it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “Last year, I was in a very toxic job — my boss was not very good at his job and had constant turnover, and I ended up doing work that was very much not what I wanted to be doing (think taking over the very routine stuff after yet another person quit when my background and the job I had been hired for were for higher-level, more complex things). I quit in September 2022 without another job lined up because I was working 9-10 hour days and had a 45-minute one-way commute. I had no time to interview, and at that time it was a job seeker’s market. I spent about six weeks applying only for remote jobs related to the higher-level, more complex things (and with a title bump), and had some lucky misses with companies that rejected me and then went down in flames.

I ended up with two competing job offers, one of which was consulting at the same level (and pay) I had been at, and the other was in-house with a title and pay bump for the exact higher-level, more complex things I already knew and wanted to get back to doing. I took the title/pay bump, and oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying this job. I don’t believe in dream jobs, but right now this is exactly the work I want to be doing — a wide variety of interesting tasks, with judgment involved and troubleshooting and getting things squared away. Even during a busy season where I was working a ton, I was still enjoying the work. As an added bonus, my new boss is ridiculously smart, kind, patient as I’m learning things, and has even framed my performance goals to help me in my long-term career development, not just at this job. I also have a ‘side boss’ whose team I help regularly and he’s great too! I asked about taking off one of the days that I usually help his team and he immediately said it was absolutely no problem and he could find someone to fill in for the day – and he did! (I had no backfill at the old job, which was another reason it was so tough.) Maybe I’m just describing the way a job is supposed to be normally, but that last position warped my brain and I’m still untangling the effects of that. I’m one of those people who used to read the Friday good news and scoff (while secretly hoping I could get there someday), and I’m so glad I finally did get there!”

2.  “I have been reading AAM since 2019 and I’m happy to tell you that I was able to get out of a really toxic situation using your advice. I recognized that I had a boss problem, started looking for a new job, got to a couple of interviews and finally landed a job with greatly improved benefits. It’s been a wild ride!

My relationship with my ex-boss transformed from amicable to nasty over eight years. I am in academia, and I did not recognize the red flags when I first started due to inexperience. The ex-boss is a huge workaholic, believes that only those who have essentially no life besides work are fit for this career and actively chooses to pile unrealistic amounts of work on people and treat them unfairly. His behavior really worsened during the pandemic when he started to repeatedly call and cancel remote meetings on a few minutes’ notice, disappear for days without any explanation, and ignore our attempts at communication, all while instructing us to be proactive in contacting him and telling us he’s always available. He also scheduled 1-on-1 meetings for some, but not all of us, stating that he prioritizes those who are important for the team. In a nutshell, his work style is definitely not fit for managing people but the academia is notorious for only caring about scientific experience, and looping HR in on this did not have any effect. Direct and repeated feedback on why his management style was stressful to us did not make him wake up and see the demoralization he was causing. People started leaving or burning out.

I also hit my breaking point, burned out and went on a long sick leave. I tried to fix things one last time in a formal negotiation involving me, ex-boss, and occupational health care. It was a farce where he straight out lied and painted me as an unreasonable and overly sensitive person. I later learned from a trusted colleague that ex-boss called our feedback on his management style ‘childish’ and blamed us for gossiping. The cherry on top? The ex-boss ghosted my farewell party, scheduled based on his needs, at the last minute with an email directed to a coworker containing a really shoddy excuse. He never contacted me that day or afterwards, just ending eight years by pretending that I never existed. I am glad to have escaped and still blown away by how much the ex-boss seems to lack basic human decency. And yes, I am in therapy trying to undo the psychological damage and I think it’s starting to help a bit with the burnout.

I am so incredibly thankful to AAM for the support. I was able to gather my courage to see ex-boss for what he is and stay sane during my job search, reminding myself that I have a boss problem instead of submitting to his needs. The advice on cover letters, resumes, and interviews was critical in securing the new job. I was in a really toxic place and my health was deteriorating rapidly, so the advice may literally have saved my life.”

3.  “I resigned from a job of two years in late 2021 due to a family crisis that was ongoing. Thankfully, my spouse’s income was such that I didn’t need to find a new job immediately, so I started doing some freelance writing.

Fast forward to this past April. My spouse ended up resigning from his job without another lined up due to an increasingly toxic work environment. I immediately started job-hunting, as he decided to take some community college courses to refresh his skills before starting his own job hunt. We had enough savings to last us for a while if we were careful, but inflation hit our budget hard so I was getting increasingly frantic as I searched. I had multiple interviews, and two second interviews, but no offers. My confidence plummeted every time I got a rejection.

Finally, I landed an interview at a company that several of my former coworkers had moved to, as they had been singing its praises as a great workplace. I’d applied to every opening I was remotely qualified for at this company since starting my search, but had only gotten one interview with them previously (I didn’t get that position due to an inability to work weekends).

I interviewed the day before I travelled out-of-state to a family wedding, and I thought the interview had gone well. They’d said they’d get back to me early in the following week, so I was hopeful I’d get some good news once I got back from my trip.

The very next day, the recruiter called me while I was in the Las Vegas airport on a layover. With the slot machines ringing wildly in the background (yes, the Las Vegas airport has slot machines in the gate areas), she offered me the job! Apparently the hiring manager was so impressed with my interview that they decided to offer right away. It was a much-needed confidence boost.

I started in August and so far it’s been great. It’s nice to come into a workplace already knowing people, and I’m learning the ropes quickly. Thanks AAM for all your advice!”

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

    Congratulations, all!
    Here’s to hoping all stays well for you, and everyone who needs it will be having Friday Good News as wonderful as your’s soon!

  2. Goldenrod*

    I have a special place in my heart for those who escape toxic workplaces. I love hearing these stories.

    Yay!! Congrats to you all!

  3. Sara without an H*

    Congratulations to all, but especially to LW#2. I spent 35 years in higher education. In Academia, there are only two kinds of people: 1) the salt of the earth; 2) its scum.

    There is no third category.

    Enjoy your new position, working for humans!

  4. Anon For This One*


    LW#2, yeah, academia can chew us up and spit us out.
    It’s a weird set of emotions a few years on: simultaneously still angry at the outright abuse, nostalgic for getting to follow a passion, and relieved to be in so much better a place now.

  5. Wow, really?*

    I love these Friday good news posts! Congratulations to all three letter writeers! I am so happy for you guys!

  6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    I cannot possibly be the first person to think that there ought to be some kind of faculty management trainer job, i.e. Faculty Whisperer. There are dozens of great admins out there who understand faculty, and would be able to teach at least some of them the basics of management (e.g., you have to sign a time card, here’s how to do it; you cannot use the Socratic method when someone asks you for a phone number; annual performance reviews are actually a useful tool, not busywork for stupid people; etc.)

    The problem is, of course, trying to convince the upper administration that it’s necessary, as well as those faculty who need the training the most, who are always the ones who think they need it the least.

    So: ideas? Anyone out there have a strategy they think might work? Can we get the NIH and the NSF to require that a P.I. have a certain amount of hours in management training? From a Certified Trainer? (Oh, man, I would LOVE to create a faculty management training certificate curriculum endorsed and required by the NIH/NSF/ DoE etc.

    I’m not snarking here. I would really like to hear what people think.

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