Should I ramp up my career or leave well enough alone?

I am a 31 year old female (ENFJ) and I currently work in an internal role at a major professional services firm. I am not on a partner track, but there are some good career options down the line.  There are a lot of things I like about my job:

- lots of hours and telecommuting flexibility (I work 40+, but can work from home most of the time and skipping out for appointments and such is never a problem)

- excellent benefits

- interesting projects

However, my job isn’t that hard and I feel that I excel over most of my peers.  I feel that I am not reaching for my full potential and that if I don’t challenge myself in the marketplace, I will never know my full potential. I also feel that if I change jobs, I will make more money. My husband makes good money, but has terrible medical benefits- we use mine. I went to a good school and worked hard most of my life- am I wasting that by not reaching for the stars?

I think having kids is something I will try to do in the next few years. My company has good maternity leave and I would have multiple part-time options to choose from if I wanted. They even pay for fertility treatments if I need them.

Do I have a good thing going on and I just can’t see it? Or am I being dragged down by fear of the unknown? I know juggling kids and a serious career is hard and I am afraid I will regret giving up my sweet deal if I choose a new career and kids. Staying feels like the antithesis of “leaning in”, but I need to be smart about this.

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What are tips for doing a group interview?

Do you have any advice on how to ace a group interview? What is the employer looking for when deciding to interview candidates this way?

I can do well enough in the phone interview to get to the group interview but the group format makes me nervous. I can’t come up with any compelling and unique answers to the questions being asked. Is it best to be the most vocal, outgoing candidate? How can I be more memorable to the interviewers?

Claudia

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How can I tell my son he has Aspergers?

I’ve recently been reading your posts on Aspergers to help understand how to support my oldest son, and frankly to better understand my own personality as well. I suspect that I have Aspergers as well, and feel that this understanding could have saved me years of confusion, struggle, depression, guilt about my isolation/avoidance tendencies and life choices. 

Re: your recent education post about the dinosaur dig conversation when noticing another kid(s) on the dig had Aspergers, but the parent probably didn’t know. That gave me a zing — I connected with that — that you had this casual, shared observation with your son about Aspergers. (No big deal — it’s just what it is. Oh look, there it is.)

My questions: at what age did your son learn of his Aspergers? How did you tell him? What made you choose that timing/age to talk to him about it? Do you have any guidance to share on this?

The advice our pediatrician gave us, years ago (diagnosed PDD-NOS, sensory integration, mild/high functioning) was that he needs to stay immersed amongst “typicals” and to keep him engaged, to support him with his sensory integration with OT, but not to worry about the label. Not to identify with it. That labeling could cause more issues to the developing self esteem. But we were also told that as he got closer to middle school, he would probably exhibit more as Aspergers, and to re-evaluate then if it starts impacting his school life.

Well, sure enough… He is now eleven, becoming more self aware, and (outside of our home) his social skills are often awkward and off the mark. But as homeschoolers, and as a quiet home-body rural family, his Aspie stuff isn’t impacting us, nor his educational path. His siblings/family and dog are his close companions, but he only skims the surface with his homeschooling peers… No close pals. (he says he really wants a close friend, but he still really only ‘parallels’ with others outside of family.)

It should be noted that it was public school that was impacting his self esteem. It was disrupting our entire family life. As soon as we pulled out, after struggling for months about IEP issues, then we finally pulled out after a significant bullying episode (violence against our son), our lives as homeschoolers quickly became peaceful and interesting. We pulled out during his 1st grade year. We never looked back.

He doesn’t remember all the IEP/intervention/classroom assistant/social support stuff, plus the two years of private therapy. Quite frankly, I wish I didn’t remember half of it, it was overwhelming. I feel like a lot of it wasn’t even needed — like we were sucked into some huge early-intervention/diagnosis/insurance loop/IEP/public school funding machine. But we just never really talked about it.

Other than “everyone is different and unique and sometimes we need some extra support sometimes.” So, no. I’m not at all psyched about possibly re-evaluating or identifying him as autistic when his only real reference so far is a severely, low functioning autistic teen who is our neighbor, and who holds a soft spot in our hearts — but that is currently what “autistic” looks like to my son’s eyes.

The kids take other homeschool classes too (tennis, martial arts and violin), so they are out and about a few times each week. But I’m a major introvert, and I could stay at home for weeks and weeks and be happy as a clam. I have my kids, my husband, one good friend, my books — that’s all I need. But I know that my kids need more. Yet, I don’t value all the attempts at park days and co-ops, because they burn me out after just a few weeks — and I don’t see the benefit of putting up with all the crap involved for the little bit of social reward/balance that is gained.

Ultimately, I feel like our comfy cozy nesting days are coming to a close. My oldest is now a tween. He is realizing that he feels like a fish out of water more often than not. How do I start the conversation, referencing the more accurate Aspergers label, which isn’t even recognized anymore?

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I have a great job. How can I keep it with a new baby?

I am a 31-year-old female. I am married and I have a two-year-old. I think I am probably an INFP, but never shelled out for the proper test. My marriage is very strong and satisfying.

I have a job I love. I volunteered for 5 years and have worked there for 5 more. I am a youth worker for an innovative organization whose principles allow me to do very, very good youth work (which is rare – youth work, like education, is mostly terrible).  My mentor/supervisor is a genius and I am incredibly lucky to work with and learn from him every day. Before I had my child I believed I would work at this place for the rest of my life. My work is fantastic, ie I love to do my job. I am also very good at it. I think this is the most important thing to say: my job has become part of my identity. I am a wife, a mother, and a youth worker. Everything else is secondary

My job is not perfect: before maternity leave I made just under 30K a year (working about 50 hours a week plus being on call 24/7/365), usually office relations are good, but every few months something flares up and I spend hours listening to people complain and being recruited to take sides, and my boss has an inconsistent management style that is often frustrating to watch and is occasionally hurtful to me.

As you have probably already predicted, I had a kid and everything changed. I do not want to ever go back to work full-time. I want to have at least one more kid. I would like to homeschool my children. I want to move an hour outside of the city I live in to raise my kids in the country (my husband has already found his dream job there and splits his time between the city and the country). I love being home with my kid. For real.

When my child was 3 months old I went back to work part-time (6 hours a week) and I am now up to about 15 hours a week. As part of my job, I am on call 24/7 to every youth I work with (about 60 kids) so the number of hours I work is a little hard to judge because in one sense I am always working.

I like the current arrangement, but I could stand to work even fewer hours. I only really care about the part of my job that involves the kids, running my twice-a-week three-hour program and being on call. That would take about 8-10 hours a week. Currently, I also run two school-based lunch-time programs a week and I mentor/manage four junior youth workers, plus I have to write reports and go to staff meetings and take calls from disgruntled staff.

Here’s the problem: the things that used to be just shitty parts of the job (low pay, inconsistent and erratic management, often discordant/antagonistic office relations) are now major problems. I resent all the of things I used to cheerfully tolerate (because they are just time/energy away from my family). On top of that, my status has changed: I have gone from being a valued member of a small team to a side note (due to my part-time status). My bonus is smaller, I don’t have a say over things that I used to have a say in, and my boss has allowed a new and junior youth worker to be chronically rude to and disrespectful of me (“he’s rude to everyone if that makes you feel better”). My job satisfaction has swiftly declined. However, my job is such a massive part of who I am. My mentor and the youth I serve mean so much to me. I cannot imagine not doing this job. I can also not justify it – it would feel like a betrayal to people I love.

I COULD imagine leaving to do one of two things: start an alternative school or start a program for young mothers. Two problems there: I lack confidence in my ability to achieve these things (not in my ability to run a excellent school or program, but the actual starting of them) and both of those things would take up more time than 15 hours a week and I DO NOT want to work full-time.

My job allows me to do work I love, it is my community. I can work and be home with my kid most days (ie live the dream). It is even feasible for me to move to the country and do the hour-long commute two or three days a week. I contribute financially to my family, however modestly. The price I pay is frustration at the crap parts of my job and the indignity of a low status despite my high competence and result (I am really good at my job!!).

WWPTD?

(What Would Penelope Trunk Do?)

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I can’t stay with a job or a boyfriend for a long time

I left my job to work on my own business full time. The business teaches kids how to program (and not just to program but produce their own apps, emphasize on problem solving techniques). I’m very excited because I love kids and this is something I can potentially sustain myself as a lifestyle business.

However, what makes me a bit down is that after my coaching session with you, we agreed that the best thing for me is to focus on staying in one job and finding a lifelong partner.

I went on a few dates, dated a guy (broke up within a month) and then now in a pseudo relationship with another guy who is non committal. For this guy, I’ve been seeing him for 3 months regularly (~2 times a week). We like each other but he has just got out of a relationship (in Nov) (or for whatever reasons), not ready to commit.

 

And, another problem is that I also have an idea for a new business I’m thinking of, just one week after I quit my job to do this business.

I’m not getting younger, but at the same time just don’t feel I don’t have the capacity to both run a business and cultivate a new relationship.

Would you have any advice for situations like this?

 

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What should I do when everyone else is drunk?

I am in a treatment program called Harm Reduction, for people who need to get their drinking under control. It’s been wonderful for me, my health is better, my blood pressure, weight, skin, mood, marriage, everything. I drink two drinks maximum, ever. I want this to be my lifestyle – it’s very important to me.

So: what do I do about heavy-drinking business occasions, where it would be good for my career to get sloshed with the others, and where it will make them feel like I think I am better than them if I stay mostly sober?

I really don’t think I am better. I have no judgment for anyone else, and I think for a lot of people partying hard works fine and can be  awesome. But I have been at a professional seminar where I ended up being bullied by my group, who were all super hard partiers and saw me as a threat because I was sober.

Do I secretly go smoke some pot once everyone is drunk, so I am also intoxicated? Do I pretend to drink more than I am? Do I say I have a stomach virus? Do I say honestly that my drinking was getting out of control, so now I am on a program to help me manage it?

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Everywhere I work is awful

I have two major passions in life: Animals and Reading/Writing.  I worked with animals for about 10 years, doing kennel work, dog bathing, and eventually, dog grooming.  I love working with dogs, the only problem is that the way owners of grooming salons focused on money more than the love of the dogs ate away at me, so I made a career change. I went from being dog groomer to being a Media Coordinator for an Ad agency, a small 11 person company with only two people in the Traffic department: myself and my manager, who would be training me.

I thought it would be a great fit because I love editing and I’m a very organized person, looking for a new challenge.  The biggest problem arose when my manager,  who was training me (or supposed to be…I mostly just watched what he did, which is a terrible way for me to learn, personally) QUIT out of the blue after 2 weeks of “training,” leaving me to run the department myself, still not sure what I was doing (although I asked a million questions) and trying to deal with the pressure of people saying “you should know this” when I was never given a chance to “know” anything.

This lead to me quitting after two months without another job lined up because the pressure was breaking me and making me miserable. Now that I’m out of there and living on my nice nest egg I made while grooming, I’m struggling to figure out how I can put my love for reading, and writing int o a full time job where I can be happy and be respected.  I have a book review blog and do some editing for a publishing company, but I’m struggling to find a way to make a living reading/writing and getting over the fear that another job will sandbag me like my other one did, which lead towards history repeating itself.

Is there any way you can throw a line or two of advice my way?  I would GREATLY appreciate it.

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I hate my job and my marriage how can I fix it?

I am 27 female INTJ (English and Creative Writing graduate) working in a lowly job in an English public sector. Words cannot describe how I hate my job and how little opportunity for development it provides.

I am married, only due to the fact that I could not possibly support myself on my shitty wages. I hate even the thought of having children and frankly, staying at home and taking care of anyone makes me feel sick. My marriage makes me feel sick and I would love to leave but…

I have childhood issues (my parents never loved me and do not love me now either) which render me almost impossible to live or function on my own – I always need a safety net, otherwise I feel like I am drowning. I have been in therapy in and out (currently in) for the last 14 years and the more I explore the more I find out that my biggest issue is that I cannot simply be myself. That I feel insecure to do so. It does not help that I cannot seem to find a job that would give me that security. Obviously, my role in life is not to be a home-maker. I need a career. But I generally hate whatever happens to me and whatever I do. So I keep thinking more and more I should just settle for something for INTJs that is well-paid because if I am not going to enjoy it, I might as well earn good money for doing it. Because I generally do not mind what I do as long as I can do it independently and that I deem it worthwhile.

I do admire the advice you are giving on career, however, it is hard to understand why you decided to have children. But hey, I might turn 35 and maternal instincts might kick in – biology is a mystery and is not to be treated lightly.

I was always drawn toward older men and it was a mistake to marry someone my age and maybe if I met someone my age I would look at the prospect of having kids more favourably but maybe it is just my insecurity talking. Either way, I would love some advice on how to get a career/forget about a relationship for now. It is sad to think that despite having 3 long-term relationship I have never had sex with anyone I love but it is even sadder that I have never enjoyed anything that I have done at work.

Just to be clear, I am not disrespecting anyone (regardless the gender) who chose family over career/the other way round. I think it is amazing that some people posses the self-knowledge that helps them making decisions they are happy with, whatever they are.

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Can I quit with no notice?

I have been employed more or less happily as an executive assistant at this company for a year. Today I had a final round interview for a great job (project director at an incubator for start-ups, with higher pay and flex time to work from home!) and I believe I have a solid chance to get hired.

The catch is, they want the candidate to start on Monday, as the person vacating the position is moving to England on January 20 (!) so there’s not much time for training.

If I get this job, how do I gracefully extricate myself from my current position without making them hate me forever and ever? The girl who does backup for my position will be leaving on an overseas trip this week and I will be leaving them in quite a bind with no administrative support. I wish I could have given 2 weeks notice but there’s no time. I would really prefer not to burn my bridges and kill my potential references from this job, which is only my second “real job” ever.

What Would Penelope Do???

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Full-time INFP Working Mom Loses Mind

That subject lin will be a headline for an article starring me if I don’t make some changes.

I work in HR (accidentally landed and am now stuck in this field). I hate every second of it. I am essentially a babysitter for adults who lack common sense and the ability to use good judgement. I started as the Communications person for HR (translating mumbo jumbo into English so employees could see the real value of working for us). Now it’s turned into a chief of staff role for the VP of HR. We’re restructuring, launching an ERP, etc. I bloody hate it.

I have two beautiful children, ages 3 and 1 who are in daycare from 8 to 5, and I can’t afford to quit my job because the city we live in is overpriced.

I live in a city that I hate on most days. We have no family here, which I thought I would be OK with before I had children, but now I wish we had at least a couple of the non-crazies near us.

My husband loves the city and the industry he’s in and up until very recently was not open to change. (Now he is ready to make some life moves). I explained to him that we have 5 things in life that we need-I know we won’t always get all 5, but we need at least 3, and we currently have .5.

1. Friends & Family (network close to you that you can rely on)
2. Community Connection (the culture of your community aligns with your values)
3. Cost of Living is Logical
4. Career Opportunity
5. Education (good schools are within reach)

Question:

Where does one start when everything needs to change?

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