, but I’m wondering what stance people have on paying money up front for work then getting reimbursed later.

    I’m going on a field project and it was suggested that I take a company pick-up truck. I’m fine driving company vehicles but told my boss they would need to send a gas card with me if I were to do so. She replied saying that company vehicles don’t have a gas card so I would have to buy gas out of pocket then submit it for re-imbursement. I did the calculations and this would be something to the tune of $250 (conservatively). And I’m just not down for that, partially because my partner (who works for the same company) has recently had issues with accounting messing up over $1500 in expenses in the last 3 months and partially because I simply do not have room in my finances to add $250+ extra expenses. In nearly every other way the company is amazing, but they are super reluctant to give employees company cards or gas cards for work expenses. (They claim it was previously abused by employees so they stopped issuing cards as much, but I personally think it’s just corporate being stingy).

    I’m taking my personal vehicle this time, but that won’t always be an option in the future. I’m not sure how to nicely say “I refuse to pay for company fuel out of pocket” without coming across as kind of…out of touch? Does anyone have advice/opinion to share?

    1. Amtelope*

      Can you ask for an advance on your expenses as a check rather than getting a credit card? Our company won’t provide corporate cards, but they will give you an advance prior to travel if you request it. If you calculate the projected gas costs, see if they can issue you a check up front for the estimated amounts and then reconcile the amount over/under the estimate when you turn in the actual receipts.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I think Alison’s covered examples like this before about fronting costs. Typically what you do is go to your manager and state that you need some kind of company card.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      I have extremely strong feelings about this.

      I’m a grad student, and academia *loves* reimbursement culture despite paying us very little. I think there are two issues: (1) the amounts you are being asked to front and (2) how quickly the reimbursement goes through.

      For small amounts of money that get reimbursed quickly, I’m not that bothered. For example, I pay research participants $10 each to take a survey, and after submitting the receipts get a direct deposit within about 3 days. This is slightly annoying but ultimately fine; I’m never worried about a credit card bill that I won’t be able to pay.

      For small amounts of money that don’t get reimbursed quickly, I get more annoyed, because I’m not interested in providing interest free loans to my employer (whose endowment is basically a hedge fund at this point anyway).

      For large amounts of money, regardless of how quickly I get reimbursed, I really do feel that the university should front the money. My credit score has taken hits before because hotel rooms/equipment purchases/etc. mean that I’m charging too high a percent of my credit limit, and, on a more basic level, these purchases are just not in my budget. My department has helped a little (for example, letting us put some large purchases on the department credit card instead of our own cards), but I get very angry at having to front so much of my own money and then sit around waiting to get paid back.

      For you, I think the biggest issue to raise here is that accounting has messed up $1500 worth of expenses for another employee! You have past evidence that these reimbursements are not necessarily resolved in a timely manner, and for a decently large ($250!) expense, you can’t wait around for months to be reimbursed. I second amtelope’s suggestion that you ask for a check or ATM card to cover at least some of the anticipated expense if they are unwilling to issue a credit card.

    4. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      Could they roll fuel costs into your per diem? Or play mileage? Its not out of touch to say “you don’t pay me enough to put gas in YOUR car”

      That being said I used to work for a university run CRM firm that paid perdiem with a check often weeks after the fact. It was miserable because you’d have techs in the field who couldn’t afford to eat because they hadn’t gotten per diem in a month.

    5. By Golly*

      I agree with AllTheBirds. You might also let her know that her outsized reactions mean that people are less comfortable including her in discussions of fixes, and that they will reduce her influence on things that really DO matter.

    6. Maggie*

      How are you paying for fuel if you’re taking your personal car? Via mileage reimbursement?

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I’m confused how taking your own car resolves this for you. You still need the gas, right?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Gas costs for a fuel efficient personal car could be a lot lower than for a pickup truck.

          I work for an academic employer where they legally cannot give out credit cards, and we have to periodically travel and the way it’s handled is that when you put in the travel request form, there’s an entry for cash advance, along with an explanation about what you need it for. They’re also very fast with reimbursements, with a standard system for submitting expense reports. (Purchase of physical stuff goes through purchase orders, and plane tickets go through a travel agent, so this is mostly an issue for hotels, conference fees and the per diem).

    7. starfox*

      I am almost always down to pay for expenses with my credit card so I can get the points, but that is predicated on trusting the company to have the money back to me before the bill is due….

      I don’t think you’re going to sound out of touch for saying you won’t be able to foot the bill, at all! If anyone is out of touch, it’s the company for assuming that everyone is able to just drop $250 worth of expenses at any time.

    8. Gatomon*

      Corporate cards sure, I’ve definitely seen those get abused. But I haven’t seen gas cards abused. My experience with gas cards for company vehicles is that they literally only work for gas, and you have to enter the odometer reading at the pump before they dispense. My assumption is if you enter a wild number, or someone uses it later on and the odometer readings don’t make sense (for example: you bought 100 gallons but only put 5o miles on the vehicle?), that would get flagged. So while it’s probably not impossible to abuse a gas card, I bet it’s fairly rare that it goes on long. That is to say, their reasoning makes no sense to me for gas cards.

      The way my employers have always reimbursed for personal vehicle use was using the IRS mileage standards, but unless you have a hybrid or an older card that’s paid for, that may be a losing battle these days. I’d push back hard on corporate, especially with gas so expensive.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        Late thought — maybe suggest a prepaid “gift” card, preloaded with a certain amount. Would still have to show receipts, but there would be a built-in cap not a full credit line.

  48. Miss the Office*

    Question for those working in hybrid or all-remote workspaces (or anyone with ideas).

    It looks like my office is moving to get rid of our physical space. I for one am really sad about this (I know I’m not the norm and folks love working remote and not commuting). I was talking to my boss about this and the fact that what I miss most is the informal conversation and idea generation that comes from running into people in the kitchen or walking by someone’s open office door and having a five minute chat. She asked how we could replicate that virtually and I am stumped. Randomly calling someone on Teams feels so much more intrusive than just randomly walking by their office.

    Has anyone found a good solution for this in our growing remote world?

    1. urguncle*

      1- Is the company still planning on in-person gatherings a few times a year, either by department or in large groups? I work for a mostly remote company, but we’re easing back into encouraging in-person sessions every six months to a year so that people can have these kinds of discussions, and meeting someone face-to-face makes it a lot less difficult to just send them a Slack message a few weeks later to discuss something.
      2- We have daily ice-breakers in the main Slack channel. Ours are not work-related, but you could definitely find ones that are more work-related. That usually gets people interacting across departments (and in our case, across time zones) and can help to make it less imposing if someone just messages you out of the blue wanting to discuss something.

    2. Former Gremlin Herder*

      One thing that I saw success with was a Teams chat with a larger team where people started sharings things like their Wordle scores, how quickly they completed the NYT mini crossward (can you tell we’re a nerdy bunch?). At first it was just the scores, but over time it got a little more chatty, and just by default it seemed it wasn’t a place for work updates (though there were occasional exceptions.) It wasn’t the same as informal conversations, but it was a nice little thing!

      1. Miss the Office*

        Thanks. We do have a “Water Cooler” thread on our Teams but no one uses it, despite best efforts…. but maybe we could try promoting it again?

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Back when the pandemic started, my job set up a chat channel like this in Zoom. Management gave ground rules, but it’s supposed to be a non-work discussion place. (Some work stuff still gets posted, but more as an FYI.)

        It’s been a nice way to keep in touch and have those informal discussions. With emojis!

    3. WiscoKate*

      I saw someone somewhere mention having like “Virtual Office Hours” where people could just drop in and out as needed during set times. I am not sure about the logistics but it’s a thought.

      1. Miss the Office*

        We actually do this now (I’m part of the management team) and I have maybe 2 or 3 people show up each week usually about a specific question they have about something I oversee. But that’s still not the type of informal engagement we had before….

    4. GlazedDonut*

      I know some offices that have weekly standing Coffee Chats — everyone is invited and anyone who wants to show up can. It’s not a formal meeting, there’s no agenda, but it is a little time carved out to chat.

      1. OtterB*

        We do this once a week as a lunch via Zoom. In the before times, we did it in person in the conference room. It’s a chance to say, how was your vacation? What college did your daughter settle on? What happened with project X?

        There’s also a once-a-month happy hour via Zoom. Same general purpose, overlapping but not identical set of people.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I’ve found that you can’t really be spontaneous about it, so you have to be deliberate. Suggest that anyone who wants to chitchat should join staff meetings 5 minutes early. Schedule the occasional lunch or coffee call. (And as for calling people on teams, we just IM first to ask if the person is free for a call.)

    6. SallyToo*

      I’ve got a couple of thoughts, based on working remotely since 2019 on a creative team that is scattered across the US:
      1) My team meets once a week to make sure everyone is up to date on what other team members are doing, so even if we’re not on a project together, we’re still connecting and keeping our team relationships “warm.”
      2) We also have a monthly meeting just for the designers–everyone is welcome–to learn new approaches, to brainstorm with the group, to share expertise…
      3) We have a weekly “water cooler” session on video where people show if they’re available and it really is just hanging out and talking about whatever topics come up.
      4) Whenever one of us has a question or needs some help with idea generation, we’ll reach out to the person whose expertise best matches the help we need and then h0p on a phone or video call.

      Remote work requires you to be more proactive about asking for help or brainstorming support. Scheduling times for those opportunities help you feel more comfortable as colleagues and make it easier to ask in the moment. But I know it’s doable because my team is constantly being lauded for our collaboration, and though this group has been working together for the better part of two years, we only met in person this past May.

    7. allathian*

      Twice a year, the whole team meets at the office and we have training days in person. We also have a water cooler Teams channel for our team, and there’s a water cooler Yammer channel for the whole organization. My team also has 15-minute social ice breakers to promote a sense of community.

      We’re also going back to the office, some go nearly every day, others once a week or once every two weeks. My employer has explicitly said that they don’t want people to isolate themselves completely from the work community, although no doubt exceptions can be granted on medical grounds.

      If your employer is moving to get rid of your physical space, they might be willing to organize in-person events elsewhere occasionally.

  49. Anima*

    So I might be failing out of my uni program on Monday. (It’s because of maths.)
    I am therefore then banned from studying the same subject or one similar subject on German unis.
    I would like to switch programs anyway, preferably to one without maths.
    Has anybody here switched programs at uni? Any stories? Tipps?

    The other plan I have is getting the knowledge I want through professional development through my job – I already asked what’s possible there. Good idea or not? I would not get a bachelor in this case. Did this work out for any of you?

    (I admit I’m grappling a lot with the possible fail, because I am your classic overarchiver – my last spell at uni, totally different field, ended in a 1,7 Masters (1 is very good, 5 is fail in Germany). Can’t believe I might fail, that’s just not a thing I do. On the other hand the relieve will be great, because studying just *stressed me out* this time. Can’t wait to not have to study for hour after work and doing assignments on the weekend!)

    1. After 33 years ...*

      I can’t help directly with navigating the German system, sorry. If you were here, I’d tell you to get your advisor / director / head on side.
      I switched programmes in undergraduate, and I assist undergrads and grad students to do that here frequently. It’s not uncommon here, and there is no stigma attached.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        In the US, people joke about the difference between major you had when you started college & the one you graduated with. Absolutely no stigma! (Most people are a different person at 21/22 than they were at 18.)

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I also switched majors (engineering to social sciences) in university after nearly failing physics, which was a terrible feeling. But at the same time, I didn’t enjoy any of the “hard” classes so it wasn’t that hard to give up on my original plan. I hadn’t seriously considered anything else until that point, but gave myself a semester to take a bunch of classes I was truly interested in and found my new path that way.

        I can tell you that 25 years later, I am still on that second path and really love what I do.

        The main thing to consider on your option to get on-the-job training in lieu of a degree is that if you change jobs in the future, will the lack of a degree be a problem?

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I know lots of people who switched majors partway though, some quite drastically, and a couple who did two bachelor’s. The main issue is that if you’re making a really major switch you’re pretty much starting over at the beginning with courses, so it takes a couple years longer and more expensive. If you’re going from a start in education or history, and you want to switch to physics, you need to start over at first year, as the only courses that carry over are basically first year English and maybe a breadth requirement.

      The questions I have are
      – do you need to be able to tick “have a degree” for jobs or the career you want?
      – if you already have a degree, do you need specific certifications or degrees for the career you want?

      If you already have a degree, and you can pick up what you want through work and the occasional focussed side course, I’d go for that.

      I’m not familiar with the German system, though. My experience in other countries is that universities are quite happy to keep collecting tuition as students wander through different degree programs; when tuition is free the balance is different. I’ve known people who flunked out of programs, but they were only kicked out for a year or two. In one case, they got their life in order, came back, progressed to grad school and are now faculty – they were very good at the material, but had personal stuff interfering.

  50. Former Gremlin Herder*

    Does anyone have any experience navigating short term health insurance in between jobs? I start a new job the last week of July and was hoping to either splurge for COBRA (would help pay for medicine that isn’t vital but does improve my mental health) or get a bronze plan that would provide me with catastrophic insurance for the interim, but now I’m in this awkward spot where I start in a few weeks and will have predictable income then, which makes the marketplace seem like not a great option? Or should I just risk it for the next 17 days?

    1. AllTheBirds*

      You don’t have to actually sign up for COBRA, you can wait out the period, and if anything happens, you can retro-send your month’s premium.

      1. Former Gremlin Herder*

        Oh! I didn’t know that, thank you! I’m still waiting on the paperwork to arrive in the mail but that’s super helpful.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Yes, seconding what AllTheBirds said. I went without health insurance for about five weeks (took a week off in between jobs, one-month waiting period for benefits to kick in at new job) and nothing happened health-wise in that period so I never signed up for COBRA. Read the paperwork when you get it just to double-check, but that should work for you.

  51. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    I work in a high school as an assistant, a position I am overqualified for, but it’s what I needed/need for my mental health.

    The past two summers I have worked as an “intern” for the Technology department, getting bounced between schools to help the techs prepare student technology for the new school year.

    Two of the building techs have now told me that I should look into becoming one of them when a job opens up. They think my diligence and problem solving are the bulk of what you need to be qualified. I am not a technology person per se, so I would never have considered this. I have been co-opted by my regular building tech, and I already do about 80% of the tasks (but not work volume) that he does, but it’s that remaining 20% that I feel completely out of my depth on.

    But now that two people have encouraged me, I’m thinking about looking into it. Does anyone have any resources on getting familiar with the kind of things a public school computer technician would do, including AV troubleshooting and light hardware repair?

    (I’m a young millennial who grew up troubleshooting my own computer problems and figuring stuff out myself with the help of Google, so I feel like I have a solid grounding.)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      90% of the equipment is specific to the building and depends on what funding and what was on sale when they bought it lol. I don’t think they’ll expect you to know how to immediately troubleshoot everything, google is your friend. One of my first college jobs was working as IT for a high school. I spent 30min fighting with a 3 speaker microphone setup before I figured it out, and the teachers still thought I was a magical wizard for having it done. Nevermind that once you know the system it takes 5 min. They were just pleased it worked. So give yourself extra time early on if you can, especially for assemblies and other large volume stuff (multiple speakers, mics, projectors, laptop). You can also always do a tech rehearsal ahead of time if you know you need time to figure out what cables to connect and why does this speaker only take inputs not outputs lines.

      For prep, start taking notes on what’s in classrooms, smart boards? What brand. Projectors? what type. What type of computers, whats the school sound system. Then go google manuals for those brands. Knowing your inventory is half the battle. Especially for spare cables when inevitably someone breaks something. But that too you learn over time, oh yeah i remember seeing a spare extension cord by the gym closets that we use once a year, can move that one to Mrs. H’s classroom now and order a replacement for the gym.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Sounds a lot like what I am co-opted to do, haha. I was originally pulled because I’m familiar with inventory work, and I have become quite familiar with the student devices and circulation policies the last couple years.

        Pulling manuals for our specific equipment is a good idea. I guess really, what I’m looking for is “how can I, a tech-literate millennial but a casual, start to step over the line into being a techy person?”

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Just start doing it! Read blogs that that interest you about tech. Start playing with tech at home. Buy a couple amazon robot kits, the salt water powered ones are neato. Setup a bluetooth speaker set for your home. Start coding little things to make your life easier. Read the news about new tech releases.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          For this sort of work, a lot of it is being reasonably tech savvy, methodical, and having the patience to work through various trouble shooting things until it works. Plus good skills on googling tech stuff and understanding what you’re reading, and the ability to listen and understand and explain things clearly.

          A raspberry pi would be a good tool for playing around with stuff in a cheap way. It’s basically a computer than can fit in the palm of your hand with a bunch of ports in it, that can be used for a variety of projects, usually running a Linux-like OS. I used one to set up a home entertainment system using the OSMC package (playing movies ripped from DVDs, streaming, music files, SMB server for files accessed over wifi) which involved quite a lot of various skills, and reading how to guides. You’d get some work with power sources, HDMI, USB, SD cards, setting up an OS, installing software, handling passwords, basic internet security, and so on.

    2. Professional Shopper*

      I work for a company that provides internal IT staff. Most of the people we have working in schools are self-taught, young millennials with just a high school diploma at first.

      As far as official training goes, we have people do the CompTIA+ course if they’re doing like IT helpdesk or troubleshooting work with computers. If your school/district has a preferred hardware vendor, they usually have free trainings or certifications for working with their products (HP and Lenovo do–Chromebooks also have an educational program).

      We don’t require any of this for new hires thought, it sounds like you’re 100% qualified for your job. I wouldn’t pay for any courses yourself, but if you can find some youtube videos, it’s a great place to start).

    3. invisible fish*

      Jump right in in! In education, teachers are often handed new tech without training – we got a grant for smart boards, so you get a smart board and you get a smart board – oh, how to use it? Uhhhhh….

      If you’re willing to learn new stuff and be patient with teachers and students, you’ll do fine. Teachers get so busy they don’t have time to learn how to do some simple things for the tech the her given, and if it takes you an hour to fix something, they’ll just be glad it is fixed.

    4. OtterB*

      It sounds like a good opportunity. One thing to consider and ask your building tech colleagues: how does the school year work flow compare to the summer work flow? Preparing for the new school year seems like it would be more organized and planned-out than during the year, when you may have some some things you work by plan, but may also get some drop-everything-and-fix-this problems. Since you mentioned wanting the position you are overqualified for in support of your mental health, I’d suggest you find out a little more about whether the full time work would involve things that might be triggering for you.

    5. Disco Janet*

      Teacher here. Our tech people have a super slow response rate, so I often get pulled in to help coworkers who know I regularly fix my own stuff. It’s pretty much what you note at the bottom of your post – I’m a millennial who is very used to using Google to troubleshoot and figure out how to fix things. You would be surprised by how rare of a skill this can apparently be.

  52. Mark*

    Hi, I’m 27 with a useless degree in Kinesiology. I currently work at a supermarket for minimum wage in Los Angeles.

    I’m trying to pivot my career into something like quality assurance, IT, administrative work, etc. Obviously I haven’t received any interviews because of my useless degree, lack of networking skills and lack of relevant experience in those fields.

    My question is this: How can I tell employers that I’m willing to work for way below market value just to get my foot in the door without sounding desperate? I’d happily take minimum wage for any sort of white collar work as it would change my life. How can I articulate this with potential employers?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Are you the same person who posted a lot last year about having a kinesiology degree and working at a supermarket for minimum wage and wanting to get into office work, who asked multiple times about how to tell employers they’d work for below market value just to get in the door, and got really upset when commenters asked if you had taken any of the previously given advice?

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Objective line on resumes is optional but might be helpful “Looking to move into XYZ field”.

      Second time suggesting this here, but consider hotel work. The software is specialized so they expect to train entry level employees on it anyway, taking reservations, answering phones, checking in guests, handling guest issues. There’s a shortage of night auditors (11pm-6am shift) and front desk workers in general right now so you may get people willing to take a chance on you. Stress that your supermarket work has given you a lot of experience with handling customers, that’s a transferable skill. And then use that job to pickup experience with phones, email, spreadsheets, budgets etc that could be used to break into an admin role or IT. Night auditors some places will let you read or work on other stuff while no guests in the lobby, you could try learning code online.

      Other thing with IT jobs, some are entry level, answer the phone, use a verbal script, fill out a ticket, have them try turning off and on, then bump it into a higher queue if that doesn’t fix it. Then they promote level 1 techs to level 2 as they gain experience. Worth trying to find.

      1. M*

        I’ll try hotels, thanks I hadn’t considered that.

        And yes I’ve been applying to entry level IT positions like that: Help Desk/desktop support/geek squad, etc.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not sure there is a way to do this unfortunately. If you have the skills to do the job, you should not sell yourself short. But it sounds like you don’t have the skills / meet the job requirements and you’re willing to learn on the job for low pay, but a company wants to hire someone who has the required skills and experieince at the start.

      Perhaps a small / family businesses would be willing to exchange low salary for training you.

      You sound desperate and at the end of your rope. The solution is to determine what skills you have. Write up a good resume highlighting them. And look for jobs where you meet 50-60% of the requirements. You don’t have to meet 100% of them.

      1. M*

        I’ll try a small family business, thank you.

        I’m very desperate, I’m trying to get my foot in the door before the economy crashes otherwise I feel like I might never get a chance again at my age.

    4. Attractive Nuisance*

      This isn’t really how hiring works. Hiring managers usually have a budget for the position. They might try to get someone at the low end of the range for a variety of reasons, but they’re not going to be exceptionally interested in hiring someone for a much lower-than-standard salary. There’s no real incentive to do that – it’s not like they’re pocketing the extra cash. Their most important goal is to hire a good employee, not to save money. You’re not going to make a good impression by emphasizing that your most attractive quality is cheapness.

      That being said, if you’ve recognized that low pay is not a barrier for you, and that you’re mostly trying to get a foot in the door, is there another way you can put that to use? Could you work at a temp agency? Apply for internships instead of “real” jobs? Look for part-time jobs (these can be incredibly hard to fill in white-collar offices)? I know you said you don’t have networking skills, but since you are open to literally any kind of white collar work, it seems like your best bet would be to broadcast far and wide the fact that you are willing to take on any office job for any salary.

      1. M*

        I’ve had a really bad time with temp agencies for some reason. I go through the same cycle with every single recruiter/temp agency: They call me, we go over my resume and all that, and then they say they’ll contact me when they find a good fit, but they never do. I don’t get any sort of response when I follow up or someone new reaches out to me and we start the process all over again.

        Do you have any tips on finding part time work at an office? Most listing I’ve found are just regular, full time positions

        1. Attractive Nuisance*

          I don’t have any advice on finding part time work, unfortunately. Just thought that if you do happen to see a part-time listing, it would be a chance to turn your willingness to work for a low wage into something hiring managers need and can’t find.

          In general, I would say the dreaded networking is going to be key for you. Since you have a degree – even if it’s not relevant to what you want to do – can you get in touch with your university’s career office? They could be helpful in putting you in touch with potential employers. See if they host a job fair, or if your university has an alumni club with events you could attend. I don’t know what your social life is like, but if there are any activities that bring you in touch with office workers (church, sports, whatever) make sure to let them all know you’re looking for a job and open to whatever. You’ve found a lot of people on this thread who are eager to help you, but unfortunately none of us are hiring in the LA area, so you need to find the IRL equivalent of us.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          Since you are in a big city, a potential source of temp jobs that would allow you to gain experience is your local colleges. This was a while back, but I got several temp jobs (2-3 month contracts) in the local UC system college by applying through their website. Also, colleges sometimes have their own temporary employment services due to the volume of staff they need. (In my experience, these don’t work like other temp agencies – you apply and they only ever contact you if they have a matching job.)

          Also, this may not be feasible depending on your work schedule, but you could get office experience by volunteering at a nonprofit. (You may be able to do volunteer remotely if it involves something like data entry.) Both the nonprofits I worked in hired former volunteers all the time, and you don’t have to stay in the nonprofit world long-term if it’s not for you. Idealist.org and Craigslist can be good sources of volunteer listings.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. If they have a position open, they are going to want to find the best person to fill it. It might be that they want to find the best person to fill it who will accept a salary near the bottom of the range, but they aren’t going to choose someone who’s not a really good candidate just because they would accept minimum wage. Frequently, there are some pretty strict guidelines about what salary ranges are OK to offer for a given position within a company. If Junior Administrative Assistant roles in a company are compensated at, say, $35K-$40K a year to start, they aren’t going to hire someone in a Junior Administrative Assistant role for $20K. Where I work, that simply would not be allowed for reasons of equity.

        Rather than try to undercut other applicants on salary, I would suggest trying to build your skillset and make yourself a better candidate. There are all kinds of free online trainings you can find for things like using Excel and other Office suite products, and really digging in and getting good at those tools could make you a better candidate for an admin role. Admin work is a great way of starting in a company. I started where I am as an admin in the mid-2000s, and now I manage a large team. I have hired several people who had been in admin roles in my workplace, and who were looking to move up into a more specialized and challenging role that was on my team. So it can be a good way to move up.

    5. Generic Name*

      Here is a secret: “networking” is literally just talking to people. Also, what are you doing other than applying to jobs. Since you work at a supermarket, are your days off mid-week? I would attend professional organization meetings in your area. The American Society for Quality would be a good place to start. ASQ is great for folks who love data but not necessarily people.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      Unfortunately, I don’t think you can tell hiring managers you will happily work below market rate the get experience in the industry. If anyone takes you up on that, they are probably not a good manager.

      I do have some other thoughts about how to break into those fields (mostly spitballing, so disregard any you know won’t work/aren’t right for you):

      – internships: IT (and maybe QA) should have paid internships and they might be willing to look at your application if you write a great cover letter about why you want to move into the field

      – temping: can you work with a temp agency that can get you administrative/office jobs?

      – IT help desk: my understanding is that helpdesk positions are customer-service focused so some places will hire for soft skills and you can learn the IT skills on the job (and then you’ll have experience to move into other IT positions)

      Also, while you’re looking for other jobs, are there any positions in the supermarket you could transfer to that would give you more/different skills? A position with scheduling responsibilities or dealing with suppliers could help in finding an administrative position, for example.

    7. Tuesday*

      To be honest, I think you already have the experience needed for entry-level admin work. You have a college degree, which presumably required some level of meeting deadlines, doing research, and written/verbal communication, and you have customer service skills from the supermarket. The key is to highlight those things in your cover letter and to have confidence in them. Do not under any circumstances indicate that you’re willing to work for any wage or take any job to get your foot in the door, or it will seem really out of touch!

      You can also try looking for freelance work in your desired field on Upwork or Fiverr or similar sites if you really feel like you need some kind of specific experience to cite. But I don’t think you need any. Don’t sell yourself short!

    8. Professional Shopper*

      I work for an IT company (not anywhere near you, unfortunately). On a resume for a helpdesk analyst, we are going to look for any signs that you’ve done customer service work, and that you have actual computer skills. We don’t require anything other than a HS diploma right away.

      We also LOVE to hire our former temps–we work with a company that provides just IT employees. It would be worth it to see if there’s any sort of temp agency that focuses on IT careers because we have hired multiple level 1 analysts from ours.

      Also, it pays to be extremely nice at your current job. I poached a incredibly friendly fast food worker to be our receptionist two years ago, and now she’s doing dispatch for one of our teams. I gave her my card just because she asked if I liked working for my company (I wearing some merch), and she said she’d always been interested in working with technology. In her interview she emphasized how much she wanted a regular schedule and how much she loved solving problems for people, she’s been great.

    9. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’ll echo what others have said…offering to work for less isn’t a thing, and shouldn’t be. It’s exploiting workers. And a company who’d agree to that, likely would be an all around bad employer.

      Instead of focusing on specific titles, try to get into a company and then see if you can transition into something else later. Yes customer service sucks, but you have experience in that and you could get a CS role and then transition to QA for that department.

      Also, you’re not too old to start over. My friend went back to school to be a surgical tech at 45. She still has 20+ years of working.

    10. Twisted Lion*

      Have you looked into government jobs (federal/state)? Many federal jobs state that you will be considered qualified based on a college degree. If you are applying for federal jobs, I suggest looking up examples of federal resumes because they are totally different than regular ones (longer and more detailed). Also look up some tips for federal hiring but with a college degree you should qualify for any admin job (0301 or 0303 series) in the federal government. State jobs are often the same. Also, look at banks. I got started as a bank teller and moved my way to loans and other positions.

    11. MiniPantherMom*

      Having a bachelor’s degree isn’t useless these days even though it can feel that way if you couldn’t find something in your field or you no longer enjoy the subject area. Many administrative jobs now require a bachelor’s in anything despite that specific job not really needing that level of education.

      Have you considered pivoting to a job related to kinesiology, such as physical therapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, or audiology? All would make use of your background in anatomy and biology. What about an admin job with a hospital or medical group?

      Not sure what you define as “white collar” but plenty of admin type jobs may give you better pay and benefits that I’m guessing you are missing at your supermarket job. And you can certainly sell your customer service experience from your current job (solving problems for customers, handling difficult people, etc.) for any admin type position as most are public-facing.

    12. Gnome*

      Maybe consider doing some volunteer work that might give your resume a boost. I volunteer at the animal shelter (folding laundry and playing with cats) and learned that they have people volunteering with admin stuff and data entry stuff too. Libraries sometimes have similar positions part-time or for volunteers.

      Another option is to get some hard skills on your resume. If you want to go into something computer related, see if there’s an online boot-camp or YouTube videos you can watch to get some skills.

    13. I'm Done*

      As one of the other commenters already recommended, look for federal jobs. Go to USAJOBS and search for 301 and 341 (general administrative) positions. You can upload your own resume or you can use their online format. Since you have a degree, there shouldn’t be any issue qualifying for entry level positions. They also have intern programs that you might be able to get into. I really think that this would be your best bet. You might have to be flexible in terms of relocating, though.

    14. Seeking second childhood*

      You might benefit from applying to positions in businesses related to your field. Offhand im thinking gym management, physical education programs, training equipment suppliers.

    15. Halcyon Anon*

      I was in a somewhat similar situation at 27- I was a licensed Pharmacy Technician but hated it, and wanted to move into office/admin work to gain additional skills. I worked in hospitality at a day spa, then as a front desk/admin in professional services, then as an office manager, and continued to grow my career (albeit slowly) over about a decade. I would suggest looking at guest services roles at hotels or spas where you can use your customer service skills and add admin and software skills to your resume, and roles at medical offices where your knowledge of kinesiology might give you an advantage even though you don’t have specific medical admin experience.

      I don’t think that offering to work for less money is going to be attractive to any organization that isn’t already looking to exploit employees, so I don’t think that’s a good route to take (nor effective, ultimately). A strong cover letter is going to go a long way to demonstrate your skills and ability to transition into a new field or career area. There are definitely a lot of people who go through this same conundrum- maybe it would help to think of your next move as just one step in a multi step process. You don’t have to have the whole thing figured out, just get some forward momentum going.

  53. CalAH*

    Hi all. I would appreciate advice for self evaluations.
    I’m halfway through a trial period for my promotion and have an upcoming evaluation to identify training needs or areas of improvement before the trial period ends.
    My previous evaluations were conducted by managers. This time, I’ve been asked to fill out the evaluation form and review it with my managers. A self evaluation makes sense because I’ve had four managers in three months as people were hired, promoted, or went on extended vacations.
    I’ve generally received feedback that I am doing very well in this position. My main challenge has been continuing to backfill my old position until we recently hired a replacement, train the replacement, and still have time to learn my current job. My managers are all aware of the workload conflict and say my output is still good.
    I am more concerned than my managers. Parts of my current job and the duties I’m covering from my former job are both public facing. I’ve received negative comments from customers because under my current workload I cannot respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. Customer question about complicated or unfamiliar to me issues are particularly challenging to answer quickly.
    To address this issue (and increase my knowledge and productivity), I want more regular, structured review of my work instead of having to ask whichever coworker or manager is available in the moment when I encounter a new-to-me problem.
    When I request feedback, my managers agree to review my work but frequently have to cancel and address larger problems elsewhere in the department.
    Does anyone have suggestions for how to request more structured feedback without a) making unreasonable demands of my managers’ time and b) sounding overly critical of how they’ve offered feedback I’ve received in the past?
    Thank you very much.

    1. ABK*

      Could you ask to put a regular weekly fifteen minute check-in meeting on their calendar, without mentioning any previous feedback issues?
      With regard to the self-evaluation, my recommendation is to rate yourself as high as you reasonably can. If they think you’re doing a great job, don’t convince them that you aren’t.

  54. ProbablyObvious*

    This us a dumb, obvious question, but… we’re having recruitment issues and I recently learned that part of the problem is that one of the managers won’t hire women (in case of “trouble”), one will only hire foreigners (because they’ll submit to abuse) and another has been warned off the record but not disciplined for harassing female staff.

    The local HR won’t do anything because it’s too difficult to replace the managers if they threatened to leave but corporate HR might as they have before in other locations, according to some of my coworkers – I’m newish to the workplace in general and I don’t know if this is the kind of thing I could use the whistleblowing contact details for. Obviously I can’t talk to anyone at work! But is this serious enough to use it?

    1. Paris Geller*

      If this isn’t serious enough to use the whistleblowing contact for, I don’t know what is.
      YES, report this! Today! I would argue that you have an ethical duty to do so. Assuming you’re in the US, these hiring managers are breaking about half a dozen employment laws.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And, let’s be honest, is these managers leaving really the worst that could happen? Especially since they’re adding to the recruitment issues. (Also, they’re jerks.)

        1. Observer*

          This is true. Which says that the local HR is lazy and stupid – if they had any sense and responsibility they would realize that their jobs would become much easier if they had decent managers around.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      HR is there to protect the company, not the workers. So they’ll aim to defend the company from a discrimination lawsuit because they refuse to hire women, and that may mean trying to silence the ones who point it out or have the proof. I’d tread carefully, be job hunting in case it goes south. 3 managers at the same branch all have sexism/racism issues and the company hasn’t acted, this suggests you’ve got a much larger culture issue happening. HR should be wanting the managers to leave, the fact that your local HR is not doing anything because they might threaten to leave is nuts to me. It’s still worth reporting IMO, but be cautious how you do it.

      1. Observer*

        HR is there to protect the company, not the workers.

        That’s why I say that local HR is incompetent and lazy. Because they are NOT protecting the company.

        So they’ll aim to defend the company from a discrimination lawsuit because they refuse to hire women, and that may mean trying to silence the ones who point it out or have the proof.

        Not if they have any sense. Now, local HR clearly doesn’t have any sense. But if this is what’s going on, then upper HR has to realize that they WILL lose a lawsuit or if the DOL comes knocking. Firing the whistle-blower is not going to help. In fact, it raises the risks for the company significantly. Again, if Main HR has any sense, they will understand this and NOT retaliate, nor will they allow Local HR to do so.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Not sure what country you’re in, but that sounds super illegal. Document everything (and in a place outside work, so they can’t just erase your work emails or work documents).

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I’m surprised they haven’t already gotten questions if they’ve hired a bunch of foreign workers and no citizens. Not sure what it’s like where you are, but doesn’t that create alot of extra work helping workers apply and reapply for visas?

    5. Observer*

      But is this serious enough to use it?

      Is water wet?

      Seriously! You have one guy who is clearly doing illegal stuff, another who is almost certainly doing illegal stuff and HR but everyone is refusing to do anything about it, one who may or may not be doing illegal stuff but is clearly a terrible person and boss, and an HR department who is actively enabling all of this because they are too stupid and lazy to do their jobs.

      If that’s not serious enough to blow the whistle, then what is?

    6. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Report them and report local HR because they have to go, too.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*