What Career Conversations Should We Be Having This Year?

Because you're not JUST planning a wedding (and maybe you're not planning one at all)

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer


Last fall marked four years working at APW for me. The funny thing is, when Meg hired me (for a part-time editorial assistant position), I told her that under no circumstances did I ever want this to turn into a full-time job. After three years in the corporate grind, I knew one thing to be true: I just wanted to work for myself. Fast-forward a few years and it is painfully obvious that I am not cut out to be my own boss. Someone else’s boss, sure. I do that with joy. But not The Boss, in the Soprano’s sense of the word. That, I am terrible at.

I don’t think it’s an accident that I decided I wanted to be my own boss at the same time that I decided I wanted to throw a non-traditional wedding. It was the late days of Internet 1.0, when blogging was a thing people did for fun, before social media manager was a job title you could actually have, and when the only answer to following the traditional path was to make a hard turn and go as far in the other direction as you can go. Unhappy with your desk job? Start your own business!

And the truth I’ve learned these past few years is that there are a small, select group of people who are actually cut out to run a business (and surprise, I’m just not one of them). Which leaves the rest of us to figure out how to carve out a meaningful space in the (often male-dominated) workplace with little guidance from the world at large. And that’s no small task.

So this year, as we continue our partnership with Squarespace, we’re opening up the dialog. We’ll continue talking about entrepreneurship, of course (APW is still a woman-owned business, after all), but we’ll also be expanding the conversation to talk about what it means to just… be a woman in the workplace right now. So with that in mind, we figured we’d kick things off by asking you what kinds of career-related discussions you want to be having and who you’d like us to be having them with.

Tell us: what career conversations should we be having on APW this year? What kind of advice do you want? Which discussions should we be having?


This post was sponsored by Squarespace. These days, it’s almost a requirement to have some kind of online space where your work can live, either in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or other hub where you can show off how awesome you are. And Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build it beautiful, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. In conjunction with our career series this year, Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on yearly subscriptions when you use the code APW16 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • LJ

    How about negotiating? Whether that be salary, promotion, benefits, or job flexibility. It could be a new job or one you’ve been at awhile. I think women especially tend to be afraid to negotiate lest we be seen as “bossy” or “not a team player”. I’m in a very female-dominated field, and we are continuing to have these conversations (and I’ve helped my sister and a few friends negotiate!).

    • BSM

      Yes, I’d love to hear some more about this, especially if anyone is in a situation similar to me. At my company, we have rigid salary bands. So each level you go up represents a $10k increase, which is great when you’re getting promoted because it’s a big jump. We have performance reviews every 6 months, so you could theoretically get a $20k+ pay increase each year. However, because it is such a big move up, the bar for being promoted is quite high.

      It’s a startup, and I was promoted twice early on in my time here, before the process was more solidified (I was the 26th employee, so the promotions/raises were more arbitrary at those times), but I was not promoted last cycle and would be surprised to receive one this time around (reviews wrap up at the end of the month) due to some awkwardness I’ve been sensing from my manager.

      So I guess my question is, does anyone have suggestions for how to succeed in this type of system? I’ve been feeling like this all-or-nothing system is making it hard for me to figure out and accomplish the big leaps in performance that I think are expected if I want to move up.

      • MC

        Can you negotiate for other things (like vacation/PTO, sick days, flexibility in schedule, etc.) besides pay raises? It’s way cheaper for employers to provide those things than to give pay raises, so that might be easier for your employer to do more regularly.

        • Alexa

          Seconding this. I was recently really frustrated with the combination of stagnant pay and increasing responsibilities. I was clearly told there was no room in the budget for a pay increase, but was able to work out some “work from home” days and other in-house adjustments to improve the quality of my work life.

        • BSM

          That is a great point. In general, the company is more flexible with some of those other benefits, and I should try to think about if some combination of the other stuff would suffice.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      Yes! Negotiating! And how to do it in different places of work. Government, small business, non-profit, private, large companies etc all have different ways of going about it and results when you do.

    • Anna Plumb

      Ooooh! A million years ago on my old blog that I have since abandoned, I wrote a post about applying the lessons of negotiation (from a grad school class I took on said topic) to one’s marriage. If Meg wants I’d be happy to re-tweak into a post on negotiation in general. I’ve been very successful AND very unsuccessful at salary negotiation so I’ve got some stuff to talk about. (Also my last salary negotiation happened over the phone while I was nursing my one-month old baby and I always thought Meg would LOVE that.)

  • Fiona

    I’d love a discussion on ways to be a self-advocate. I recently left a position that wasn’t serving me well, and moved halfway across the country to a position that was professionally a step up and came with free tuition for both my husband and me to complete graduate programs. However, while on paper, it’s better, I’m noticing that my social capital in my new workplace is way lower than it was at my previous institution, and it’s been a blow to my confidence. I’m much younger than most people here, and considerably less educated – so it may be hubris – but I think I have a lot more to offer, and I’d like to advocate for myself better.

    • NotMarried!

      Yes, and related to this – the fact that statistically women are far less likely to negotiate salary etc on their own behalf than men are.

  • Leah

    Oooh! I have one! I’m 11 weeks pregnant now, and am starting to plan for how to tell my boss the news. What ducks should I have lined up first? What should I expect him to ask me? How do I manage my guilt at potentially leaving my colleagues in a tight spot while projecting confidence that I am *of course* not doing anything ‘wrong’? I’ve been searching around, and it seems what little internet guidance there is comes from the parenting sector, and NOT from the business/academic/nonprofit sectors – which is who I want to hear from.

    • Ooh, that would be something I would be interested in, too. Especially since for my future hyothetical (but probable child), I would probably have to tell my boss at least relatively earlier than I would like to otherwise because of workplace-related-safety-things that I would like to avoid when pregnant (and could be avoided but would probably need to be discussed with safety officers, etc). So I’m BIG into planning ahead.

      • Eenie

        Depending on what you’re talking about…sometimes this can be discussed with HR and safety before telling your boss. As someone who works in safety, I’ve done carcinogen reviews for expecting women super early on in pregnancy.

        • Hmmm… that is good to know. It’s another 5 years or so, and I will probably be at a different job when that happens, but that is a good thing to keep in mind. Thanks :)

    • emmers

      As a colleague of folks who have taken maternity leave, I have really appreciated when they’ve taken the time to write up operating procedures or cross train people before leaving in areas that they’ve had primary responsibility in the past. So anything like that you can do I’m sure would be appreciated. I also have always been happy to cover for folks because it built me up professionally by giving me additional skills/projects, helped them out, and also made me feel like this workplace is supportive of family life.

      • CMT

        Just to add on — everyone should have cross training and documentation anyway! You should always be prepared for the metaphorical lottery win/bus accident.

    • I googled and googled and freaked out a lot over this. At the time I was ready to tell, I was transitioning from one job to another, and also had a part time job, so I had three different bosses to tell. I ended up keeping it short and sweet and cool: “Hey, do you have a minute sometime today? There’s something personal I’d like to discuss with you?” Then, “I just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant. I’m due ___” I followed up with “I’m happy to be here [in a friendly, respectful work environment etc.] and am committed to our work over the next x months.” I didn’t go into detail about what I could offer to make things easier, or how to plan for my leave, etc. — I felt like that was overcompensating because, as you said, I’m not doing anything “wrong.” The workplace has months to plan for my leave and we can work together to make concrete plans later. I think the simple, confident approach worked well and set the tone for how they should respond.

    • TeaforTwo

      Telling my boss was easy (he congratulated me and asked when I’d be going on leave; his boss clapped her hands, squealed and said she wanted to firm up my raise before I went on leave).

      Being pregnant in the workplace, on the other hand, is a minefield. Coworkers say completely insane things to me (two different peers – both women – have told me that my boss shouldn’t hire women of childbearing age); people ask nosy questions; I spent three months throwing up in the public bathroom at work, etc. etc.

      Today we did a strategic planning exercise for the upcoming fiscal, and it came up over and over again that I’d only be here for two months of that year, so I wasn’t named the lead on anything. Part of that is practical (I live in Canada, we get a year of paid leave and I’m taking it all) and to be honest, I’m tired and don’t particularly want to start up a huge project right now. But I also worry about leaving before I’m leaving, if that makes sense. One year away is a lot…one year away plus a six month lead-up in which people treat me like a delicate flower is a lot.

      In short, I feel like I could use some advice on “doing well at work when there are other major things in your life” be they wedding planning, pregnancy, young kids, grief, family illness etc. etc.

      • Leah

        This third paragraph is very much what I’m thinking about (though I don’t live in the promised land that is canada, and get 6 weeks of paid leave – but will likely take another 6 unpaid). But for sure, this steps right into ‘lean in’ territory, and ‘leaving before I leave’ is something I am incredibly on guard about. I’m about 5 months into a new job right now, and am just starting to feel like I’m getting some ownership of some things. I’m trying hard to figure out how to justify taking lead roles on more and more things – both before and after I ‘come out’ – without over-promising and then under-delivering…it’s my first pregnancy, and honestly I have no idea what I’ll be up to both before and after the whole baby part of it actually happens. So it’s so hard to calibrate what I should be taking on…
        (Also – that’s pretty rotten to have to hear that from colleagues – and female ones! I’m sorry. If anyone says that in earshot around me, they might get punched by a pregnant lady…)
        (Also – congrats on your pregnancy!)

  • This is such a weird question I don’t even know how to phrase it properly: after nearly a decade of being the gender minority on teams, I am now part of a team that is overwhelmingly female (whoo!). I want to know what best practices I should be thinking about to make myself stand out on a team of high performing females. Oddly enough, on past teams, I have not had a problem distinguishing myself because the gender bias typically worked in my favor and I was able to prove my value by being virtually the only person in beast mode on a project. With this new team, I won’t be the only person willing to be in beast mode all the time and I’m curious if there is advice you gals have for me on adjusting to the new dynamics.

    • Eenie

      Is there a need to distinguish yourself? Can you distinguish yourself by just touting the accomplishments of the team specifying the specific areas you were key to completing or excelling?

      • A good question! I’m in a fairly hierarchical organization so it’s important to me to be able to secure at least one more promotion before we start trying for kids. There’s definitely one level that’s equivalent to making partner at a firm and I want to not be too far back from reaching that goal after we have kids. I actually for the first time in my life am happy with the work I’m doing – it took 4.5 years to position myself to get a role that also is only now aligning with what external industry needs so I want to ride this bull for what it’s worth.

  • up_at_Dawn

    Feeling like being a “bad feminist” for working in a female-dominated, and historically female field? (Anyone else? Just me?)

    • E.

      yes yes yes

      • up_at_Dawn

        I mean I enjoy my work, it’s very important to me. But I’m a nurse. So that’s a very stereotypically feminine job. I’m not exactly challenging expectations about women’s gender roles every day.

        • E.

          I’m right there with you. I was a psych major in college and now I teach 1st grade (which I love), it’s hard to get more female dominated than that! At least we don’t have to deal with male dominated work environments?

          • up_at_Dawn

            Ah. But in your field, similar to mine it is far easier for men to get positions. Male new graduates in my field tend to make up a disproportionate number of those working in specialty areas. But they also have to deal with a lot of sexism from people on working in a typically “feminine” field.

          • Alexa

            Yes, but as someone who works with kids & doesn’t fit a lot of feminine stereotypes, I feel like it’s also a chance to help kids develop less reliance on narrow stereotypes…

    • Emma

      Similarly…my husband was just accepted to a top-tier business school (yay!) halfway across the country. I’m feeling like “bad feminist” for sacrificing my career (even though I don’t love my current job) to move for him, even though I am early in my career, etc.

      • Eenie

        I just quit my job and moved halfway across the country to join my fiance (“bad feminist”). But our kids are getting my last name (“good feminist”). You can’t die on every hill. I’d like to see more written about making choices that don’t seem feminist and how to get over the guilt from them. Especially when it comes to career choices. My career simply can’t always come first because we have to beat the patriarchy.

    • Claire

      Yep! Add the crankiness that comes from being in a company where all the lower levels of management are female, but the people at the highest levels of leadership are all male. Plus it’s hard for employees in my department to apply usual “Lean-In”-style tips about negotiating for raises, promotions, etc. due to my company’s relationship with the local union. So yeah. A different professional track looks good right now…

    • Abe

      I work in a very female-dominated industry (children’s books), and there’s still sexism (perpetuated by everyone). Still plenty of work to be done here!

      But I totally agree and understand what you mean – as an artist, climbing a traditional professional ladder was never important to me. I would love to quit my job and pursue my creative passions. But the strident feminist in me does feel guilty that I’m playing into a stereotype and not setting a great example of advancing the cause.

      • Oooo I’ve always wanted to work in children’s books! Very neat!

        • Abe

          That’s awesome, you should! :) Despite low salaries and competition (and the challenge of combating unconscious bias, like most everywhere else), it’s a great industry. Everyone is super passionate about books… which makes for a genuine and nice group of people, I think!

          • Are you comfortable sharing what you do?

            it’s something I’m definitely working towards, it’s great to hear that it’s a great industry to work in. :D

          • Abe

            Of course! I’m a designer, so I work on book covers, type, etc. Good luck with your goals whatever they may be!!

    • Kayjayoh

      Indeed. I worked in photo printing for a little while after college (photography major) but then ended up in substitute teaching, followed by teaching sex ed for Planned Parenthood, followed by years and years as an administrative assistant. And I’m not even passionate about being as admin. I’ve just kind of given up on trying to find a “career” that I am passionate about. Being an admin pays the bills, and being an admin in academia gives me a lot of security. But very female-dominated professions for a long time.

      I don’t feel “bad feminist” about it, but I have to remind myself not to be self-conscious.

    • Can you unpack that a little more? What bothers you about that?

      • up_at_Dawn

        I suspect that part of it is how society tends to devalue traditionally “female” labour. Despite the fact that it is incredibly important and necessary work. It tends to be underpaid and lacks the prestige of typically “male” jobs.

        Another factor is that I am someone who had a certain degree of ability and interest in pursuing STEM-type fields. But women tend to get systematically pushed out of such fields. I could share many anecdotes from my school career (starting in secondary school) of being given a hard time simply for being in the chemistry lab, or the math class and expecting to participate. I have a friend working on her masters in Social Psych who studies women’s involvement in STEM-type fields and the factors that lead women to pursue or not pursue such fields. I personally know women who switched majors in university to avoid harassment.

        I went from being a psych major, to completing nursing school. So since post-secondary I’ve essentially remained in female dominated fields and spaces. And I’ve felt safer, my educational attainment has been higher, my grades have been higher, and my skills have been recognized, I’ve been encouraged and allowed to participate- and all of those are very good things.

        If I had pursued a more male-dominated field -it would be an uphill climb, coming up against obstacles, social issues, exclusion by peers, being targeted by professors.
        Somehow in my head I’ve convinced myself that that would have been the “more valuable” and “more feminist” choice. Even though I enjoy my work, and I am a professional. I should feel like this is equally valuable. I know it’s flawed logic.

    • Lex

      Oh I feel this too :( I try to think, maybe I’m not challenging gender roles every day, but I can challenge the assumption that female-dominated fields are less worthy of respect. My professors are female nurses with PhDs, and I’m so inspired by their careers, research, social justice work, etc. (I’m a student, not an RN yet). I’d love a discussion about finding and promoting the value in “women’s work”…I think there have been APW pieces around that before? The ‘bad feminist’ thing doesn’t make sense to me when I really think about it, but I have some strange guilt about becoming a nurse. Maybe it’s the terrible media stereotypes. I don’t know.

      • up_at_Dawn

        I’m a new grad, so I’m only a bit ahead of you :)

  • Lizzie

    I’d love a discussion about ways to rock your job for the long haul without necessarily climbing the ladder. Say, if you’ve hit the ceiling of seniority in your position, but you’re not interested in moving on to a bigger gig, or starting your own business, or other things normally offered up as the holy grail of career ambition. For example, the advice “your job is to make your boss look good” helps me focus on adding value in visible ways without being a brown-noser.

    • Kayjayoh

      Yes. Definitely this. When you look at the next thing “up” and think, “I’m not sure if that is for me.”

    • Mary Jo TC

      Totally. I’m a teacher, and there’s no way to move up (in pay and seniority) from where I am without going into administration (which looks like a nightmare) or getting a PhD. That kind of makes it feel like there’s no point in doing more than coasting professionally, besides the whole changing lives on a daily basis thing.

  • BSM

    I’d love to hear some stories from people who were unhappy or unfulfilled in their roles and what they did in a tactical sense to become more happy or fulfilled, whether in the original position or a new job at a new company or becoming their own boss. I feel like I’m right on the cusp of a change; I know I want to do something else than what I currently do (C-level support), but I don’t know what. How do I figure it out? Is there a book or article I should read? I thought-exercise I should work through? Just start doing shit? Something else?

    • emmers

      I was unhappy at my job for a long while. It helped to take on projects, and do professional development, to feel like I was building skills instead of spinning my wheels. I also interviewed at a few places. It ended up that it was a great decision to stay at my job, which is now awesome, but it took years to slowly get here. Do things, if you can, to build yourself, both in your current place of employment, but also to make you attractive to future employers. If you can find a mentor, that can be so helpful, too.

    • Kara

      I was in a position for 2 years that I found very soul-sucking (like had cry some days in the bathroom to get through it), but what helped me the most was 1.) letting my manager know that I was kicking ass with XYZ, and based on my skills I would be better suited for position 456, 2.) taking on additional responsibilities and making others aware that I could do more, 3.) asking other people what they did? did they enjoy it? would the recommend it? did they think I would be a good fit for something similar?, 4.) (and I’m not proud of this, but) wine. Sometimes, just the weekends of freedom with my husband were what kept me going.

      I’ve always been the breadwinner, so quitting wasn’t an option.

      Good luck! Being in purgatory can feel a lot like hell.

    • J

      I just started reading “Getting Unstuck: A Guide To Discovering Your Next Career Path,” by Timothy Butler. It has concrete exercises to work through some of this. I’ve barely started, but it’s interesting so far!

    • eating words

      You can also try doing informational interviews. Reach out to some people that you don’t know well (or don’t know at all) and ask if you can talk to them about their field and their career path. It’s a great way to learn more about other possible career paths, and to meet people who might be able to help you out down the road.

  • Sarah Bereza

    I’m curious about other’s experience of the *not* leaning in seasons of life…how have people, who are normally full-steam-ahead about their careers, approached the times when their careers need to take the back seat for a while?

    • Yes to this!

    • Stephanie

      YES! going through this right now

    • TemporarySAHM

      Yes! I am taking indefinite time off from working to have a baby (because standard maternity leave just didn’t feel like enough time) and I am so thrown off and and having a mini identity crisis about what this means for career. How do you press pause without ruining your opportunities for the future? I am not inclined towards starting my own business, which seems like the most typical response.

      • BiblioBug

        In this same vein, I just got back to work from maternity leave, and I love my job and want to move up in my career, but I also want to be able to get my kid from daycare on time (sometimes early) and see her for a bit in the evenings before she goes to bed. How do you ask for some flexibility (I’m a librarian so I know it can’t be too flexible because part of the job is being their for patrons) without it seeming like I’m stepping back from my career?

    • megep

      YES. So many people I know are starting to enter this stage and it is freaking us all out. We don’t necessarily have people we can turn to for advice (a lot of our moms just stopped working, that was 30 years ago anyways, coworkers have vastly different financial situations, etc.) So this would be a huge huge help.

      • SLG

        Wow, I’m having a small epiphany over here. I always thought I was the only one who didn’t have people to ask for advice about my job (because of some details about my upbringing). Weirdly reassuring to know I’m not alone!

    • Magdalena

      Yes to this too! I am going through something similar myself and I would love to hear other perspectives on the matter.

    • Nora

      YES to this! More about the tension and value judgments around the concepts of “leaning in” and “leaning out.” How to reconcile wanting a thriving community/family life in a work culture that makes it nearly impossible, especially for women.

      • Vilmos Kovacs

        This thread here is so interesting and such a good example of “grass being greener.” I’m a mid-level associate at a very large law firm and I work a lot. 12-14 hour days are the norm. I work most weekends. I work through vacations. I’ve looked at the trade-offs, and decided that the crazy good experience, resume value and money has been worth not having a life for the last three years (and probably the next 5-7 years to come). It will give me lots of options in a short amount of time (through a combination of financial security and marketability). My husband is in tech and works 80% of what I work (so still a lot). But the feed back we get from our friends and family (so our community), is incredibly negative for me and neutral to positive for him. I feel like the cultural feedback is that a women’s ambition is emasculating to her partner (if she is heterosexual) and is marriage killing. And I feel this most acutely from my peers. I feel a lot of (white, highly educated, millennial women) are really judgmental about “leaning in”/being concerned with money/career intensity.

        • J

          Ha, I sometimes feel the opposite! I think it might be partly based on who the peer group is (mine is mostly MBAs, so definitely leaning in), but also that there is totally judgment on both sides – you kind of can’t win.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            We should introduce each other to our friends!

    • My situation is… I didn’t “lean out” on purpose, and I “leaned out” early. I’m disabled and after not being able to finish at a traditional college or hold down a (admittedly high-stress retail) job, I had to quit to keep from… um… killing myself, and I applied for SSI. I’ve worked through enough in therapy that I’ve started going to a day program, and eventual goals in the next 1 – 5 years include getting a license, going back to school, and getting a job. But the reality of my disability is there is a very high chance I’m going to be leaning in and out my entire life. Plus I… really feel like I’m only getting a job because it’s what’s expected of me. I would much rather be a permanent homemaker and SAHM (which, being queer, has a lot less feminist baggage than if I were engaged to a cisgender guy, so woo!). The only thing I could think of that I’d like to do was go back to school for ministry… doing something in pastoral counseling or as a chaplain. But in my Christian denomination, I was told not to bother because I’d never make enough money to pay off my degree. Which, is another huge whole issue… because in addition to my disability making school difficult, finances were a big part of why I left. I was undeclared for three semesters and I couldn’t see spending all that money with no guaranteed promise of being able to pay it off due to indecision or choosing a career I ultimately didn’t love. I have no idea how to explore careers that are more, shall we say, offbeat, and that would offer the flexibility of being able to lean in and out ad nauseum. Halp!

      • (Also, I don’t even know if that is a correct usage of the terms “leaning in/out” so. There’s that).

      • Amy March

        If you’re interested in pastoral counseling, there are lots of options that are similar without being ministry. A secular counseling degree, social work, working for an organization like the Salvation Army as a counselor, or working in the church sphere in an administrative non-ministerial role. Not that anyone of these is a magic bullet, but if your interests and abilities lead you to pastoral counseling there are potentially many things you could succeed at.

        • Thank you for that information! Normally when I tell people “this is what I’m thinking of going to school for” and they don’t think it would be a good fit, their responses are… less than helpful and do not point me to other options. Pretty much my whole life all I’ve gotten is “this is the (extremely mainstream, what everybody does/should do) career I think you’d be good at” and when I try to deviate from the norm I get no support. I’ve read through the comments and I think I’ve seen this before, but… when you’re older and thinking of a career change (or not even “older”, just… older than traditional college-age) where do you go? Are career counselors still a thing? And can one find a career counselor that can really delve into things like you did, and offer options that may be off the beaten path?

          • CP2011

            My husband and I have a career counselor and she has been life changing for us!

          • Career counselors are the best! Mine helped me from a place of “I like my job, but I don’t see it becoming a career and everyone’s telling me to go to Business School, but it doesn’t feel right. I have no idea what to do now.” I’ve seen others go in with much more of a “help me choose among these 3 options” place. Find someone who will meet you where you are. We did a variety of journaling exercises, interest and personality type tests, and I had a bunch of homework that felt really personal and awesome after each session (from informational interviews to reading books to surfing the web at various government sites learning about how one becomes an X and what the salaries are like). It was a lot, but I felt really supported through all of it and it felt good to be moving closer and closer to what I should do next so it wasn’t overwhelming.

            In the end, I (well, we together) realized that my first Myers Briggs result was who I was being at work, but it wasn’t me. I realized that meant I had a whole other side of myself that needed to be expressed and that I should be pursuing a completely different set of careers. And instead of becoming a lawyer or business person, I went to acupuncture school. It’s been a long road, but I’m graduated and in the baby stages of starting a practice with a group of ladies who are at various stages of their careers. So I am kind of being forced to start my own business, but it’s in a supportive way for how I need to be able to function in the role of entrepreneur. I could not do this myself.

            So, short version, definitely seek a career counselor! And if you’re already in therapy you’ll be streets ahead of where I started. I ended up there in order to make a true choice – it takes a lot to depart from what society demands of us. Best of luck! I think you’ll find a great answer to what you’re looking for.

          • Abby

            How did you find your career counselor? This sounds super helpful but having had trouble clicking with therapists in the past I have no idea how to find a good one other than trial and error.

          • I guess I was lucky. I found mine via a Yelp search (Bay Area Career Center). It was a center that had multiple counselors and I liked the first one I met (but had I not, there would have been options within the center for me to switch, which felt like a smart way to start). No matter how many great recommendations someone has you might still not find they are right for you, but recommendations is a good place to start all the same. See if you can find someone via Yelp, Thumbtack, a Google search, or LinkedIn. Depending on your geographic location there may be more options than you think. I wonder – there might even be people who can meet with you remotely (via Skype, etc) so if you’re finding slim pickings in your area, send emails or make phone calls to people in your same time zone as a start to see if they’ll connect with you that way? Hope that helps!

          • Abby

            Absolutely. Thanks!

          • Not sure if you’ve already tried/succeeded in your search, but I met a friend today I had forgotten does coaching. She mentioned in passing that most of her clients are remote so I asked if she does career counseling and she said yes! You could check her out – no obligation of course! We know each other from acupuncture school so part of her website is about her practice here, but she has been a coach for years before that. http://www.kelseylowitz.com/service-overview/coaching/ If she doesn’t work out, she said she could also give you recommendations within her network that might fit better.

          • J

            Check with your college career center – they may have resources for alumni/former students.

      • Anon

        My leaning out story: I went through many years of training to become a doctor. Had a baby my 1st year out of training. Didn’t consider options other than returning to FT work. Went back PT at 8 weeks post-partum and then FT at 12 weeks. Life happened, and at 15 months I pulled him out of daycare on a leave of absence from work. Planned 6 week LOA. At the beginning I was thinking “No way can I be a stay at home mom – it’s just not who I am”. Now I am nearing the end of my leave and dreading return, trying to figure out how I can work only PT. I love my job, but in some ways I even now want to be a stay at home mom for a few years. Major identity shift!!! I can’t even believe who I am anymore.

    • Megan

      I used to work a very demanding job in a public relations agency that focused a lot on crisis communications. It was draining – I worked 24/7, including on “vacation” and the stakes were really, really high for everything. One day I read an article with the line “just because you’re good AT something, doesn’t mean its good FOR you” and that really clicked. I left the industry, got a job at a software company with much more flexibility and much less pressure. My friends and family thought I was crazy and that I’d miss the fast paced, interesting work I was doing. But, I haven’t regretted it for a second. Now I get to travel, be present when with my friends/family, have enough brain space to be a thoughtful person…it’s AMAZING. I’m not sure if that 100% meets what you brought up, but it was such a revelation to take a step back from a career that I thought I loved just for the sake of my own sanity and have it be ok.

      • SLG

        I love this! As someone else (I think on APW!) put it, it’s not enough just to love what you do — it also has to love you back.

      • Abby

        This is a super encouraging story, and I would love to see some posts on the nitty-gritty of how people have switched industries– did you use recruiters? Just completely retool your resume to focus on transferable skills and start sending it out? Network the hell out of things (and which networking strategies actually worked)? I’m getting to a point in my career where I feel like the options are wide open (too wide, really), and would love some perspective of how other people have figured out what shifts will make them happy and how they made them happen. Or, for that matter, how people have managed to turn things around and wrestle with the angel, as it were, to make a job that wasn’t working for them more fulfilling.

        • Megan

          Really good points! Before I made my switch, I was really struggling with the question of “If not this, then what?” My degree was PR focused and all of my career experience was in the PR industry. In my case, I got kind of lucky – an acquaintance worked at my now company and posted about the job on Facebook. I was having a particularly bad day and the benefits looked amazing (unlimited vacation, no employee contribution for health/dental and 3-months maternity leave with 100% of pay!) so I went for it. I think the key in my case was taking the time to re-tool my resume based on the skills I knew they wanted based on the job description. They didn’t care that I’d secured media placements for clients the way PR agencies would have. Since the job was consulting with their clients, they cared that I’d regularly been in touch with CEO-level contacts, managed multiple accounts at once and had leadership experience. It was really, really scary to make the leap (I didn’t understand half the words people were using on my first day!), but I think changing career paths can be really rewarding.

    • J

      Yes, yes, yes. For me, I think part of this is learning to separate identity from achievement and/or external perceptions. Being an achiever is important to me, and it’s not that I want to let go of that going forward. But, since my son was born two years ago, I’ve made changes to my career path (stopped working, now consulting part-time) that mean I’m not achieving as much in a concrete, externally-visible way. This is what I want to be doing, but I struggle with the (lack of) external validation, because I’m used to deriving value from that – and I don’t think that’s necessarily healthy (even when I’m back in a more traditional career path).

    • Anne-Marie Slaughter (foreign policy expert who wrote the “Why Women Can’t Have it All” piece in the Atlantic a couple years ago) has a new book out called Unfinished Business that tackles this question. It’s more from a perspective of this is where the world of work should head – towards giving people flexible options that let them lean in and out depending on what their personal lives demand, without totally falling off the career track – but it’s definitely a great starting point.

  • Alexa

    I’d be interested in conversations about change—when it’s worth pursuing, when it’s okay to let things stay the same rather than change for its own sake, and maybe especially how to respond and hold your life together when there’s a lot of change going on around you that is outside of your control. (I’m working in public education, but I’m sure there are lots of other environments where this happens.)

    • Sarah E

      I’d second that. What kind of questions should I ask myself to determine whether a job is a poor fit, or whether I need to settle in, allow myself to grow into it a little, etc.?

    • Ashleyk

      I agree. I’m having a hard time discerning if I need a career change because it’s time or just because I’m used to change every few years. I’m in my early thirties but have had a steady stream of new goals in the last ten years – finishing university, new position, grad school, another new position, planning a wedding… and now – nothing. It’s king of status quo from here on out unless I changes jobs/careers.

      Also – healthcare or other union dominated fields? I am Canadian so maybe this is different but I love the idea of advocating for more vacation or a raise but in a unionized environment that’s just not an option. I know there are some negotiables that I can advocate for (i.e.site of work etc.) but it has a much different feel in an environment where everything is done according the collective agreement. Side note – I’m not complaining about being a union – in so many ways it’s great and I feel very fortunate but it can also be limiting. This also plays into my complaint above since opportunities for advancement are very limited,

      • Alexa

        I’m especially stuck on the question of grad school, honestly. I enjoy my position, but I got to it by proving my competence at my job in practice. Almost anything similar I’d probably need a different Master’s of PhD certification, but deciding if/when that’s worth doing is hard.

    • Lizzie

      Yes to this, including the concept of change for the sake of getting outside your comfort zone and growing as a person. When does stability become inertia?

  • I’d love some advice about making a change when none of the other opportunities you see appeal to you. In my situation, I like what I do in terms of my job title/role, but want to work for a different company. However, a lot of the opportunities in my area for my role are in industries that don’t appeal to me. Do I pursue them anyway, just for the sake of change? Or suck it up at my current company? Special consideration: I’m in a *not* leaning in season of life…

  • Kara

    I’d like some guidance on how to walk the assertive/direct line without straying into the “bitchy/bossy” line. I have people that report to me (and have for for several years), and last week, I was pulled aside by my manager saying I needed to be “less direct”. First time for everything, and let me tell you, I got ragey.

    • I was once given the shocking professional feedback that I am “very aggressive.” (!) All my life, I have been described as easygoing, indecisive, friendly, empathetic, even passive-aggressive… If doing your job and doing it well is “very aggressive,” I say own it.

      • Kara

        Thanks AnnieP. I’m doing a bang up job, and I do believe it’s a generational issue. I was told that I need to “improve my delivery of criticism” by “leading with good news first”.

        I’m always censoring myself, and now, I’ll have to be more careful.

        • AP

          *head desk*

          That’s just…mind-blowing.

    • Sarah E

      People who label you as “bitchy/bossy” are going to do so no matter what comes out of your mouth. Either that or they will say you’re a pushover not suited to a leadership position. Fuck ’em.

      I’m with you, in that I’m more likely to overstep myself than to be submissive, but if your manager is giving you feedback, I’d ask for more information. Something like “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. It would be really helpful if I had some concrete examples, because I’m obviously not seeing a difference between my style and (insert male colleague’s name)’s style.”

      • Kara

        Thank you! I’ve asked for examples…and they’ve been lacking.

        • Sarah E

          Ugh. If approached again, I’d repeat the request. “Yes, I’ve had that on my mind, but as I mentioned, without examples, I’m not really sure how my style is different from (another male colleague or boss). Could you explain that more clearly? I’d like concrete steps to work on.”

          Meanwhile, if it were me, I’d be mentally composing my professional feminist rage lecture.

    • Emily

      I’m struggling with Disqus here… Tara Mohr (Playing Big book, mentioned above) talks about this being a double bind for women in that we get to be either warm or competent, but not both. Her suggestion is to try and up the warmth before and after meetings (ask about family, smile, etc.) and have the competence during the meeting. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, but that might be one strategy.

      • Kara

        Thank you so much! I appreciate all the help :)

    • Danielle

      This makes me… really mad.


  • Kelli

    Current situation: in a terrible, soul-sucking job I have hated since I started eight months ago. Nearing getting another job (I hope!), thinking about the future. With that in mind:
    1. How do you know when it’s time to move on from a job you dislike and when it’s time to suck it up and practice contentment?
    2. When should you just take a leap of faith (quitting a job that is doing you emotional damage even before you have another one completely lined up) when you are the primary breadwinner?
    3. How long should you work at a new job before attempting to get pregnant? Should that not matter?

    Even if these don’t become APW posts this year, I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences! Feeling discouraged today, and in need of some APW group wisdom!

    • Kara

      I can’t attest to #2 or #3, but depending on your field and skill set, I’d highly recommend staying in the soul-sucking job until you have something lined up (or you are no longer the primary breadwinner).

      If you’re the primary breadwinner (like your job covers rent / utilities/ car / food /etc. and your partner’s salary/grant/etc. can’t cover those necessities if you were out of your job), I say stay put. Yes, it’s very sucky :(. The risk(s) include dipping into emergency savings (or possibly exceeding them), going without important benefits (don’t know if you’re located in the US). Also, if you quit a job, you don’t qualify for unemployment benefits (if you get fired/laid off, you would qualify for these benefits).

      #3: If you’re not US based, I don’t know what you’ll face. However, most US corporate companies require you to work at least a certain amount of time to qualify for maternity leave (if they provide something more than FLMA–for example, my company requires that you work for at least 6 months before starting maternity leave to get the additional time off that they offer). Also, not all companies/jobs are required to give you FMLA, which should be something you consider before leaving any position (if you plan to get pregnant).

      • emmers

        +1 on number two. Kick your job search into high gear (update your cover letter/resume, have friends review it, apply to lots of jobs– way more than you think you’ll need– it drives me crazy when I hear of friends pinning everything on one job that they’re applying to, when most jobs have a decent amount of competition/applicants), and stay as long as you can. As someone who’s been on many hiring committees, gaps are generally not positive, so any employment you can keep for that purpose is good. If you really can’t stomach staying in your job, then try to get something else that’s hourly at least, to slow the financial drain.

        • Jess

          And a job-search coach is totally a thing! Friends reviewing your resume are all well and good but if they are just as lost about job-hunting strategy as you are, they’re not really that helpful. A good coach can pay off in making your hunt more efficient and resulting in better jobs or negotiating power.

          • Scalliwag

            I’d definitely be open to hearing more about job-search coach and hearing from a “career counselor.” This is something I’ve considered using, and haven’t taken the plunge because it somehow feels very “yuppie” (a very loaded word), and also like I should be enough of an empowered female to handle this myself. Hearing from others who have done this would be very helpful!

          • Amy March

            On the empowerment front, personally I always feel empowered by hiring an expert to support me in whatever I’m doing. Like, hiring a dentist is empowering. Pulling my own teeth not so much.

          • Scalliwag

            That is a particularly great analogy. I have a tendency to overthink/over-complicate things but appreciate straightforwardness, and that hit the nail on the head!

          • CP2011

            I mentioned this in an earlier response, but my husband and I have built a relationship with a career coach and I truly credit our professional success to her. I met ours at networking event for my field when she was just starting her business I heard her talking about her biz (geared toward new grads at that point) and I went and introduced myself. She has been the first person we call with questions about interviews, negotiations, difficult situations and more. We are lucky in that we built a personal relationship with her early on, but it has been a boon to our young careers.

          • Scalliwag

            Thanks for chiming in on this. I do think part of it is I’ve only felt they would be geared towards managers/big career changes and I have not known anyone who has utilized this sort of service. Even if the open thread doesn’t lead to that sort of article, it has been very valuable!

        • Eenie

          So many good pointers. I emailed all job descriptions, resumes, and cover letters to a friend so I had an idea of when I submitted them too, and I printed a copy of the resume they had during any interviews.

    • Lawyerette510

      I think 1 & 2 are really individual to specific household logistics. As for 3, like Kara said, a lot depends on where you are and what you want your post-pregnancy return to work to look like. Generally, in the US as a whole, the only clear protection you have federally is under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees, and you have to work at a location with 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius (unless you work remotely and report to a location with 50 or more employee, then you’d be eligible), but in addition to the worksite being large enough, you also have to have worked there for a total of 12 months prior to beginning the leave and for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months proceeding the leave. Then, after all that, you only get up to 12 weeks total of unpaid, job-protected, benefits-continued leave. Depending on where you live, some states or municipalities have additional leave requirements for birth-parents during the time they are disabled because of pregnancy or child-birth (such as California) and the protection applies to smaller employers and employees who have been there for less time.

      Some companies choose to extended additional benefits, and as Kara pointed out, lots of time those additional benefits require some length of time as an employee usually 6 to 12 months.

      The lack of pregnancy-related and baby-bonding leave entitlements in the US is really bad for gender equality in the workplace.

    • Not Sarah

      For #2, I would say it’s different for each couple’s values, but for my values that would look like considering quitting a job doing you emotional damage if between savings and my partner’s income, I could live for about six months without going into debt.

    • CP2011

      In response to question 1, I was really unhappy in my current job at around the 8-month mark after starting. I decided to apply for other jobs just to see what else was out there. I got an interview for the first one I applied for, and that interview actually made me super appreciative of what I currently have. That and trying to train myself to focus on what I like rather than what I dislike have made me much happier at work (same job). Not to say I’m not open to other opportunities, but it can help to see that the grass isn’t always greener. And I don’t mean to diminish your unhappiness– the circumstances are different for everyone!

  • Ashlah

    This might not be in line with the badass entrepreneurial spirit most APW posts contain (which is awesome and I want it to continue–maybe this is a topic for various comment sections), but as someone without major career aspirations (I’ve never been able to think of a job I’d love), I’m curious to hear from people who work a not-so-satisfying job for the sake of a paycheck, and how they stay content doing so. What do you do at work to make yourself feel valuable and fulfilled? Or do you get your main fulfillment outside of work? If so, are you content to see your hours at work as a means to an end? Was it a struggle to get to that mindset?

    • Lizzie


    • k

      THIS. There’s so much material on either quitting everything to follow your passion or leaning in because climbing up the ladder to leadership is your passion but what about people who are content just to have a job? Everything I’m good at would take way more suffering, luck, and skill than I have in me to be a real Career, so instead I push paper for the government (which is the most “Just a Job” culture possible). It gives me time and money to do the things I care about without those things becoming a source of stress and anxiety.

      • Arie

        I do this, too. I think I always grew up with this idea that I needed to work the hardest, be the best, etc. At some point I thought, well when will it ever be enough? when does that ever stop? When I accepted that I just wasn’t going to be as hugely ambitious as I thought, and decided not to go to graduate school or continue to sacrifice other parts of my life in the pursuit of a more lucrative career path, I discovered something pretty amazing. It turns out that I do actually believe I, a tiny cog in a giant bureaucracy machine, can still do meaningful work. I think about the precious few times I’ve encountered a bureaucratic process that wasn’t cumbersome, or a bureaucrat who applied logic and reason to a problem instead of just saying no, and how satisfying those moments were for me. Then I think, hey, I can do that for other people in this position, so that at least not every single interaction someone has with this giant machine will be negative. And in the process, I get job security, lots of vacation days, and the ability to live where I want to live. No, it’s not “following my passion,” (I doubt anyone likes excel quite that much), but I like to think it still has meaning.

    • Tara Croy


    • Vilmos Kovacs

      I would love to see reflections on breadwinning and getting it done. Following a passion isn’t always realistic or sustainable and that is really, really ok.

    • Sara

      I’m not sure if you’re asking here or just as a general topic starter, but I’m the same way. I can’t seem to bring myself to be passionate about a job – so I’ve decided my job/salary fuels the outside. I love volunteering at the community theatre and the animal shelter, part time teaching aerial hammocks, travelling, etc. I’ve tried to write down things I like or am good at and fit them into a job, but I haven’t found anything I like. At my current job, I love my boss and the people are pleasant. The upper management likes me, respects my opinion and wants me to succeed. That’s the best culture I’ve been a part of, so while the job itself is boring and gets repetitive, I feel like I’ve found a good place.

      • Kayjayoh

        “I’ve decided my job/salary fuels the outside.”

        Yes. I work to pay for the things I love to do. (Back when I worked because I loved the work, I could barely pay for…anything.)

      • CP2011

        I’m with you! I need to keep building up my “outside” though– my non-work activities have dwindled lately. Can you talk more about volunteering at the animal shelter? It’s something I think a lot about doing, but I’m afraid because I’m over-the-top sensitive when it comes to animal suffering, so I’m afraid being there will make me spiral into depression in spite of the positive impact I’d have.

        • Sara

          The shelter I work with is a no-kill shelter, and we have a great staff/volunteer system that keeps the animals relatively happy. Obviously some cats/dogs don’t do great in that environment but we also have a deep foster bench that allows us to work with animals that show better outside of the shelter environment. I love it. We have a great turnover rate, and a low return rate. I work in the kennel and the adoption desk, and its so great getting to play with dogs on a saturday morning or help people take home their new fur babies.
          If you can find a no-kill shelter in your area, I would recommend it! You’re working to make the animal’s world a better place. I think that even if they come in rough, you help them get better and you see the good outcome. Plus, (at least at mine) we don’t see the animals at their absolute worse – that’s the staff’s job. We see them once they’re ready for adoption, or almost ready.

          • CP2011

            Thanks for the info! I think I will look into it. I had been looking into volunteering with dress for success, but I know I’m way more passionate about helping animals.

    • VKD_Vee

      This is me. My job has always been just… a job. Almost always at a desk and nothing ever terribly exciting. I describe myself in cover letters as an “administrative professional” and joke to friends that I’m “just an office lady” (I need to stop doing that, actualy.). I’ve never *loved* this career, but it’s what I’ve ended up doing this kind of work for over a decade and I’ve been able to build my skills (and salary) along the way. I’m actually proud to be the main breadwinner at my house and admin work in the public sector almost always comes with decent benefits which is obviously amazing for both me and my husband.

      When I was a kid I used to *worry* because I didn’t know what my professional passion was going to be. I doubt I’ll ever figure that out, but I’m happy making money to pay the bills Monday-Friday and because I never take my work home with me I’m really happy with the current state of play. It took a while with being more comfortable having a boring job but for the past little while, I’ve mostly been grateful for the stability (and lack of stress!)

      • MC

        My boss/coworkers joke that my unofficial job title is “Office Goddess,” which I love!

      • Eenie

        A good office admin is worth a million times their weight in gold! And anyone who is smart appreciates a good one. I’ve loved the magical people I’ve worked with who can just make problems disappear.

        • VKD_Vee

          I certainly don’t disagree! Unfortunately the role of administrative assistants is very firmly in the ‘female-dominated” category which means that it’s very often poorly regarded/paid. For example, IT support staff who I would say have a very similar education and skill level to the admin staff in larger organizations I’ve worked for, have always had healthier salaries. And those IT support staff are more likely to be men, which I don’t think is a coincidence.
          I’ve had some awesome and friendly coworkers who never hesitate to praise good admin staff for what they do. Unfortunately, it’s usually just in the form of kudos rather than adequate remuneration!
          (And Eenie, I’m not saying don’t tell me I’m magical! I’m taking ALL of the compliments I can get!)

          • Eenie

            I agree 100%. If only I got to set your salary!

      • Stability is underrated. I wish the messaging around “successful” careers looked more like this. I’ve had several conversations with peers ten or more years into their work lives who are just now realizing that stability and low-stress aren’t actually a trade off for ambition. Defining ambition and success broadly is the key.

    • SLG

      I read this article back when it first came out in 2011, and one line has always stuck with me: “I’m not particularly passionate about payments, but I am passionate about trying to build a good company.” https://signalvnoise.com/posts/2904-forget-passion-focus-on-proces

      I work for a bank. I’m not particularly passionate about the finer details of the banking industry, but I am passionate about taking mundane or complicated things and making them clear and empowering for the people who use them — which is what I do in my job. And while I definitely seek out opportunities to grow, I don’t feel like I need to be at the top of the company to do what I’m passionate about. And I’m certainly not interested in career growth at the cost of my personal life… which I know has cost me some opportunities because I’m not willing to work a crazy 80 hr/week job.

      You know what else I’m passionate about? Making enough money to be able to live simply without worrying about making the rent/mortgage/phone bill. I don’t need to be rich, but at various points in my career I chose my next step based on where the demand for talent was instead of just looking for passion, and I have absolutely no regrets. (High demand for talent tends to equate to livable salaries and reasonable hours, which is awesome.) I like my (small) house, and I like that I can pay for hobbies occasionally and CSA veggies every week, and I like that I can contribute to my community (financially and otherwise).

      All this is to say, I think we can define our passions broadly. It’s OK to want your job to fuel your life, not the other way around.

      • VKD_Vee

        I really appreciate this perspective!

        Someone was talking about this on APW last week, but more in the context that we can’t all be saving the world. What are the absolutely most important jobs in our society? School teacher? Health care practitioners? POTUS? Well, we can’t all be the president… and my guess is that Obama has a few folk doing his filing for him.

        • I think that’s a helpful perspective. I’m thinking about looking for a new job, and something I’ve thought about is: if the day-to-day tasks of the job are boring, is the organization I’m working for doing something that I consider worthwhile? For instance, I’ve been looking into government jobs for the stability, and part of me thinks that there’s some virtue in doing tedious work to serve the public rather tedious work than to serve a corporation’s private interests. But even having that kind of choice is a luxury.

    • stilllah

      Ugh, yes! I’ve been working in education at orchestras for 5 years and I’m realizing that I’m just not into giving it my all and working all the time as my coworkers are. I just want to find a job that pays me well and I can leave at the door when I go home. My whole life though I feel like I’ve been conditioned to need to work for a “cause” though and I don’t know how to apply or interview for jobs that don’t serve a mission. I’m more than happy to get my main fulfillment outside of work, I just don’t know how to start!

      • eating words

        Classical music solidarity! I started because I love the music, but over time I have become so much more passionate about the local all-volunteer theater company that I’m a part of. And yet, I don’t know if I can bring myself to leap into a different field professionally.

      • Elly

        Yes, please – this. It’s challenging to be in an environment where the majority of people expect that your job must BE your life, only interest, only drive. Even when it’s a good cause, it feels like you’re a horrible person for wanting to be able to leave work at work and focus on the people you love and other things you’re interested in at the end of the day.

    • Anna Plumb

      Or what about people (ahem, myself) who aren’t entrepreneurs doing super exciting things but who DO really enjoy their (boring) careers. I work for the government! And I like it! And I do good work! I’d be interested in the specific perspective of people who work for the government, both because we get such a bad rap and I’d love to counter that, AND because public employment has long been a place that is majority female (for a variety of reasons I could go into but I won’t). Government jobs are sort of quietly providing opportunity for a lot of career women, and are increasingly providing opportunity for women that combines a career ladder with good work-life balance. But I feel like this perspective never gets heard because everyone hates “government workers” so darn much.

      • k

        Working for the government is suuuch a different beast than anything else out there in the private sector and so very little of any work/career advice applies. (negotiating for a raise?? what??) I’d love to see more of a perspective from either Fed or State ladies making it happen in the weird weird parallel world of Public Sector

        • Kilodeuce

          ive been singing this tune for years! fed lady represent.

      • Rhie

        State government solidarity, gal :)

      • Arie

        Yes yes yes. So much yes.

      • Yes! This is me – I’m a public servant and I like it. No the work isn’t flashy, no we don’t have fruit bowls at work (or even milk in the fridge) but it can be intellectually stimulating, useful in a social sense, reasonably paid and a lot more woman-friendly (by and large) than the corporate world. The fact that you can usually leave by 6pm also means that it’s a pretty good hang out (or transition) for people who want to get creative work done but who want or need the stability of a full time job.

      • Emma Klues

        I would LOVE to talk about this, too! I am now at a director level at a local government and it’s fascinating. And something I never thought I would do. If you/APW goes this route at all, keep me posted.

      • Kilodeuce

        YES all of this. lady govies represent!

    • Lindsay

      thank you for suggesting this! i feel like the conversation about careers on the internet takes one of two tracks: 1. how lean in and be a high-powered corporate leader or 2. how to leave your job and become an entrepreneur/blogger/life coach who tells other people how to leave their jobs and become an entrepreneur/blogger/life coach who tells other people… and the cycle continues. if we all leave our jobs and become life coaches, who will do the actual work of running the systems that keep the world going? i work at a non-profit, and not a passion-fueled change-the-world type one, a bureaucratic one that runs mostly on government contracts. while i believe in the overall mission and importance of our work, my day-to-day involves a lot of minutiae that does not give my life purpose. but i leave work by 5:30 every day, make decent money, and have plenty of time to cook amazing food (which is one of my true passions, but not something i want to turn into a career!)

    • Colleen

      Yes. There’s so much out there (everywhere, not just here on APW) about pursuing your passion. My passions are spending time with my husband and re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” for the 75th time, while drinking hot toddies. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make a career out of those things – at least not one that pays my mortgage and lets me afford plane tickets to far off lands once a year. My job is fine and I’m good at it. It’s also at a huge corporation and I’m never going to feel passionate about it. I feel passionate about the things my paycheck allows me to do – travel with my guy, buy every copy of “P&P” I find, and shop for the makings of delicious adult beverages. I’d love to talk more about seeing work as a means to an end.

  • Ashlah

    Oh, and another: Substantial career change later in life. My mom is nearing 50 and is currently toying with the idea of going back to school and changing careers. She’s struggling with the pros and cons of the whole situation (will it really be worth it?), and is rightly concerned about balancing school with full time work. I’m sure APW would have some useful insight for her.

    • up_at_Dawn

      My mom too! (well..she’s a bit older)

  • Essssss

    Realistic, strategic financial planning for retirement, Especially for our recession-hit generation!

    • Stephanie

      Yes! particularly when you have present financial obligations such as childcare and massive student loans.

      • Essssss

        Yeah, or a partner in school, or expect to switch jobs a few times in your career and not be contributing to one single employee retirement account…

    • Amanda

      On a somewhat related note, I would love some resources for other health and logistical issues — How does health/vision/dental insurance work, and how expensive is it? How do tax write-offs work, and what sorts of things can you write off? What are some good ways to build a client base when you are just starting out? Etc. Etc.

      • Ashlah

        I’m losing dental coverage this year due to turning 26 (my work doesn’t offer dental), and I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions (and have conflicting thoughts myself) about whether it’s worth purchasing private dental insurance. I would love some content on health/vision/dental insurance.

        • Essssss

          I wound up getting a Dental Discount Card, which is kind of like paying a co-pay up front for discounted services, until I got a job with dental coverage. I found that for basic cleanings and exams, paying out of pocket or with a discount was less expensive, but now that we have the ACA Marketplace, there might be more options.

        • RMC

          I think this is incredibly valuable information but I would add a caveat that when this type of information is presented in a sponsored post, I can’t take it that seriously. I understand that much of APW needs to be sponsored in order to pay the bills – which I totally respect and appreciate – but if that’s what a resource would look like, then maybe APW is not the place to get that info in a structured way and maybe asking for recs in a happy hour thread is a better option.

        • anon

          I am not sure how much a cleaning costs out of pocket, but I didn’t get my teeth cleaned for… 4 years? And finally went in to find 7 cavities, 3 of which were serious, 1 of which turned into needing a root canal. All of which would have been avoided with cleanings. : So that was well over $2000 of work WITH insurance… there’s some risk acceptance to take account, and like I said I’m not sure how much insurance costs or how much a cleaning costs without it, but definitely don’t not get them done. @___@

        • Not Sarah

          I would look into your Explanation of Benefits and/or ask your dentist how much basic cleanings cost / the normal work you usually get done per year. Then look at how much those would cost with a private dental insurance plan. Which works better for you: paying out of pocket or the private plan? It looks like at my dentist, my two cleanings per year cost a total of $351. So I would go for a private dental insurance plan if the cost per year of premiums + two cleanings was less than $351 and otherwise, I would probably just pay out of pocket.

          • J

            Just make sure that, when you find out the price, it’s for someone who is coming in without insurance. Often, the total price (paid by you + insurance company) that you see on your bill when you do have insurance is a price that’s been negotiated by your insurer, and the price you’d pay when you’re uninsured could be much higher. (Not Sarah, you may be totally out of pocket, but that may be relevant info for someone who has insurance or has had it in the past and is using that price to make a decision.)

        • T

          Try your state exchange, or the federal exchange if your state doesn’t have one. I pay $15 per month for dental through the DC exchange, and the office copy is only $25. Winning.

      • Laura

        i love these ideas :)

      • Emily

        Oops, comment in the wrong place!

    • TeaforTwo

      Now that I’m two-years-plus married, my favourite APW content is the financial content.

  • Fiona

    As someone who is fairly ambitious and in higher education – a field where mobility is linked to traditional success – I’m interested in a discussion about cosmopolitans vs. locals and the value of being involved in the community vs. involved in your career.

  • love my work, just not 24/7

    Any advice on how to say no to clients or at the very least actually *manage* client expectations? I have my own small consulting company (not quite freelancing because we operate on a retainer basis) and my awesome partner/best friend and I are starting to experience very serious burn out from our biggest client (2/3 of our rapidly growing $$), who tends to operate believing that we’re available all hours of the day and willing/able to do any and every project, on their whim.

    To be fair, we haven’t been great about setting expectations and boundaries, so it’s more that we’re not sure how to *begin* doing that without alienating them. We knew long hours would be part of the deal because it’s an international company and when you’re Skyping on the reg with Russia, well, you have to stay up late sometimes. But we still didn’t see these 16+ hour days plus most weekends coming and we’d like to start maintaining some kind of work/life balance again, especially since this contract has no end in sight (Which is great! Except for our sanity!)

    More succinctly: How do you say no or manage the expectations of a very high maintenance client without constantly fearing that you’ll piss them off so much that they’ll just cancel your ongoing retainer?

    • Sarah E

      Braid Creative and Being Boss podcast both address client management regularly, they would be good places to look up some tips.

    • Lawyerette510

      Oh I love this topic. I don’t work for myself, but I do work in the context of consulting. It’s certainly an uphill battle to claw-back time once boundaries have been crossed, but it’s so valuable. I’ve found what’s helpful is to start off with small but firm steps, and to communicate them ahead of time. For instance, if clients have gotten used to you being available from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm M-F and also most of the day Saturday and Sunday, a first small step could be to cut-off communication an hour earlier in the evenings, you and your co-founder would decide together what the boundary was, and on Monday of one weeks start communicating to your contacts that beginning the following week, as a company you were unavailable after 8:00 pm, unless a meeting is mutually scheduled outside those times. Then, you and your co-founder don’t under any circumstances other than life, limb or liberty, respond after 8:00 pm. Then some time goes by, everyone gets used to those boundaries, and you set a new boundary, for instance Sundays.

      In the meantime, as you continue to get new clients, you set stronger and clearer boundaries with them from the get-go, and if you are temporarily moving boundaries because of a business necessity, you let them know it’s temporary.

      Clearly you’re doing great if the contract is humming along and growing and it sounds like you’re deeply integrated with the major client, so if you’re drawing boundaries so you can continue to give them the best service and you are communicating them clearly, you’re going to come of as professional and it should be respected. If the client has concerns about the boundaries, take the time to talk through their concerns and think about how to address them, then come back to them with solutions that don’t involve you being available to the extent you’re burning yourselves out.

  • Rose

    Maybe too specific, but something about grad school? Especially sometimes, for me, the feeling that life’s a bit on hold for, like, 5+ years (for a PhD, anyway), and ways to navigate doing that with also building a new family together. Plus just the general stress, etc, of grad school.

    • Chris

      Feminist sanity in academia:

      Academic professionalism: (or just read the book)

      some academic life advice

      The book Mama PhD is also a good read.

    • guest

      My very short advice for life in graduate school and academia:
      1. Try as hard as you can not to compare yourself to others (of course you will fail in this, I do)
      2. In terms of work, never worry too much about what is more than 1 semester away. Because by the time you reach that point you will have learned so much that you will be tackling it from a different
      perspective and it won’t be so bad.
      And make time for your family! Like try not to work on Saturdays and Sundays, it will make you happier and healthier and able to get work done faster on weekdays.

      • A.

        Truth. And grad school once you’re on the other end just makes you appreciate grad school more :) (I got my PhD in engineering and have been working in industry for coming up on one year now)

  • E.

    Here’s a question that I’m currently struggling with- how do you get members of your team to follow through on their part without ratting them out to admin? There’s not a hierarchy on the team, we’ve tried reminders, they still drop the ball on things that affect the team, so usually it falls to the women on the team to actually do the task because it has to get done.

    • Can I ask why you wouldn’t be ok with bringing their not doing their job to someone higher up the chain? Workplace culture definitely varies a lot from job to job, but I feel like professionally, taking a problem to a manager is the correct way to solve it when you can’t get through to your co-worker on your own. I work in a large team where I assign tasks and deadlines to people across different departments, and follow something like this when trying to get them to do whatever it is I need them to do.
      – hi, here’s your task, here’s your deadline
      – oh hi, here’s a reminder that I need that thing from you really soon, don’t forget X is your deadline
      – oh hey, today is your deadline, where’s the thing?
      – (copying their manager) hey, your thing was due yesterday, i really need it, please send asap (generally this is the kick in the pants the person needs to do the thing)
      – (email just the manager) hey, I can’t get the person to do the thing, please help (if previous step didn’t work, this pretty much always will)

      I always do email so there’s a recorded trail.

      If someone’s not doing their job, their manager should know. And if you’ve clearly communicated what you need, multiple times without getting through to them, they haven’t really left you any option other than to go to someone else to solve the problem.

      • E.

        I think you’re right that it may have reached that point, but it’s just hard because we work really closely together and it feels like I’m tattling on them or something.

        • A.

          Agreed with Laura! “if you’ve clearly communicated what you need, multiple times without getting through to them, they haven’t really left you any option other than to go to someone else to solve the problem.” They need to own up to their mistakes/lack of accomplishing what needs to be accomplished and you shouldn’t be punished by taking on more than your job dictates/you’re paid for/what someone ELSE is paid to do for THEM not doing their job. Good luck!

        • Kayla

          In a similar situation, I went to my manager with a whole bunch of numbers showing that I was doing most of a coworker’s work and used that to ask for a raise. It had the effect of ratting him out (which, good). But it framed it as “I’m a very valuable employee who picks up slack and makes sure things get done” instead of “hey this other guy sucks.”

        • Suz

          This should be the topic – why do we feel like we’re ratting someone out when they aren’t doing their job and holding up their end of the social bargain in the first place?

  • Emily

    I’m someone who earned some extra cash in high school teaching piano lessons. 12ish years later, I’m still doing that (in what is a female-dominated field) alongside a minimum wage job during the day cooking in a restaurant (male-dominated field, so yay). I love both my jobs but neither are going to ever get me in a financially secure place. I have financial security because I’m married and that’s just me being honest about my reality. I don’t know how to go about the traditional way of “getting skills.” Do I have to YouTube tutorial my way into doing projects that create some portfolio that impresses someone someday should I ever need a “real” job? What is a real job, even, and how do I get one….. I went to college for piano performance but didn’t graduate. I don’t want to spend money going back, I just don’t think that’s in the cards for me at this point in life. Basically, what are the marketable skills out there and how do I get them in an impressive-enough way if I don’t do the traditional college route?

    I’d also love some freaking information on how to make a business plan. Like, Actual Information 101, not assuming I already know everything about business, like how to determine my demographic and that sort of thing.

    • eating words

      Is your schedule flexible enough to get some gigs as an accompanist? I’ve been asked to accompany various high school musicals and community theater, and since I love accompanying, I wish I had the kind of schedule that would let me do that once in a while.
      Also, in case this is helpful, here’s a blog about finding your career strengths, focused on music and the arts.

  • NatalieN

    Ooo. I have a couple questions for this post.

    1 – my boss and I are working towards transitioning me into the role I want (project manager), I’m starting with some smaller projects to manage, but the plan is to have me be the PM for a big project starting next fiscal year. I’m thinking that this will entail a promotion and pay raise of some sort, but it’d be the first I’ve ever received (been out of college just about 3 years now). Question: what has been your experience will role changes/promotions? From your experience to they come with salary increases that you were expecting or did you have to negotiate?

    2 – Husband and I are thinking of having a baby in the next year – 2 years (!), but when I look up the cost of childcare (we live in SB), I get really concerned about affording it/we both work full time 8-5 and I dont necessarily want to put our future baby in child care 40yr/week – does any one have experience talking with their boss about working from home a day a week or doing a 4-10 schedule? To my knowledge no one at our work does this (I’m an engineer), so I have no idea how I’d even bring it up, and if it’d be better to bring it up before/during pregnancy or when the baby is born..?

    • Alexa

      I wrote below about recently gaining the ability to periodically work from home when I had increased responsibilities and my workplace wasn’t able to raise my salary. Honestly, part of my thinking behind it was that my husband and I are hoping to get pregnant in the near future, and if I can establish now that that’s a way I can be useful and effective then maybe it’ll be easier to sell multiple work from home days as a post-baby plan.

      I think if your work is stuff that you’re able to do from home and that’s something you’d be interested in then it’s worth bringing up in the negotiations that will (presumably) accompany your promotion.

      Although as far as that goes, make sure you’re talking with your manager to clarify expectations along those lines before it happens. It’s one of those things that seems like it should be automatic, but in practice that can depend on the company and how structured it is/isn’t.

    • Carolyn S

      I’m an engineer and there has been a trend of women at our company coming back from mat leave (I’m in Canada, so it’s a long mat leave) to 3 or 4 days a week, so somewhere from a 21 to 32 hour a week schedule. There are challenges though. It seems to work better for the people whose roles are more technical, because they can do the design work on a more personally tailored schedule. Those that are more project managers struggle from what I’ve seen. Some of them work 4 days a week and are on call the 5th, some have just ended up back at 5. At my company at least, you have to be pretty stubborn to stick with it, and it definitely has the potential to limit your career for a bit. The one good friend I have brought it up about half way through her mat leave, so about 6 months before she came back to work. If you aren’t going to be away from work that long, I think it’s a conversation you have with your boss before you are off for the baby. And look around and see if any in your company is doing a reduced work week for whatever reason and file that away as an example for your discussions.

    • TeaforTwo

      I am not trying to single you out, but I have read recently in a few places about women working from home to care for kids.

      How does that work? Is the idea that you are working and somehow caring for a baby all day in your house, or that the baby is in daycare but you at least have one less day of commuting and can run a load of laundry while you work, or that “working from home” is a euphemism and just means that you’ll check emails during naptime?

      I mean, I understand it when colleagues stay home for a day with a sick nine year old and are working all day – the kid is sleeping or watching tv, and just needs an adult in the house. But taking care of a baby is time consuming real work. Are employers really expecting people to do their professional job in the same hours that they are nursing/burping/rocking/soothing/playing with a baby?

      • NatalieN

        I don’t really know what working from home with a kid would be like. But when I’m sick and work from home I’m not as productive, but I still get done what I need to do in a day. I call into meetings, answer emails, write and route documents, track my project schedules… And what I do know about newborns from my friends is that they sleep, and some of them sleep a lot.

      • Amy March

        Many employers in law require you to tell them what your childcare plan is when you are requesting a permanent work from home set up for exactly that reason. You can’t take care of a newborn and still do a full days worth of work!

        If someone working for me wanted to stay home with their child one day a week without childcare I would say no, tbh. You can get childcare or go to a part time schedule, but not work with a baby.

  • Career stuff has been in the forefront of my mind for a couple of years, and something that I wrote about in my APW Internship application. I did the college & grad school thing, and started a career in the sciences, before making a career change 3 years ago. At the time, I thought I needed to get out of the lab…but now I think I need to get out of the corporate world, or at least out of giant companies. My dream would be to cobble together a living from freelance writing, teaching yoga, and selling handmade knitted items. As much as I yearn for the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I don’t know if it’s for me, and I’m afraid to take the plunge.

    So what I’d like to see here:
    *stories from female entrepreneurs, both those who are successful and those who weren’t
    *Maybe a virtual mentorship program? Some way of getting ladies the support they need in their career.
    *Info on making the leap from senior individual contributor to manager – I’ve heard this is the hardest leap to make
    *Info on how to be successful in your 9-5 while growing your side business
    *Open thread on what things worked & didn’t work in your career – I also learn so much from the open threads.

    • Bsquillo

      +1 for a virtual mentorship program- that’s a great idea!

    • eating words

      Ooh, I would LOVE to see more discussion on how to make the leap to being a manager. Great idea.

    • Danielle

      Love the idea of a virtual mentorship program!

    • “*Info on how to be successful in your 9-5 while growing your side business” ME TOO

    • Laura Bennett

      Have you checked out the Design Sponge Life & Business section? Lots of good info there for what you’re considering

  • Amy March

    I’d love to read about women in law, finance, and business who are at a stage in their career where the next 5-8 years have the potential for major business steps (partnership, promotions, interesting lateral opportunities) and how they’re going to go after them. So many of my friends are at the same stage as me, but looking at the next few years as baby making season, and as someone not currently growing a person it’s starting to feel lonely!

    • KM

      Second this!

    • Emily

      You aren’t alone – I’m in finance (previously investment banking, now corporate development / M&A), focusing on oil and gas. I’m 28, and workwise I finally feel like I have a bit of running room and ability to learn and excel. What with what’s going on in energy especially, the next 5 years are make or break for me and I have the potential to work on career changing deals. Always happy to chat further with others who are pursuing perhaps less common paths!!

    • A.

      And also how the ones looking at it as baby making season can not get pushed out! My mom went through menopause at 37, and seeing as how I’ve basically followed in her footsteps for everything, I don’t have the “luxury” of waiting until I’ve “made it” in my job (after my bajillion years of school…) to have kids, but I don’t want to get pushed out just because I’m having a kid(s) at some point in the next four years

    • Laura

      this! i’m in law and just starting out, and i love to hear from those who are a few years ahead. i love the idea of the ‘major business steps’ emphasis

    • Peabody_Bites

      I’m here! I was 6 yrs qual at Big Law when I took a commercial role at a corporate doing M&A and structured finance. I’ve been doing that 4 years and now lead 2 teams totalling 10 people doing 2 or 3 £500m+ deals a year. I’ve also had a baby and am thinking about number 2 – but this next period still has the potential for major business steps for me – if I didn’t want a second baby I’d be on the board in the next 5 years, and I’d definitely ike to talk more about “conventional” career paths.

  • emmers

    Stuff about retirement savings, options for retirement savings, the importance of starting early, and what that means. I went to a talk in grad school that literally changed my life because they had a chart about what happens if you give X at a certain age, vs when you’re older. Another thing from that talk that helped me a lot was to realize that if your retirement contribution is pre-tax, if you want your paycheck to reduce by $x (say, $100), you can actually give more to retirement, if you’re factoring in tax. And about how you should always at least contribute as much as they match, if your employer matches anything. I sometimes think about how my financial situation would be different if I hadn’t have attended that talk.

  • Cdn icecube

    I’d love an article about how people are keeping the faith in a crappy economy. I live in Calgary, AB and with the news saying that 1000x people are being laid off every day and memes going around about how a bucket of KFC is more expensive than a barrel of oil it’s hard to stay positive in an increasingly doom and gloom work environment. Going to work just sucks these days..

    • Emily

      Represent for team oil and gas – I’m in Houston. It’s rough out there. I have to keep reminding myself that out of great struggle can come great opportunity, and to keep the focus on making myself the best possible person I can be

      • Kara

        Solidarity….I’m oil and gas, too. Nothing like watching your company trending because of impending layoffs. sigh.

        • Eenie

          Fiance is, I finally got out to a different industry. It is just rough right now. Especially horrible when the town you call home lives and breathes with the company.

      • BSM

        My husband is in finance for oil & gas, so I totally feel you. Trying to keep his spirits up while also tempering expectations and planning for a possible exit is toooooough. Sounds like you’re doing a good job staying positive!

  • Bsquillo

    For those of us who have toyed with the idea of one day working for ourselves or starting our own company, maybe some sort of “So you think you want to be an entrepreneur? Here’s what it takes” info. Basic, beginner stuff about what it’s like and what skills you need for the long haul.

    I also always want to know about resources to continue developing hard skills I may have learned in school: coding, web analytics, basic graphic design, etc.

    • A.

      I’d check out Udacity or EdX or Coursera and see what they have available for [free] basic programming classes :) Some of the ones that will “certify” you will require a fee, but there’s a slew of free ones!

    • Carolyn S

      I’m learning python through the free course on Code Academy and it’s not bad.

      • Bsquillo

        Yeah, I did several Code Academy tutorials on HTML when I taught myself some basics over Thanksgiving break in preparation for a pretty sudden job interview. It worked- I got the job! Website development and coding is a small part of the work I do now, but I was surprised to find that I really enjoy it, and I’d like to learn a lot more.

    • In Canada there’s a non-profit called Ladies Learning Code who are awesome (posting so that any Canadians reading this post and want to learn code can check it out). Maybe there’s something similar in the US? Also, my local library offers free basic photoshop and video editing classes, so that could be somewhere to look too.

    • disqus_S9qO1sswgd

      Since you specifically asked about learning to code, I’ll share that I recently started a small business offering a self-paced Python course online. It’s specifically geared towards public health professionals, but it’s relevant to anyone interested in data analysis. The website is http://www.episkills.com. Learning to code completely changed my life (really, it did), so even if you go a different route I highly encourage you to learn.

  • Kayjayoh

    My biggest frustration is that I cannot travel as much as I want to. There is no job-related travel for my current job (which is fine. job-related travel can be it’s own kind of hell). More importantly, while I think 90% of what I do could be done anywhere that I have access to a computer and the files/websites I need, there is very little chance of being able to work remotely as an administrative assistant.

    My husband can work remotely, which was great when he moved to my town (before I then moved to his) and when we have traveled for Christmas. He can work from home, he can work from someone else’s home. It does mean that he has to work his hours when we go away for Christmas, but it also means we can be somewhere for an extended period of time and he doesn’t eat up his vacation time. Anytime I am not in the office, I’m either using vacation (sick/personal/holiday) time or not getting paid.

    I wish I had more flexibility, but I can’t see that happening without an actual career change. So…pretty frustrating. (Yet in the grand scheme of things, so minor.)

    • Kayjayoh

      I definitely am not cut out to be an entrepreneur.

    • Lisa

      I feel you so hard on this. All of the jobs I’ve had usually don’t necessitate that I’m on-site 40 hours per week, and most of the job could be done at home. How do I find something that allows me to do work I’m “qualified” for while also getting the benefit of working from home/anywhere in the world I happen to be?

      • Kayjayoh

        I know I’m the one to get the mail and order office supplies. So sure, I need to be around sometimes. But when I’m not here, the mail manages to find it’s way (and we don’t get much mail) and I don’t need to order office supplies every day. But there’s this idea that the admin needs to be here, in this little office.

        I’m not the receptionist. Most of what I’m doing could be done anywhere. But the 10% of stuff that needs me onsite tends to need me onsite at unpredictable times.

        • Kayjayoh

          It occurs to me that I’m having a meeting with the administrative officer tomorrow. Maybe I’ll bring some of this up to her. I don’t need to be able to work remotely all or even most of the time. But it would be nice to be able to do it occasionally, especially when we are between semesters and there is hardly anyone in the office.

          • Lisa

            My major irritant right now is that my new job at Badtown U has a time clock, which I have to punch in and out of within a seven minute window every day. Even the people who are salaried have to badge in at least once a day to prove they came to work. I know the work I do facing professors and students (helping with interviews, meetings, etc.) needs to be done on-site, but 95% of the time it’s sending e-mails back and forth. I could totally do that from the comfort of my home between doctor’s appointments that I didn’t have to request off 1.75 hours to make!

          • Kayjayoh

            Oh man. I can barely remember the last time I had an actual clock to punch, instead of just noting my hours. I’m sorry.

            Thing I am grateful for: my doctor and dentist are at the university medical building, one parking lot away from me. This means that most appointments can be done on my actual lunch break, and I don’t need to eat up sick time to cover them.

  • Chris

    Being ambitious and feminist in a work environment that thinks women are simply not as smart as men.

    I’m super pissed about all the crap that I have to put up with from the bro’s and their old boy bosses, but I also recognize 1) being angry hurts my soul, my productivity, my relationship with my still-learning-about-feminsim-spouse, and my (all male) peers and 2) calling them out on their shit doesn’t help me, and does makes me look like I’m just whining that I didn’t get XXX thing when they can all come up with post hoc reasons that the bro who got it deserved it more.

    I feel like I’ve got a handle on the workplace behavior aspect, but I don’t really have a good sense of how to navigate the emotional aspect. (I don’t want to not care: this is a systemic injustice in the world and I should be fixing it, but… it’s bad for me to care too much).

    Finally, I’m a white kid, but I’m sure people of color have dealt with this problem in even more pervasive and complex ways; I’m sure somebody here could speak to that perspective.

  • Laurel

    I’m interested to read through these comments. I definitely agree with the couple that have mentioned all things finances. When do I need a professional planner/ advisor? Setting savings goals for retirement, kids, etc.
    I also love hearing from people about their mistakes … errr “learning experiences.”
    Would love to hear from people who’ve gone to grad school after spending years outside of the academia realm.

  • js

    I am aware this is not a Mommy blog, that women may not be in accordance as to whether being a Mom is a job, etc., and that being a Mom, working or otherwise, looks different for many people, but I would love to see more of that discussion happening here.

  • a single sarah

    I want more discussions of how people switch between prioritizing one partner’s career vs the other’s. Especially when people are in careers that expect mobility. Or when people are in up-or-out tracks.

    • Essssss


    • Vilmos Kovacs

      I moved for my husband’s job and it sucked. It was so hard. I think the only way it worked for us was (i) we lived apart until I found a job I was happy to move for too and (ii) my job gets the day to day priority. His is more flexible, so he does all the home logistics. It has helped bring us back to equal footing.

      • a single sarah

        This! I commented to a friend years ago that I couldn’t think of a couple in our social class where they hadn’t either 1) been long-distance at some point due to a career move or 2) had one person in a not-so-good job so they could be local for another job.

        I think our society hasn’t figured out how to have two professional partners. I want more on how people are figuring it out.

        • Ais

          Yes. Also, sometimes the moves don’t work out the way you expect. We moved to Asia for my fiancé’s job. Because we aren’t married yet it was really difficult for me to get a visa, and the move was definitely a leap of faith. In the end, I was unemployed (with a job offer) for a month while my work visa was negotiated.

          And yet, when I started work it was BRILLIANT. I love my job here and have had opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. His has been fine, but nothing special. We’re about to move back now (as was always planned) and I’ve really advanced my career but while his certainly hasn’t been hurt, it’s harder to see the immediate benefits.

          Moving anywhere as a couple is really complicated. There are so many expectations, and it totally upends your status quo (we could only get a joint bank account here and we both hate it). People get homesick, there are financial pressures you can’t predict and your support network isn’t there (we have an 8 hour time difference – it’s impossible!). And yet, you muddle on and it all works out.

          Have faith, and enjoy the journey. The first few months are definitely the hardest, but our experience has been wonderful. And Paris is wonderful!

        • Anna Wagner

          I don’t quite know how to figure this out yet, but we’re struggling with it as well. My husband have dated since high school, and right after college I moved for a job while he started grad school for his PhD. We were 5 hours apart for his first 2 1/2 years of grad school while I worked at a job I loved. When we got engaged I knew I had to move, and luckily he goes to school in our home state and it was a move I had eventually wanted anyways and I was able to find a good job here but it was hard to leave where I was.

          What happens after his PhD is the scary thing. He really wants to go into academia, where both the options and the options he’d actually want are very limited, with most not really being in a location I prefer. Plus, since it’s so hard to get a tenure-track position, there’s the chance he’d have to move to take a post-doc somewhere and then move again for tenure-track. My job has a decent amount of flexibility and can be done remotely in some cases, but I want to be close to family when we have kids, which is limiting. He is starting to consider the private sector now that he’s seeing friends struggle to get tenure-track positions, which I feel torn about because it’s easier on me but I know he wouldn’t be as happy with it.

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      UGH, yes, this. After my fiance searched for a job in my city for a year and found nothing, I left the job I loved to move halfway across the country so he could start working. I was incredibly lucky to find ANOTHER awesome job a few months later, but I know we’ll have to do this all over again when my fiance decides to go for his PhD. I know that it’s easier for me to find a job because my skills are less niche, but I resent that it means my career always has to take a backseat to his.

    • Laura

      i really like this idea, and would offer this as well: how to handle/manage/navigate when you and your partner are in the same profession. ie – my husband and i are both lawyers; how to navigate the expectations of those jobs while not competing (‘my job is longer/harder/more stressful’) and retaining some professional and personal space

    • Definitely this one. I moved to Paris for my husband’s job because why wouldn’t we. In my old city, I had a pretty good gig in advertising and had built up a really strong network. It was a bummer to leave, but for a pretty exciting reason. Now, I’m trying to figure out how I want to spend my days while awaiting my work visa.

      Another thing… it’s also strange to shift from being the breadwinner to being supported. Maybe that’s another dynamic to explore here.

    • AmandaBee

      Yes – this is a great discussion to have, and I feel like we don’t have it enough. Sometimes one person’s job for various reasons has to be put before the others, so how do you negotiate that? As a woman with the more rigid job demands than my (male) partner, I’d also love to discuss some of the societal expectations that it’s always the woman whose career takes a back seat. It’s extra hard to negotiate career moves when you’re also violating some deeply-held gender assumptions.

    • NW

      Last year my husband’s company made us a great offer of a relocation to another state that would include a promotion. We couldn’t say no even though we had purchased our first home 7 months before and I had started a new job 4 months before the offer came in. We decided it was too good to pass up and it turned out to be a great decision; we love our new home, I love my new job, he loves his position, we’ve made new friends, and the best part was we were able to adopt two dogs since moving here (it was one of conditions for moving).

      I don’t see what we did as prioritizing his career, but he is in a specialized field and I’m in social work which is easier to find a position in.

    • Anon

      This X 1,000.

      We have different roles in the same industry – one is in consulting and the other is working at a public company. I make more now, but that could change easily depending on promotions and if we each stay where we are. In the next year or so, we both want to move up in our organizations, both want to go to grad school, obtain relevant certifications/credentials, and on top of that we also want to expand our family soon..

      I’d love to hear more about how others prioritize career opportunities in a relationship with two fairly ambitious people. We want to make the best choices for our family and our individual careers, but right now we’re both making similar salaries, work similar hours, and would equally benefit from grad school/certifications/promotions/working more, so it’s hard to figure out who should go first…and then what would happen once kids come into the mix and how/if we should figure that into our current decision-making.

  • Jessica

    This is hard to do, but right now I’m dealing with trying to figure out if it’s time to leave the job, or if I’m just going through a rough patch with dramatic board members. So, should I stay or should I go now?

  • Brianne

    I love love my job right now, but before this one, I kept feeling like I had stalled out in career growth, that I wasn’t being respected (in non-profits), and that I needed to get out but had no idea how. People talk about how people now have 7 different careers over the span of their working life, but what does that actually mean? How do people make those leaps?

    • Emma Klues

      As someone with some nonprofit experience, email me if you want to chat specifics :) emmalouklues at gmail dot com.

  • Brianne

    Also! How do you make career decisions that affect your partner (i.e. moving out of state, huge commutes, etc.), and make it feel respectful and successful for both parties. If it’s not, what do you do about it?

    • Danielle

      And vice-versa. (Like your partner has an opportunity, and you want to consider how it will affect both of you.)

  • I’d love to see more conversation about how associate-level working women can be assertive and effective when working with older generations who might have more “old-school” understandings of how to communicate at work. I’m frankly tired of feeling guilty for having opinions and voicing them with confidence, and want to know how to acknowledge other people’s years of experience while still educating them on the idea that, hey, women have good ideas too, and it’s a good idea to listen.

    • Danielle

      Oh g-d, yes. Especially bc many of those older managers are male, and not used to listening to women at work.

      And I don’t want to have to be NICE to get my ideas across!

    • eating words

      Not to be a total cynic, but in those cases, the solution doesn’t necessarily lie with you. The problem is unlikely to be solved by how you express yourself, because the crux of the problem is in those older generations and how they see you. If they refuse to let their attitudes and ideas evolve along with the world, it’s a much bigger problem, and you can tie yourself into knots trying to say something the ‘right’ way while getting nowhere. It can be extraordinarily difficult to lead people toward change.

  • I’m interested in convos about being a good manager, as a lot of my friends and I are now in that stage of our careers for the first time.

    Also: how to legitimize and bill for emotional labor.

    • Emily

      Emotional labor! Yes!

    • SLG

      I’d also love convos about being a good manager.

      (I’ll also throw in here one resource that my kick-ass female director recommended and I’ve found useful: http://www.manager-tools.com)

      • gonzalesbeach

        ditto – I’d like to learn more around leading people. particularly leadership during times of change.

    • stilllah

      Do you read Ask A Manager? She has really practical advice that I think fits with the APW reader vibe! Her comment section is also super active, thoughtful, and helpful.

      • Yes I LOVE AAM! And I direct all my fellow managers there whenever they need help with a situation.

    • Steph

      I’m also interested in this generally. In addition, I am interested in convos about how much overlap there is between managing and mentorship, especially when managing younger women.

    • Anna Plumb

      I’m also a first time manager and would love this.

  • Emily

    If one isn’t in a market that publishes salaries, how do you know what the market rate is or what is reasonable value? I’m all for negotiating but I have no idea what my coworkers make and there seems to be a wide range in my field.

    • eating words

      Yes to this! I’m having such a hard time figuring out what certain positions should earn, and almost all of the jobs I’m applying for are trying to make me name my salary requirements early in the process. it’s a challenge.

    • lildutchgrrl

      This is one of the reasons I was so happy to move into a government job, even though I was taking a pay cut. Public sector salaries are published, transparent, and based on time/experience on the job — and there are regular increases and opportunities for advancement. I wasn’t getting that in the private sector, even though I was well-paid for the work I was doing, and I wasn’t likely to move up from the level I was working (even if I wanted to).

      • Mary Jo TC

        This is a major reason why the wage gap is smaller in the public sector than the private sector.

        • TeaforTwo

          I work for a provincial government, and while there is a public sentiment that we are overpaid, a recent third-party studied showed that the MEN aren’t overpaid compared to comparably qualified men doing similar private sector work…there are just more women working here, and the wage gap isn’t as big.

    • SLG

      Websites like GlassDoor can sort of help, but what’s most useful is networking / informational interviews with people in your industry but ahead of you in their careers. Ask them lots of questions about what skills are needed, what’s most looked for in XYZ position, and also ask, “What would be a salary range that’s considered normal for X?” If you ask enough people that question, you’ll get a pretty good sense of what’s out there.

      (Oh and I think AskAManager.org has some good posts on salary research as well.)

  • lindsayinMPLS

    I want to talk about when you are much more professionally ambitious than your partner. My job is more demanding than my spouse’s, plus I chair a nonprofit board that takes up a huge amount of time but is incredibly rewarding and great for my professional growth, plus my contract writing side hustle. So there’s the logistics piece of it – I’ve got stuff after work 2-3 days a week and how do I balance this work I love with intentionally creating time for the person I love – but also the responsibility and finances piece too. I literally make twice as much as my spouse, which we’ve navigated all right so far (he’s rad).

  • Just Me

    I would love more discussion on balancing career aspirations, salary, and work life balance. I’m currently making bank (not a big law salary, but 6 figures a few years out from grad school was not in my plans!) I’m working way to hard and not very happy but it feels impossible to step back before I have a much bigger pot of retirement savings. Also – I’ll be failing as a feminist if I lean out! (Kidding….mostly). I know that many are still struggling to find good employment but I’d love to hear from others who have ‘made it’ and are trying to figure out if the life tradeoffs are worth it.

  • ktmarie

    After reading through a lot of the questions that have been posted already – I think there is prime opportunity for APW to do a joint post with Ask A Manager which also has some excellent advice and is run by a woman!

    • I was about to post this! AAM and APW are the two sites I check each morning, I’d love to see some cross-posting between the two!

    • KM

      oooh great collaboration idea! I loooove Ask A Manager

  • ktmarie

    I would love to have a discussion or advice around how to make tangible steps toward more progressive benefits and policies for women in the workforce. I’m involved in a couple of committees right now on a state and national level in my field that focus on advocacy for women in technology where I feel like I am in a position to advocate for policy changes and I’d love to make sure that I am approaching that a way that is both feasible and makes a real impact. Or even how to advocate in small ways on a local/company level.

  • CP2011

    I love this! I would like to hear about how other women create flexibility in conventional workplaces, and from a philosophical standpoint, how people deal with the seeming permanence of work as a constant in their life. Like I realized today that my boss has worked for this company for the entire duration of my life, plus jobs before that. It is kind of depressing to think about how confined my life will likely be to that structure (Especially knowing that I have no interest in being my own boss).

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    I love this post, because as long as I’ve been an adult I’ve known two things about myself: 1. Corporate life is not for me, and 2. Entrepreneurship is ALSO not for me. I’m an artsy, creative person who also needs a bit of structure. I feel lucky to have found my calling–arts administration–pretty early in my professional life!

    One thing I would love people to talk about more is that you don’t need to aspire to some flashy, sexy career in order to feel successful. I would have loved to tell my college self that no, I didn’t need to be a New York Times reporter to feel professionally fulfilled…and in fact I’m better off having found something that gives me a better work-life balance! Something about growing up in this country made me think I needed to focus on entrepreneurship and leadership and ladder-climbing; that’s great for some people, but it’s not going to be applicable for most of society.

    • emilyg25

      Artsy creative person doing higher ed marketing here. Not particularly glamorous or well-paid, but goo, fun work that let’s me be around cool people and go home at 5 every day.

    • J

      “…you don’t need to aspire to some flashy, sexy career in order to feel successful.” I totally believe this intellectually and about other people, but I’d really like advice/stories to help me believe it about myself. I like earning gold stars, but I like having a sane life and spending time with my kid more, at least at this time in my life. But as good as I feel about what I have chosen, I’m still working to feel good about what I’ve, not given up, but made less of a priority for now.

  • Mooza

    I don’t know what I would ask, but this post made me feel like sharing.
    I’ve been searching for a job for the last two months, basically going absolutely crazy feeling like I’ve gone from 100 mph (amazing grad school programme) to 0. I wasn’t dealing with it very well, to say the least. I know two months is not a long time. I know, I know. But it was still tough.
    Last month an opportunity came up that is basically a dream job, and I applied as soon as I saw it even though the chances were extremely low and the job would involve a massive relocation. Well, be careful what you wish for – I got the job yesterday. Now I have to move not only to a different country but to a different continent. In a week’s time. Which means I’ll also be separating from my husband, at least until he’ll be able to join me in the summer.
    Which makes me feel a) very very sad to leave, b) confused – do I really want this job?? I thought I did; c) scared – can I hack it? d) Guilty for leaving my husband (albeit temporarily) for a job.
    Any thoughts would be highly appreciated.

    • Kristina

      First I would say congrats on getting your as-of-last-month dream job! That’s wonderful and a huge change. As someone who is considering a promotion that would change my current work-life balance enormously, I keep reminding myself that it’s not set in stone. If I end up unhappy with the change, I can always look for a new job or ask to go back to my old one. I’m also an artist and leaning in to my day job brings up so much for me about what I really want out of life but again, not set in stone. I can still do all the things I want in life and move ahead in my day job — it’s not an either/or.

      I say go for it with an open mind. Since your husband would be able to join you in the summer, you have a few months to see how it works out for you and you can always decide you want to move back or decide you want to do any number of things after trying it. You won’t know unless you try and if you don’t try, you’ll always wonder about that dream job. It’ll be scary but all jobs are scary in the beginning. Whenever I’ve moved somewhere new, I plan lots of activities for myself so that I feel like I know my new home better. Being busy helps me with being scared.

    • SimpleMarine

      I signed in just to respond to this comment. There’s a book by Tara Mohr called Playing Big that you need to buy or checkout from your library asap. There’s one section in particular that addresses fear, that I think is applicable to your situation. The gist of it is that there are two types of fear – the “ack a spider!” fear and the fear of being in a new, powerful place. I found an essay she wrote that summarizes: http://www.jonathanfields.com/is-it-fear-or-awe/

      It sounds like you are experiencing the latter. Feeling it means you’re onto something, you’re headed in the right direction. You can still change your mind down the line and return back to the US (or wherever), but don’t make that decision out of fear of being a new, powerful place.

      • Emily

        I love Tara Mohr and Playing Big!

  • Eenie

    I would love content about how to navigate the “good old boys” club that still exists at smaller companies. The job I just started (today) is going through transition to a more modern thinking in terms of business (less racism and sexism and more focus on bottom line and making profits and expanding the company). But the good old boys club still exists, especially at the more corporate level. In the day to day, my manager addressed this and I’m mostly shielded from dealing with it. But I don’t know how to play the politics here, besides just avoiding the people who I’ve been warned about. This also comes into being seen as an outsider in a rural southern state when dealing with local county ordinances and government bodies.

    • TeaforTwo

      Would loooooove to talk about calling about racism and sexism in the workplace.

  • Another Meg

    I’m currently in a “quit vs. fix my job” scenario, and up until today it was looking like quit would win. But I’ve been making incremental changes to hate my life less, and they’re starting to pay off, so maybe I can keep my job. Which is amazing, because I’m in a job that will set me up so well for other things but seems like the worst right now.

    Anyone else been in this situation and maybe have some advice on fixing your current job?

    • I don’t have any advice but I’m in a similar “quit vs fix” situation. I’ve been trying to fix so I’ve been having a lot of meetings about how to move forward, proposing ideas about things I think could improve the way things are done. I don’t want to leave because I recently got promoted with a big pay bump BUT the day to day is pretty terrible right now.

      I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on hobbies that I’d like to turn into paid work at some point, which at least makes me feel like I’m using the day job to work toward something.

      I don’t know how useful that is… yay commiseration?

  • Kristina

    I would love to hear from people who have balanced having a day job while they tried to pursue their passion. I’m an artist and I work at a nonprofit and I go to graduate school part time for the nonprofit path. My partner and I are discussing kids and everyone keeps telling me I won’t have time to paint anymore once we do so.

    I’ve read lots of posts and articles from amazing women who are able to do it all or have help or think they do it all but badly or admittedly don’t do it all or have a messy house and eat Trader Joe’s frozen section to do it all. I find those articles helpful too, but what I’m really looking for is how women entrepreneurs or artists or creatives find time for those really important but not urgent parts of our lives. How do you make sure you take care of yourself/pursue the big things when there are so many urgent job and house and errand (and maybe kid) things demanding our attention?

    • eating words

      A former colleague of mine was doing something like this. To find time to work on her art and poetry, she woke up around 4am a few days a week to get in a couple of hours of studio time while her young child and partner were asleep. It sounded like a crazy schedule to me (a total night owl), but she published a book and had a really fascinating art exhibit. So, one solution: carve out sacred time, perhaps at crazy hours, in which no one else will demand your attention.

  • K

    Leaning in after leaning out
    Balancing ambitions of both spouses

  • Violet

    Imposter Syndrome, please!

  • Laura

    I’m really interested to read the responses and follow the conversation – i’m a woman who will (if all goes to plan) open her own law practice as a sole practitioner in june of this year. i am so torn – i am extremely excited to get going, and be my own boss (my husband and i just planned a vacation and i realised ‘oh – i don’t have to ask anyone for the time off!’) while still being very nervous about entrepreneurship and running the daily business. to add to the pressure, i’ll be doing criminal law – a stressful and high stakes practice, but one that i love. i am very proactive about asking those around me for help/tips, but would love to hear from anyone who recently (or not so recently!) took the leap!

  • This post is so timely. I find myself inadvertently about to start my own business, because I’ve gotten a lot of freelance work lately, even though I have no desire to be my own boss. I’m scared. How much do I have to put into this business thing, considering I never pictured myself starting one? Can I just coast on the business I have now, or do I have to take care of it like a pet for the next ten years? This wasn’t actually what I pictured for my career and I have no idea how long I want to do this for, but unlike being an employee, you can’t just quit (or can you?)

  • jordoncloud

    This is a tiny, tiny thing…but when it comes to working and getting married, how do you decide which people at work you will invite to the wedding? I talk to my co-workers about the planning process, but how do I know who to invite?

    • Eenie

      Personally, we invited anyone who we’ve actually hung out with after work. So dinner, drinks, pet sitting, helped move, etc. That ended up being four ish people plus spouses. It’s definitely awkward to invite anyone if you have any type of supervision over them.

    • Anon

      That is a great topic for a post or Happy Hour!

      When I got married, I was on a team of four, and decided it was better to invite none of them than just the one I was closest with. That worked for me at the time. In my current role, I would have a much harder time drawing the line between friends and co-workers and not inviting all 15 people on my team. Your individual team dynamics and wedding guest list/budget will make a difference.

    • Maggie Dragon

      Seconded! Especially since it seems to vary widely by industry– I’m a graduate student and the idea of inviting my dissertation advisor (the closest thing I have to a boss) was seen as extremely strange by my peers.

    • Anna Wagner

      I had been at my current job for a year when I got married, but started it just after I got engaged. I didn’t invite anyone from work because I just wasn’t sure how to navigate it and felt it was better to invite none than just one or maybe two. It’s a much bigger workplace than I was used to and I didn’t really work in any specific smaller team. Looking back, there is one person I wish I had invited from work and she ended up getting me a cute wedding card.

      I did invite one coworker from my previous job, where I was for 2 years, though she couldn’t make it. We were close and frequently hung out besides work, and we’re actually going to her wedding this year now.

  • CommaChick

    I’d like to read about how to be “present” and experience important social situations, such as networking, when working remotely.

  • Penny7b

    I’d love to see some content on what navigating the corporate world is like for women, especially if you are ambitious. How do you climb that corporate ladder, transitioning from technical specialist to manager, while dealing with accusations of being “too ambitious” or scary to older male bosses.There’s definitely a phenomenon of talented bright young women getting promoted quickly in work hard “troubleshooter” type roles, but that not translating into actual entry into senior management roles. It seems to cap out.

  • Abroad

    International perspectives please! The perspective on women and work is really different in Europe in both good ways and bad, and the whole idea of what makes a good job or a good career is also really different over here–would be great to hear how people have navigated being female while working outside the US, either as expats or as natives.

    • J

      As an American, I’d also be interested in this, as I imagine there are things we could learn from your perspective (and vice versa).

  • Lauren

    How about a discussion on new, radical ways to build a company that actually matters* to employees (*not only about revenue, more about passion, relationships and other things people truly cherish in their lives)?

    I’m thinking Ricardo Semler-style company structures…do we need rules? Do we need hierarchy? I’d love to hear about how women particularly can foster these ideas in their own workplaces and how we can begin to build our own companies using out-of-the-box thinking.

  • Anonymous

    What about becoming a female boss, like THE boss? I’m a licensed nursing home administrator trying to break my way into an administrator position in a Catholic nursing home (read: traditional gender values.) Right now, we have 3 administrators over the various service levels, and will be adding a fourth in the next year. All of the current administrators are male, even though in our field, the majority of employees are female. What’s your advice for being that strong, female boss, even if there are none at the moment? What do you do as the female boss when you have departments reporting to you that are gender-normed as a “male” department, like maintenance? How do you work in a very traditional organization while still breaking the glass ceiling and doing what you truly want to do, because screw what the church says about your anatomy? I’m also young, what about being a young boss? If this position works out in the next year, 95% of my direct reports will be older than me, many old enough to be my parents. Any advice on how to handle that?

  • katie

    So, to Maddies point — it still largely feels like there are only a few career choices. You can work at a good paying job in Corporate America (where you may or may not be fulfilled), you can start your own business (which you may or may not have the skill set to be successful), or you can work at an underpaying but possibly fulfilling job (like teaching, barista-ing, construction, etc). And if you happen to be one of the unlucky people that aren’t sure what they are “passionate” about (why is that a job requirement anyway), it can be really tough to figure out. For myself personally, I always wonder how you would / if you should jump from a stable, high paying job that makes you miserable into something that pays half as much but might be a better fit in terms of fulfillment? Or do you try to find the good in your well paying job and live for the weekend? I guess what I’m trying to say is there seem to be a lot of resources for career people and entrepreneurs, but not a lot for those of us stuck in the middle.

    • Bethany

      I wish I could Exactly this many many times. I could go on a rant about how so many nonprofits pay their people shit wages because we have this societal expectation that “fulfilling” somehow is supposed to mean more than “paying the bills” so instead of rewarding nonprofits that pay their people enough to avoid employee churn, memes deriding the decent pay are shared and good people who want to make a difference end up leaving nonprofits to work in the corporate world so that they can afford an occasional night out and a decent apartment unless they grew up with a trust fund into which they can dip.

    • april

      Just a plug here for government service – it can be a really nice middle ground between ‘corporate america’ and ‘non-profit america.’ I work for my state’s legislature, and I find it incredibly challenging and fulfilling. The pay isn’t great (I make a lot less than I would at a similar job in the private sector), but the benefits are pretty good. In my experience, government jobs are also pretty good about family and medical leave, promoting diversity and gender equity in the workplace, etc.

  • Sara P

    Can we talk about trying to stay in the working-for-other-people track and still take a slightly longer mat leave? I work for a university and would like to start a family in the next few years, but 12 weeks (US) feels really short, and I feel like I’ll finally really be getting somewhere with my job. All of my bosses are men, too, and almost none of them have kids – I have no idea how I’ll manage those conversations (my supervisor is great, I’m just not sure he’ll get it, and he’s not going to be around forever, either).

  • sara

    I’d love to talk about asking a spouse (or partner in general) to move for your career. My husband and I have been clear throughout our relationship that my career (as an academic) was going to require more flexibility in terms of location from him (he has a less location-specific career). But I have been surprised at how much gender-related baggage comes along with this, both for myself feeling guilty about making this ask of him, and from family members (and even one of my professors!) who have made comments about a man “giving up” his career to move for a woman (this is not at all true – he is remaining in his same profession, just in a different city!).

  • Amanda

    I have an opportunity to transfer departments in my company that involves a move from DC to London. My husband is supportive even though it means he’d have to find something else. I’m on the fence about it, leaning towards going for it. I’d like to talk about decision making on taking a new job.

    • Bethany

      Can I just say that I’m jealous? My husband and I have talked about living in England but stupidly have no idea how that would go from a pipe dream to something real without destroying our somewhat location-specific careers.

  • fridayfan

    id love to hear more about dealing with gendered social expectations at work, in terms of collaborating, helping others/peers and getting things done. I am pro-kindness but have seen being gracious put be me behind, even if its fairly inconsequential. Also, curious what people’s thoughts on this article (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/girlfriend-mother-professor/?_r=0) are. Especially this line “Another explanation comes from contemporary feminist philosophers like Sandra Bartky, who describes the phenomenon of internalized oppression. Bartky argues that self-loathing is an inevitable result of living in a culture saturated with messages about the inferior status and value of people like you. Given this, it’s no surprise that many of my female students find it no easier than their male counterparts to look up to someone who’s not a man. Mermaids would rather cut out their tongues than spend a life stuck with other mermaids.”

  • I just love you guys, always so timely! After a few years of, what to call them? Distractions? Major life events? This year I feel like I’m ready to lean back in at work. I love my job but for a while I’ve kind of been on autopilot. It was so great that that was possible during a few tumultuous years! Now I feel like, I’m married, things are chugging along at home and everywhere else, so I really want to start killing it at work again. I’m applying to grad school, and I just took on a big project. I’m not sure I really have any suggestions for you guys, I just wanted to let you know I like where you’re going with this!

  • HannahESmith

    It might just be where I’m right now, but I would love a discussion about coming back from a career break.

  • Bethany

    Similar to your journey — how to figure out alternatives to the grind when you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t be running an entire business yourself. I want to work in a small socially conscious business but how the heck do you find one that’s not already fully staffed?

    Also — more exploration of how the general gig economy is a societal scam the way it’s portrayed as “hustling” and how the word that once meant following a dream has been co-opted. (http://www.npr.org/2016/01/11/460698077/goodbye-jobs-hello-gigs-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-sums-up-a-new-economic-reality is a great start on it)

  • april

    I’m a little late to this party – and I apologize if someone has already made this suggestion (I read many, but not all, of the earlier comments) – but I would love to see something on creating and building relationships with professional mentors.

  • Magi

    As many others have said on many other posts, THIS is why I keep coming to APW every week despite the fact that my wedding was two years ago. Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I have no new suggestions apart from all the wonderful ones already put forth, but I will second a desire to see some content on “sticking with your job that’s just a job” and leaning in vs. leaning out seasons of life. I also will voraciously read anything about fighting the patriarchy while still making choices that make sense for your own life (particularly about choosing when to focus on one partner’s career over the other). Thank you APW!!

  • Granola

    I want to talk/hear about disillusionment with “the system”. I was mostly OK with the capitalist expectation that I have nothing else important in my life, before I had a kid. And I know it’s a cliche that now that I have one I’m not, but it really exposed what seems like kind of a racket. All the careerist advice and exhortations seem designed to convince me to put the interested of my company above all — the company that conveniently has me on salary and thus I miss out on the direct benefit of my extra income-generating labor. There are days that I swear it’s all a grand conspiracy to get me to believe that I like this system in which I grind myself down and do not benefit from.

    Or maybe I’m just a bit ragey right now and this is just my personal struggle.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m late to this, but I’d love a discussion about caring about your work because right now I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to not care/become jaded because it’s just a job and it pays the same whether you care or not…

    • eating words

      This. I am struggling with how much to care and whether I should try to care more, so I don’t feel so disconnected, or to care less, so I don’t burn myself out. How do you find the balance of caring the right amount, whatever that is for you?

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  • Nicole

    I sympathize with the musicians below–I’ve been working in the non-profit world for nine years. While I love the cause, the culture is certainly to make it BE your life. This is particularly true for the small organizations I’ve worked with. It has been particularly unnerving for me to be contacted on my weekends about non-urgent issues. I would love to work in an environment where community is still very appreciated, but work/life boundaries are more well-defined. I’ve tried being a private consultant–it can be fun and empowering, but it lacks stability (and makes it really hard to get a mortgage).