How can I get my first office job?

I’m a 20-something woman in NYC looking to change/start a career.  My work history is retail and cooking in restaurants. I’m an ENFP. I’m interested in an office job so that I have more opportunities for success.  So far, I’m interested in office manager job descriptions (which is the closest thing to entry level I’ve seen).  Is there something more entry level than that that I can try applying for?  Do you have advice for how to get an entry level job in an office? I feel even though I don’t have experience in an office, my cooking and retail skills do translate.  And since I’m a 90s kid, I’m perfectly tech literate.  How can I best convey that on my resume/cover letter and in an interview?

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Can I get promoted when I’m pregnant?

Penelope – I am 5 months pregnant with twins and have been showing for awhile now.  I’ve been asked several times by coworkers and have lied, but I’m going to have to stop lying sooner than later because it is so obvious at this point.

My question for you is how I should tell the President of the Company who I report to directly.  While he talks about diversity in the workplace as a positive thing, he has proven to always be more comfortable with promoting people who look the part (meaning older men who have put their time in) and has made comments about other women and how they care more about their kids sports tournaments than they do their job (which may or may not be true, but has definitely given him a bias).

Currently, there is only one female SVP and no female EVPs at the company.  The President has always been very fair to me and I have moved up the ranks in a very short period of time.  I am currently a VP and I have had conversations with him this year regarding a promotion to an SVP this fall which at my company would be significant since there are only 5 SVPs total and 2 EVPs.

I want to ensure I stay on this SVP track and would like to address that during this meeting but am not sure what message that gives.  Does bringing the promotion up show my insecurity and lack of faith in the system?  Should I just continue to act the part and assume the promotion will come as promised?  Part of me feels like that is naïve but then I think what would a man do and I doubt he would ever question the promotion was in jeopardy.

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How to transition from school to work with Aspergers

I recently came across your article Your Boss Might Have Aspergers and after reading the whole thing I have to say I’ve never seen a more accurate account of living with the disorder.

I just graduated from Stetson University with a degree in communication and media studies and a minor in marketing.  I started studying communications as a way to bridge that gaps in my learning due to Aspergers. I found that studying people academically allowed me to build more “scripts” as you call them.

That being said I’m still struggling with where my position will be in the workforce. Do you have some advice for a recent graduate? I believe it would really help me more from someone who is achieved as much as you in the field that I believe I want to join, which is the start up culture. I believe that I share a similar thought process to you, when you wrote “I don’t see the box,” I literally pointed at my screen and said “exactly!”

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Should I stay or start a new career?

This is going to be a tough one for you. And I keep asking myself WWPD? (What Would Penelope Do?)

I am going to be 50 years old in July. I am currently working as a Behavior Specialist for developmentally disabled adults.  I got this job after almost completing my master’s degree in behavioral health (didn’t finish cause I got divorced and had to pick up another job and raise three kids on my own – husband was financially ruined). 

Anyway, I am good at what I do but I don’t want to do it anymore. I loved it for quite awhile but I am burnt. And the industry is changing and heading in a direction I don’t have the energy to be a part of.  Truth be told, it wasn’t my true calling and I knew it.  I was meant to be (get ready) a comedic actress.

Wherever I am, wherever I’ve worked, people gravitate towards me because I am entertaining.  I am truly funny but not in an annoying way.  I wrote some material and did one stand up gig.  I had one “fan” in the audience yet got lots of laughs and applause.  I stopped there.  Why?  I have no fucking idea.  It was the best 5 minutes I can remember.

I write, occasionally, but have been quite lazy about it. Make excuses constantly.

On a great note, I got remarried and I could potentially quit my job – NOT WORK AT ALL – but I’m scared.  Scared to be too dependent (again) and scared I won’t find another job if I want to.  I also still have those 3 kids I am responsible for!   And I am scared I won’t buckle down and write/perform like I always promised myself I would if I had the luxury and time to do so.

Anyway I went to Quistic and took the personality test.  I am a ESFJ, if that helps.  It really did give a good description of me.

Thanks for listening,

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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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