I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.
1. Should I organize an all-men beach weekend for my coworkers?
I work at a bank branch of about 17 people, nine of whom are male. I’m considering inviting all the guys in the office for a weekend at the beach. We all get along and enjoy golfing, and think it could be a fun weekend. I wouldn’t be advertising it around the office because this would be a “guys weekend,” but since all the guys in the office are being invited, I’m anticipating the women in the office hearing about it and causing some drama.
Am I overthinking this because of the office culture we live in today, or is there a specific way that I should approach this? No work is going on during the trip, so no “deals” are being made. We are simply hanging out. The simple fact is that us guys are all pretty friendly towards one another and enjoy each other’s company. We’re all on the same career path and no one officially answers to or manages the other. Thoughts?
Yeah, it’s likely to be a problem. There’s a long history of women being excluded professionally through informal all-male social networks, where men are included in networking and business conversations in off-hours social settings without women. You have to understand that history to understand why, even if you 100% don’t intend this that way, it’s likely to have echoes of that to people. (Especially with the golf, by the way, as that was a traditional way women were excluded. Golf and strip clubs.)
Don’t be part of that, and definitely don’t be the person who organizes it. At a minimum it’s going to look really bad, and you may end up causing real issues in your office, as well as making people above you question your judgment.
And if you’re really friends with all the men in the office and none of the women, it’s worth thinking about why that is, since in a group of 17 people, that’s not likely to be a random quirk of statistics.
2. Can I ask for a chance to process things at work before responding?
I’m an introvert who works for and with a group of extroverts. When in critical work conversations where my boss is giving direct feedback or asking my input on changes she’d like to make to the team that I manage, I often find myself unable to think on my feet and clearly articulate what I think would work best. I know myself well enough to know that I almost always come up with better answers when I’ve had time to process things. I should add that my boss is sometimes known to spring large changes on people in our organization without much warning.
I’ve thought about asking for some of those types of “change” announcements/suggestions in email, or asking for a day or two to think about things, but I’m afraid of it not being received well or being perceived as weaker because some of the other managers aren’t like this and she likes to make quick decisions. Is it ever appropriate to ask for a chance to process? If so, when and how? If that’s not appropriate, what else can I do?
Yes, at least sometimes. Ways to say it in the moment:
* “I want to take a little time to reflect on this. Can I come back to you with input by Thursday?”
* “Do you need our thoughts right now, or could we take a couple of days to think on this and then revisit it?”
* “My initial thought is ___, but I haven’t fully digested it yet. Could I take some time to think this through and come back to you later this week?”
You could also address it more big-picture with your boss: “I find I’m more able to give you input on things like X and Y if I have some time to think rather than doing it on the spot. I know that’s not possible with everything, but where there is room to circulate things a bit before we’ll be asked to comment on them, it would help me give you better input.”
3. Taking a two-month vacation my first year on a job
I’m fresh out of college (though I started late and am now 30) and an important thing I wasn’t able to do before now was really in-depth travel (due to either school or low-paying temp jobs between semesters). I now can happily say I have a two-month vacation planned in Asia with my best friend starting in eight months! We’ve been saving and planning for over a year.
The only problem is: now that I’m done with school, I’m excited to start looking for career opportunities and have found my ideal job is hiring. I’m qualified, it’s a company I really want to work for, and a job I feel passionate about. I don’t want to go back to a unrelated job when I know I’m ready for more and need the resume experience. Is it irresponsible to apply for a career job knowing I’ll be gone in eight months for a two-month span?
Should I bring my vacation up if I get the offer? Should I see what the job is like and then work on selling the trip as benefiting the company and myself in the role (it likely would help as the job is about cultural outreach within my city). I’d love to do the job remotely if they’ll let me, but I doubt I’ll know if remote is possible until I start. Is it professional to politely quit and tell them I truly hope they’ll have an opening for me when I return?
All of this is under the umbrella that I’m an excellent worker. I’ve never been fired, get promoted quickly, and my reviews are frequently in the “exceeds expectations” category. I love working and my dedication to the company and the job always shows.
Assuming you’re in the U.S., it’s very unlikely that a junior-level job is going to let you take two months off at once … ever, but especially in your first year of working there. You typically have to have a lot of capital built up to get an employer to agree to that, and if you’re just getting started in your field, you’re very unlikely to have that capital.
That’s not to say it’s impossible. It’s possible that you could find some company that would agree to it, if you negotiate it as part of your offer. But the vast majority of employers will say no to it.
It’s also not a good idea to go in planning to quit after such a short time (and by the time you’re hired and start, it’s likely to be only six months or less before the vacation), especially since you called it your ideal job. That’s likely to burn a bridge and not be great for your resume.
If you’re committed to doing the two-month vacation, you’d be better off waiting to job search until you’re back from it. But that has its own drawbacks, and sometimes it’s easier to get hired when your degree is brand new. (2023 addition: You could also try to negotiate a start date for after you return.)
But the timing here may just not work out; it might not be realistic to take a two-month vacation in the same year you’re launching yourself into a new field.
4. I’m embarrassed that my boss found out I’m living with my parents
I’m 26 years old and moved back in with my parents three months ago as a combination of getting renovicted (where a landlord evicts a tenant under the, sometimes false, reason of conducting renovation) and wanting to save up a down payment to purchase my own place.
I work in an office and have been with the company since graduating five years ago. On a recent day off, my manager called the home phone and my mother picked up and handed the phone to me. I think they were provided an outdated phone number by HR.
Obviously I am embarrassed by this, as I especially don’t want people at work to know I moved back home as an adult. People will tend to judge you and look at you a certain way and I am aware of that. Basically I’m afraid that word will get around and affect my work relationships and/or future prospects with this employer. Why would a manager want to advance someone or recommend someone who doesn’t seem to have their personal life together?
I know it shouldn’t matter on paper but people don’t behave like that. Am I being paranoid? My plan now is just to basically just ignore it ever happened and be truthful if asked (and to get HR to update my cell #). What else should I do?
You are indeed being paranoid, or at least just overthinking this. This is not a big deal! It’s not even clear that your boss knows for sure that you moved back home (for all he knows, maybe your mom just answered your phone because you couldn’t get to it in time). But even if he does know or asks about it in the future, it’s no big deal to say “I’m saving up a down payment to purchase my own place” or “I’m temporarily at my parents’ house because my landlord decided to renovate.”
Living at home doesn’t mean you don’t have your personal life together. It’s true that it can come across that way if there are other signs of that too — inability to hold down a job, refusal to engage with the rest of the world, etc. But assuming that you otherwise seem reasonably together, it’s very unlikely that this would enter into your manager’s thinking about Professional You.