Coffee Break – Pop Color Snake Print Belt

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  1. I’d like to apologize: I posted this in another column but it was taken over by stories of early and late risers. I’m really freaking out and looking for any input.

    I worked several summers ago for a small-medium firm (40-50 lawyers) (my 1L year). We loved it, hit it off, they invited me back for 2L year. For reasons not related to them (my mother was really ill and had to go to the hospital ~3x/week and I had to be physically close to her that summer, and we discussed and they seems really awesome and supportive of it) I couldn’t work there my 2L summer. In 3L year, I contacted them about coming back but with my interest in clerkships, and they seemed really enthusiastic about me clerking for a year or two first, then an open door to return (and yes, this was post economic collapse). I let them know I had received a clerkship – again, really enthusiastic.

    Fast forward – I’m in the second year of my 2-year clerkship. I called the hiring partner about 6 weeks ago, left a message. Didn’t hear anything back. I called again about 2 weeks ago and left a more detailed message on my desire to return. Still, I haven’t heard anything back. Always in the past they’ve gotten back to me within a day or two, at the most. And – the hiring partner’s voicemail has been updated (I’ve actually called 6 times but only left two messages) with the current day each time I call.

    What’s going on? What did I do wrong? Has anyone ever had anything like this happen to them before? Do I send an email? Do I call someone else? I really, really didn’t see this coming – we’ve always spoken on very open terms and nothing like this has happened before.

    The other thing is – whether they hire me or not, how do I resolve this professionally? I am definitely going to be working in the same very small city as this firm, so it is inevitable that even if I don’t work there, I will see attorneys I worked with regularly.

    • I would try emailing the hiring partner with an updated resume etc. I’m sure it has nothing to do with you; either the hiring partner is super busy and when he comes into 10 voicemails he forgot to act on the one you left him even though he would really like to hire you. He also may be trying to talk to other partners about the possibility of hiring you soon.

      I wouldn’t worry about the small town running into the firm. It’s a small world and it would be bound to happen, and you haven’t done anything unprofessional.

      I would definitely start applying to other jobs STAT. If you get an offer from someone else and call them and say look I have an offer that I need to respond to, I would like t0 know if you were still interesting in hiring me, that would get their attention.

      • Agree 100% with Kelly’s advice.

        Also, not to sound at all snarky, but I do want to point out to you that while you are understandably freaked out, and probably didn’t do anything wrong vis a vis your summer position, you do open this question by saying, “I posted this in another column but it was taken over by stories of early and late risers,” when in reality that other column was meant to be devoted to the early/late riser stories. Obviously, off topics like yours are fine and welcome, but be careful that you don’t come off as approaching life as someone who is so me-focused that she views the main topic of conversation as taking over what she wants to talk about. Again, no snark intended, truly, but as someone older who’s been at the work life awhile, I thought it was worth pointing out. Something along the lines of, “I already posted in another thread, but would love more input” would have accomplished your task better, I think. Just a thought to keep in mind when e-mailing the hiring partner.

        • Agree with this 100% and was about to write a snarky comment about that sentence, but love your more valuable advice making it a learning opportunity

        • Thanks for the constructive comment – I wasn’t trying to be self-centered. It was more of a “I have 45 seconds to write this out before I have to go on to another task” ill-formed sentence.

          Also, thanks to everyone for their commentary. My concern isn’t necessarily not being hired by them – I would certainly understand if they had moved on at this point – it is more a concern on how a person I’ve been communicating with for several years suddenly doesn’t return my calls, and making sure I haven’t made a professional faux pas.

    • Several possibilities– First, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s been a few years, and their hiring needs may have changed. This stuff happens. Send the hiring partner your resume via e-mail–let him know you’re still very interested in working there. Don’t stalk him, though.

      Second, could be the partner has work / personal stuff going on that’s made it difficult for him to respond to you in a timely manner.

      If you worked with attorneys at the firm regularly, you could contact one or two that you clicked with and ask if they want to get drinks / lunch / dinner / whatevs some time to catch up. I wouldn’t make the hiring issue a focus of the meeting, but if it feels right, you could bring it up just to feel out what the situation is.

      If you don’t get the job, try not to take it personally (easy for me to say, I know). Be friendly to the lawyers you’ve worked with. Even if the firm can’t hire you now, there may be a need in the future.

      Finally, good luck… sounds like a scary place to be.

    • Two other points:

      First, is the hiring partner the best/only person to contact? Is there an HR person to whom you can submit your resume and make clear your past experience with the firm?

      Second, stop calling. At my firm, our phones logged how many calls we missed, whether they resulted in voicemails or hangups. Nothing good will come from you calling more than half a dozen times.

    • I was actually going through the same thing earlier this month– after being laid off and months of fruitless looking, I finally came to the point where I reached out to a previous employer (who loved me and I felt was likely to hire me back)… and it seemed like he was dodging me. I left a voicemail; then a message with his assistant a week later; then I emailed him directly… no response.

      Finally, I reached out to a member of his executive staff… and a week later she set up a meeting time for me. When I went to go see him, the first thing he did was give me a hug and tell me he was glad to see me… and he offered me a position (still not sure about it but that is another post for another thread).

      Moral of the story: YOU’RE OVERTHINKING IT… this guy might have a new assistant, be super busy or have other things going on… there is no point in dreaming up imaginary faux pas or professional blackballing at this point. Just keep at it until you get a live person, you’re not rejected until you get a firm no.

      Also, in my not-so-small city, I have to deal with the jackrabbit who axed me on a regular basis… so I am sure that you will have to do the same. It’s only awkward if you let yourself think it is awkward… I find pretending nothing happened works pretty well.

    • They see you as a high-maintenace employee. No employer wants to hear that you’re intereseted in working at their firm . . . if other things don’t pan out. That may not be what you meant, but that’s the message they got.

      “Several summers ago” is a really long time. They probably found someone in the interim who was eager to work there and whose employment didn’t come with conditions.

      I recommend trying to find another job. If you still want to go back in a few years you could apply as a lateral. By then you should have a good book of business to bring with you, which they’ll be dying to get their hands on. Alternatively, you could nag them about hiring you until they cave. Without knowing you or them I don’t know which of the two approaches would work. Either way, if this firm is your dream job, don’t give up.

  2. momentsofabsurdity :

    Posted this on the other thread but it is stuck in moderation.

    Can any Corporettes make recommendations for websites or articles where I can get the boiled-into-five-seconds download on student loans and graduate school financial aid?

    Background – I was accepted to an MBA program in my senior year of undergrad and deferred for a couple of years. I was in the extremely fortunate position not to have any loans from undergraduate and have never been in any significant debt. I am now a year and a half into my work at a startup and while the experience has been invaluable (I’m doing plenty of things that I am NOT qualified to do less than two years out of undergrad!) the pay has been far from ideal and I have minimal savings to put towards the MBA. I expect it to be financed primarily with loans and institutional grants, and know that what little savings I have will be a drop in the bucket.

    Maybe this is all a little too far in advance to be thinking this, but having never been in debt before, it’s scaring me a little and I want to understand as much about it as I can! So any reading and research suggestions (articles, websites, books, etc) would be highly appreciated.

    • It’s not too far in advance, because if the amount of loans doesn’t make sense for you, it might be wise to think about alternatives to an MBA program. I don’t have any good website recommendations. I think at this stage you just need to know the ballpark of how much you’ll have to borrow, and what the interest rate is, and the fact that it’s non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Bigger questions are (1) what value-add will the MBA program offer (HBS and Stanford GSB degrees lead to very different career opportunities than even the next “tier” such as Tuck, Stern, Haas) and (2) do you want to take a job after the MBA that will pay enough so that you can afford the loan payments.

      (P.S. I hope you spend more than five seconds researching what will be a HUGE investment! You could buy a home in many areas of the country with the opportunity cost + tuition of an MBA.)

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Thanks for this! Without giving tooooooo much away, the school in question is one of the “Big 3” of HSW and the advice I’ve gotten from all sides is that the MBA itself will be an enormous value-add considering my undergrad institution, which was quite respected but not “head turning” by any means. In addition, I have an alum parent and have seen the networking and career advancement potential and am convinced that even in this economy, this particular degree from this particular school will be valuable. If we were talking several tiers down, I would likely wait, save more, and try and do the MBA part time while taking out minimal or no loans. However, this opportunity strikes me as worth it (though I’m definitely open to opinions if people disagree – I haven’t signed in blood in triplicate quite yet!)

        Without having a package from the school, my guess is that with savings and institutional need-based grants (going from averages) my loan amount will be somewhere between 80-100K total.

        I have definitely spent more than five seconds already researching the investment and the application was entered into with a lot of thought – but now that deposits are starting to come due, the thoughts are starting to turn to the more practical “Okay, how exactly is this going to happen?” realm. I hope I didn’t imply I’d spend five seconds researching – it was just a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that the sites I am finding and reading are so complex and difficult to navigate. I’d like to find a place to begin, where I can start to sort through all the information and then determine what requires further inquiry.

    • Also in Academia :

      Talk to the financial aid office at your school-to-be! Some graduate departments will even have a person of their very own who can talk you through this, but even if you just set up an appointment to talk to the general financial aid office you will come away with good info. Most of us in higher ed administration/student affairs offices have gone to school for at least a couple of years post-bac to do what we do, so we like it when students and potential students actually take the time to reach out :) And a local source is best for this kind of info, I believe.

  3. Not to sound… mean… but… you worked for them one summer after your 1L year. It’s also possible that they have just moved on. I really wouldn’t worry about the issue of running into them in the local community. I would, however, consider the fact that perhaps they have simply just found someone else in the 3+ years (2 law school + 2 clerking) that you weren’t there. They can’t “hold a spot” for you forever, and given that it’s a semi-small firm, if they have a need for a person, they need to fill it. I am sure you are a great attorney and are going to be great wherever you end up… but it’s likely that it’s time to move on and find another job.

    If you can’t let this one go, I would make one final pass by sending in my updated resume with a note of “hey I am X” in a polite but reminder-ish way. If that doesn’t trigger anything… it’s definitely time to just let go.

    • I’d have to agree with this.

      If the firm continues to be non-responsive, I think you’re in a “we no longer have the need for someone in your position” situation, and they’re avoiding you rather than just telling you to your face. Given this, I would hold my head high when interacting with people from that firm. Who knows, they may still hire you a few years down the road (though you’d have to question whether you want to work for them given this interaction).

      • I have sort of the opposite dilemma and I’d love input. I summered for a firm after 2L year and got an offer, which I accepted. Then I got a 2 year clerkship, which the firm was supportive of, told me they’d hold my spot. Now in my second year of clerking, I have some offers from other firms that I am more interested in. The new offers are both from large, int’l law firms and would be placements in practice areas that better reflect what I’ve been learning over my clerkship (complex commercial lit in fed courts) whereas the original firm I summered with is big, but regional only and work will be at state level. Will I get a bad reputation in my community if I go to a different firm post-clerkship?

        • 1) Seriously, you have this many offers?

          2) you act like these other offers just feel into your lap. Did you not apply for them? If you were actively applying for other jobs you either didn’t want the first offer, or didn’t think it was a certain thing. If you were actively applying you would have had to have known you would be rescinding on the first offer of the 2L summer firm.

          3) If you take an offer from the large international firm, do you really care about your reputation in your community with a firm that only does work at the state level?

          Take whatever job you think you’d enjoy the most, and I wouldn’t worry about the rep with the local firm. Good lawyers are a dime a dozen these days, they’ll have no problem finding a replacement, just be professional with your correspondence.

          • That seems like an unnecessarily snarky response. People apply for other jobs knowing they would have to turn down a previous accepted offer. It happens. It seems like these other 2 offers (which you have no reason not to believe she has) are along the lines of dream jobs, which she may have applied for thinking that she’d decide if she managed to get an offer. Well now she has offers and is asking about the possible harm to her reputation.

            @Anon- I think it may harm your reputation if they truly held your spot by pushing your start date back. That said, it sounds like taking one of the other jobs could be most beneficial to your career. It will come down to balancing a lot of factors including that benefit weighed against the harm to your rep. Good luck with your decision and congrats on the offers!

          • Sorry if I wasn’t clear. What I meant by “truly held your spot by pushing your start date back” was as opposed to the situation the original poster is in where it was implied that there would be a spot.

        • AnonInfinity :

          I second AnonX3. There might be some hard feelings, but you have to weigh that against practicing with a huge firm in the area you’re most interested in. I’d probably take one of the new jobs.

        • Alanna of Trebond :

          I don’t think it’s a big deal to take another position — a lot of people use the clerkship as an option to leave gracefully from a firm, I would imagine that it’s even easier given that you’ve never worked at the first firm as a full-fledged attorney. I think they would even understand if you told them what you’ve written here.

          • Original Anon here, thank you all for the responses, I really appreciate it. The other offers are not positions I applied for specifically but rather offers that came about over the course of my clerkship through networking with the judge’s contacts. The regional firm where I summered typically hires 10+ new associates per year, so I think they could easily move someone into my spot. Good point about the larger firm/different practice area meaning I won’t likely overlap much with the other attorneys from first firm – I hadn’t thought about that. Thank you all again!

  4. Can anyone recommend a good cobbler in Denver or southern Denver burbs?

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      I love Dardano’s on S. Colorado Blvd. I’ve had shoes re-soled and rubber soles put on new shoes (so nothing extreme), but I love their customer service. Whatever you do, stay away from Rhine’s on 17th and Sherman.

      • Thanks so much! Just looking to get some shoes re-soled, so I’ll try Dardano’s.

    • Second Dardano’s for S. Denver. However, my first recommendation for the Denver area is actually Perry’s in Boulder – they’re really really good (perrysshoe dot com)

  5. Ladies, I need an internet hug. While I was on the treadmill just now, someone stole my gym bag. I just had to file a police report and itemize the contents. I had about $250 worth of workout clothes, toiletries, etc.

    The only good thing is that it didn’t contain my wallet, phone, or keys. I work in the same building so I never bring them. But now I have to buy new stuff.

    • a nonny miss :

      Big hugs to you, Bunkster! That’s awful, especially so close to the holidays!

    • Ugh! Huge internet hugs. That’s so awful! I can’t believe that someone in your building stole your stuff!

      • Diana Barry :

        Terrible! Hugs to you. Here’s hoping that you have the same bag as someone else so they just mistook it!!

    • That sucks, Bunkster, big hug. Look around your gym (inside and outside). Hopefully the theif will realize that there is no cash and just dump it somewhere.

      • another anon :

        This….they were probably looking for cash, and will be sorely disappointed to only find your gym clothes (which hopefully were dirty–i.e., I hope they had to paw through dirty clothes only to discover that there was nothing of real value). I would check the ladies locker room and ask someone to check the mens for you. And I would check the dumpsters outside of your building and nearby if there are any.

    • Hugs to you, Bunkster! Is it bad that my first thought when I read that your gym is in your work building was “Huh. I’ll bet it was her boss”?

    • Gooseberry :

      Bunkster, that STINKS! I agree — check around the gym and right outside, etc. Once someone realized that there was no cash, hopefully they just ditched the bag. HUG to you!

    • Cr*p. Sorry : (

    • That totally sucks! So sorry :(

    • Hugs. It has happened to me and I’m still mad!

    • So sorry to hear this happened to you! Does the gym have any cameras that might have caught who did it?

      As a tip for those who hate having a big lock in their gym bag or purse and tend to just put their purse in an unlocked locker (which apparently happens at my gym a LOT based on my difficulty in finding an actual empty locker despite none of them having locks on them) here’s a tip: luggage locks. They’re really small and lightweight. I keep mine in my purse all the time (I always bring it to the gym). It doesn’t add any weight and I have a simple 3 number combo that is really easy for me to remember because I set it myself.

      • Yes. The gym does have surveillance cameras and the manager said they would check for the period I was there (approx. 2:30 to 3:15). They will also check all the lockers tonight, in the hopes that the thief ditched the bag when they realized it had no value (except to me!). It’s the BSC. They have good customer service.

        I actually had a lock and I’d never forgotten to use it before, but I think I must have because I can’t imagine anyone could break a lock midday. I was preoccupied b/c my boss was being a jerk again.

        I’m upset mostly because the awesome Athleta tops I had aren’t made anymore. I’d do LuluLemon, but those seem to be more for yoga and less for high impact, high “bounce” workouts. The ones I had had special bra cups built in so I actually could buy them in my cup size.

        And for those of you who thought my boss might have stolen my bag (hee!). He doesn’t use the gym. It’s one of the reasons I love the place so much. But because he’s such a sweetheart, he actually laughed (!) when I told him what had happened.

    • That’s awful – I’m so sorry. I hope the holiday sales help you with replacing your stuff.

      • Ugh! What a pain, sorry you have to deal with this! Good luck with replacing your stuff. (As if one needed a further disincentive to visit the gym!) *Hugs*

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      That’s horrible. I hope they get a charlie horse while running away.

    • Equity's Darling :

      That sucks!

      I say you give yourself a little present to make it all better. Don’t think of it as “I have to buy new stuff”. Think of it as “I get to buy new stuff, and stick it to the universe, because I’ll look cute and smell great, and have a lock now”.

      Get a hot new gym outfit (Lululemon is my preferred store), an awesome toiletries kit (I just got myself a sweet travel one from Skoah), and a shiny new lock:)

    • internet hug, chocolates, and c_cktail of choice right your way!

    • Boo. First, internet hugs!

      Second, something I wouldn’t necessarily think of in this situation is that your renters and/or home owners insurance may cover this. In addition, if any of it was recently purchased, your credit card may have theft protection for a certain period of time.

      Plus…yay for lululemon shopping trips. :-)

  6. Now that it’s winter again, I’m starting to get so tired in the late afternoons that I have trouble staying awake, let alone concentrating on anything. I often end up taking a nap because I can’t function. I sit by a sun lamp in the morning for an hour, but it doesn’t prevent the fatigue. Anyone experience some similar, or have any suggestions? It’s getting in the way of working, obviously!

    • You have what ALAN’s mother has– Seasonal Affective’s Disorder.

      I am NOT a doctor, but I think you need to take alot of vitamin D if you can get it from the store, it is SOLD OTC, so you do NOT need a SCRIPT. Sitting by a sunlamp helps but you really should ask your GP about vitamin D.

      Look it up and you will see for yourselves.

      • Anonymous :

        I can’t BELEIVE I am going to agree with Ellen, but Vitamin D supplaments have made ALL the difference for me. And it is great that I do NOT need to see a doctor to get the pills, because my manageing partner HATES when I have to leave to go to a doctor’s appointement.

    • get some exercise in the afternoon, or when you start to get tired. I get a bunch of 15 minute podcasts on my iphone, so i can take a walk just long enough to listen to one story. Also, i just found this video on Gaiam’s website with a short chair-exercise routine by Mari Winsor, the Pilates expert. It’s easy, but it really does wake me up and just generally makes me feel better to get some good stretches. Will post the link in another comment.


        • Holy magical 2 minute exercise, Batman! Thank you for this!

          • aw, you’re welcome! and thanks for the thank you, Circe! you have no idea how much this cheered up an otherwise horrible day. ;o)

          • here’s-to-a-better-rest-of-day-internet-hugs!

      • Equity's Darling :

        If you like short story podcasts, check out the Moth- I love, love their podcast. It’s only once a week, but I always look forward to it.

    • pumpkin seeds are a good snack for seasonal depression.

    • Try one of those circadian rhythm restoring lights. I have a coworker who swears by it.

  7. Threadjack!
    I could use some advice from all you career minded super awesome women (yes I am sucking up … sue me)
    Have any of you ever gone through the Teach for America program or known someone who has? Was it something you/or they would do again?
    I just had an informational interview over the phone with one of their reps which was mostly out of the blue (I had an email about setting it up last week because they identified me as a top student) and I’m still a little curious about other people’s experiences with the program. While the woman I spoke with answered my questions she also has a job which is to get as many applicants as possible so I would love a more rounded viewpoint.

    also- so this isn’t entirely off topic the belt is pretty!

    • Check it out! I went to UVA, was a top student, and went through the TFA interview program. At the last minute, after being selected and assigned to New Orleans, I opted out for reasons totally not related to TFA, but three of my close friends were also selected and went through it. One is now a regional manager for the program in Oklahoma, one did it for two years, left for four years, then got a master’s in teaching and is teaching now, and one did it and then got her MBA and is working in DC. Oh – and a friend from law school did it, now he’s a first year at BigLaw. Everyone I know who did it absolutely loved it – they said there were weeks that were incredibly hard, but that they loved it. I think a lot of the appeal is being able to work with other incredibly bright and talented people on really difficult problems.

      At least go through the interview process. You won’t regret that.

      • Why hello there my fellow Hoo! Sorry, couldn’t stop the creepiness ;)

        I also have had a lot of friends go through TFA, or who are in TFA right now. They’ve had a slightly more mixed bag of experiences than anon’s, but on the whole, they’ve been positive about it. And even the one who had a pretty rough go of it said it was an incredible learning experience. Grad schools of all flavors also dig TFA-ers, and they’re building up a pretty ridiculous alumni network.

        With all that said…I was pretty heavily recruited by TFA (like, they bought me dinner in one of the nicest restaurants in town), and I have to say, if you don’t buy into their message and methodology, you will feel like an alien on a strange planet. And there appear to be, sadly, a lot of top students who go into it as kind of a warm-and-fuzzy help-the-poor-people-of-color-before-moving-on-to-an-MBA-program-and-make-gajillions-of-dollars-ripping-those-same-people-off. Some of the condescension I heard alumni at recruiting events express towards their students, schools, and communities, was utterly revolting, and one of the biggest reasons that I did not apply. I also think it’s a little bit overly idealistic (and there’s that word again: condescending) to think that two years of service, even from fantastically-qualified teachers who would otherwise not get near a classroom on Rosewood Reservation, will do a significant amount towards ameliorating the ills that face the American public educational system. I will now end my novel, but can continue.

        • Oh, by the way, probably no one will read anything I’m writing now but I feel bad–I didn’t mean to slag off on all MBAs. There’s just a very specific type of future-MBA that applies to TFA, at least at UVA, and I do. not. like. them.

        • Little Lurker :

          The condescension combined with the short-term nature of the program drives me nuts. Some days I think TFA is doing more harm than good for the students they supposedly serve.


          • The only long term good I think we can hope for from TFA is that the people who teach there realize that it’s incredibly hard to be a teacher and maybe as a society we should show them some respect and maybe pay them more.

            I hope.

    • Sister went through Teach for America. Extremely competitive, and if you want to be in education, very prestigious – she’s gotten desirable jobs and gotten into a highly ranked education program since her TFA time.

      BUT she had a very, very difficult 2 years (b/c you will be placed in urban schools with kids who have lots of issues). She was miserable for most of the 2 years, and I remember weekends and vacations where she was in tears. In retrospect, she thinks it was a great thing to do (and would do again), because of the character building, resume building, learned a lot etc… But keep in mind that because it is so difficult, TFA does have a high dropout rate, so you definitely want to have the stomach for it.

    • Several of my friends participated in Teach for America (several years ago now). The bad news was that two of them ended up on anti-depressants. They were young women who loved their students so much and became depressed when they realized they couldn’t “fix” everything about their students’ lives. For two other friends, the experience was life changing in a very positive way: one is now an attorney focusing on education law and policy for the WDC public school district, another is a state elected official who campaigned on education reform based on his TFA experience. I think all of them would participate in the program again, despite the difficulties.

      Based on their experiences, I would urge you to consider whether you’ll be able to emotionally separate yourself from the personal lives and experiences of your students. Yes, you’ll want to empathize and be a positive role model in their lives, but you’ll also need to be able to distance yourself, just to keep your sanity.

      It’s a big, life changing commitment, so you’re right to be asking as many questions as you can and soliciting advice!

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I’m going to give you my reasonably biased opinion based on the experiences of multiple friends and acquaintances in the prgoram. One of my best friends was coordinator for TFA in our senior year and is currently in the second year of her TFA placement. I applied, was accepted, and turned down the job, and am happy that I did.

      The application process is quite competitive and very much exploits the “prestige” thing (ie, advertising that they have a lower acceptance rate than Harvard). It is quite involved and I am certain they select excellent candidates. There are several essays, a teaching demo, two in person interviews, etc. They have recruitment targets and attempt to recruit minorities but tend to end up with (primarily) affluent white students from high ranking colleges and universities.

      My friend has found her two years valuable, but also unimaginably hard. Most people I know were not placed in their top choice but in some place in the middle of their rankings. She has been pretty much nonstop miserable for the 1.5 years she’s been doing it and cannot wait to move back and out. She considered quitting several times. At this point, she is only staying to say she’s finished. I think she found the experience valuable but not necessarily worth it, and that’s been a common theme among friends who have joined TFA. Most people will freely admit that it is a very unhappy and difficult two years, but many, but not all, people find that afterwards looking back, they consider it valuable though not enjoyable.

      I find the program problematic on many levels. Friends who did it did not find the training that helpful and felt “thrown in” to the trenches, so to speak. It recruits primarily from a population entirely disassociated from the population it seeks to serve (ie, many find it takes a lot of well off and privileged white kids and sticks them in a situation where they are teaching in an education system so far removed from anything they’ve ever experienced, which is great for poverty tourism but in my gut, not as great for the actual students). Most people put in their two years and get out – few stay in the schools themselves though many stay involved in education. They even explicitly advertise that they are not looking for people who want to be teachers or education majors, they are looking for people who want to change the world. I think this viewpoint, while valuable, may not always be best for the students in the poorer-served districts. I wonder about this high turnover rate, as I think “in and out” teachers may be doing more harm than good for students who might benefit from lasting relationships with teachers. In addition, there is a lot of pressure to “stay in” but a high drop out rate. My friend who expressed to her program coordinator that she was considering dropping out after the first year got NIGHTLY harassing phone calls telling her she would be abandoning all her principles if she were to do it.

      TFA is very assessment based and seeks very much to have you improve scores “on paper.” It very much promotes a model of standardized testing as a measure of educational success. Depending on your own values, this may or may not be an outcome measure you hope to be judged on.

      On the other hand, MOST people I know who have done TFA have gone on to be quite successful (things like top ranked MBAs or law schools, teaching in well respected public and private schools, campaigning for educational policy, etc). Whether they would have done this without TFA, I don’t know – they were all quite successful before TFA, but I’m sure TFA gave them a leg up on their resumes.

      My opinion on it is fairly negative, because I have seen so many people have negative experiences with it. It’s possible that my anecdata is not the norm though and I can definitely say with certainty:
      1) It is a resume boost
      2) It will probably, though not certainly, be an experience you look back on as “valuable”

      So depending what your future goals are, it may be a great or not so great program for you.

      • I was going to write something about my friend’s experience with TFA, but momentsofabsurdity just covered everything I was going to say, so i’ll just cosign this.

      • Another co-sign. Our former babysitter did it. Had a horrible experience, dropped out after a handful of months. She also had a lot of problems with the support and educational piece of it (she was taking ed classes herself, had all kinds of problems that I don’t clearly remember where TFA did not help).

      • I am a TFA alum. Momentsofabsurdity makes some great points. Let me sum up my experience with two anecdotes: (1) I met my best friends through Teach for America, and (2) while teaching, every morning on my drive to school, I used to pray for a car accident just so I wouldn’t have to go to work that day. Make of that what you will.

      • I will fourth of this. Usually I’m good about reading everything before I comment, but TFA gets me riled up in all sorts of profound ways.

      • Little Lurker :

        Completely agree. “Poverty tourism” is an excellent phrase and completely sums up my attitude towards the program: If you want to teach, don’t expect to learn how to do it in 3 months of summer institute training.

        What kind of classroom control experience do you have?
        Are you used to interacting with people from completely different religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds?
        Can you handle the bureaucracy?
        Were you planning to have a social life during the week?
        How will you counter the skepticism and distrust from students, parents, and veteran administrators?

        I’m pretty biased against TFA, and was long before my good friend decided to drop out last week, only 4 months into the program. She didn’t feel her mental health could stand the pressure any more — but now those at-risk middle schoolers will have a substitute teacher for the rest of the year, further hindering their education.

        I believe passionately in reforming education; I just don’t think TFA is the way to do it.

    • I know quite a few people who have particpated in this program. Some have been very happy with it, but many have been sorely dissapointed. I think the difference between the 2 groups is the ones who enjoyed TFA (a) truly had an interest in teaching / education and (b) took time to really understand what kind of commitment they were making before they signed up.

      As some of the other posters mentioned, it is a very difficult program. Teaching is difficult in any circumstance, but with TFA, you are at a school with limited resources and disadvantaged students on top of it. With something so challenging, I think you need to have a genuine interest in what you are doing, rather than a vague desire to help / to do something competitve / to buy 2 more years before you have to commit to something (not saying these are your reasons, but these were the reasons some of my friends gave). It is a very good program for the right kind of person — do your research and good luck!

    • I am thinking about applying to the program as well, so please do share your opinions!

      • A friend’s boyfriend did this and he described it as “every bit as harrowing and difficult as being an first- or second-year analyst at an investment bank, coupled with that culture’s political indoctrination but minus the pay.” Think carefully about this.

    • Former (traditional) Teacher :

      I believe TFA has some innate flaws. I went through a traditional teacher education program (graduate degree) and one interview question from a talented principal will always stick in my mind. “I see you are obviously bright. How can you possibly expect to identify with struggling learners and help them overcome obstacles when you clearly haven’t really had any in your educational career?”

      It was a great question- how could I? It wasn’t until I moved abroad to a country that didn’t use the Roman alphabet that I understood what the principal meant. I stood in a grocery store ready to cry because I had no clue what any products were or how I would navigate living in a place with so little literacy skills. I think you really need teachers who understand *some* sort of struggle to be able to teach children in underserved areas. I also feel like TFA participants get lauded at every turn while regular teachers get demonized. I think it has the potential to create animosity in some underperforming schools where a lot of the long-term teachers have intense pressure to improve test scores or risk getting fired.

      • YES THIS OMG

        “Regular” teachers are not Satan. They are people, just like you and I. Some of them are awesome, some of them suck, the vast majority fall along that continuum. For the most part, though,they care about their students, and try to do their best by them. They might not always succeed, and they are just as susceptible to getting jaded and burned out and bitter as any Biglaw first-year, but they do not deserve all of the vitriol that is currently getting thrown at them left, right, and center.

        And TFA does create animosity in some under-performing schools. I’ve heard stories from my friends about other TFA-ers who get basically blackballed by the entire faculty. Obviously those are extreme cases, and that would signify a school with a whole steaming landfill full of issues. But it does, absolutely, happen, especially when the TFA teacher in question comes in like a crusading angel sent from Elite Coastal School to Fix All The Problems.

    • I can’t tell you guys how happy I am to read all of this. I’m very passionate about education reform, but also have problems with TFA for exactly the same reasons that many of you expressed. Unfortunately every opportunity I seem to come across to do education reform-related work in the legal field (my area) seems to be populated with the pro-TFA crowd.

      Along those lines, if anyone is involved with pro bono work related to education that doesn’t fall in the pro-TFA or pro-teacher’s unions camp, please share!

    • It seems like other people have more personal experience than I do but I will throw in my two cents – I have several friends from college, including a couple very close friends, who did TFA. All of my friends were ultimately glad they did it and actually have all stayed in teaching/education policy (e.g. one went to law school to do education policy stuff, one ended up joining the TFA permanent staff, one stayed on at her school as a teacher not affiliated with TFA). They had some ups and downs but ultimately I think all of them would say it was worthwhile. That said, I have heard a lot of negative things about the program, both generally on the internet and also from friends of friends and I know from my TFA friends that not all of their peers were happy and some quit. The impression I got from my TFA friends was that it depends tremendously on what kind of principal/school/support structure you get and that TFA itself doesn’t really provide what you need in that area. I also get the impression that you have zero time for a social life, especially your first year…I don’t know how well TFA advertises that.

      As with any big decision, I would encourage you to seek out as many perspectives as you can, and make sure you try to talk to people who have been unhappy with their experiences in addition to the TFA and TFA-recommended people. I know there were a fair number of news articles recently about bright, successful young people who ended up very disillusioned with TFA, so if nothing else, I’d try to find those and read them to sort of get the other side as compared to what you’re hearing from TFA itself. Also I will echo what others said that TFA is mostly white privileged kids thrown into very poor environments and that can make for a lot of problems. Of the 3 friends I mentioned who did TFA and loved it, 2 were Hispanic and both from relativity poor communities and both ended up teaching in the schools they went to growing up, so they did not really have the same fish out of water experience, for whatever that’s worth.

    • I was a “traditional” teacher in an urban district for more than a decade, so take what follows as shaded by my life experience. I would co-sign pretty much everything that momentsofabsurdity and Former (traditional) Teacher wrote above, and add the following:

      Please do not do TFA to “fill time” with some “prestigious” “resume booster” until you figure out what you want to do when you grow up. People may say it was “worthwhile” or a “learning experience” for the TFA teacher, but what about the students and the school where the TFA teacher worked? Was it a worthwhile investment for them? It sounds like they called you because they want to improve their hiring rate statistics – if they can convince you to apply, they will increase their rejection rate. If you really want to teach, spend an extra year or so (it took me only 1.5 semesters after undergrad to get a dual license) to get a regular teacher’s license and then take it from there. You will appreciate the additional training and the opportunity to student teach, and you will have time to think about whether teaching is the right career for you. It is great that TFA alumni are likely to be engaged in educational policy issues and better attuned to issues facing disadvantaged students schools, but in my opinion it can be a waste of resources to quasi-train new crops of TFA teachers every year, when they likely will stick around in the classroom for only 2-3 years, and then go on to “greener pastures.” My first few years were really tough, and I was really a good teacher only by year 5 or so (and I completely fit the TFA demographic). It’s kind of an insult to the kids and teachers if you use teaching as a place-holder until you figure out your long-term career goals. I don’t mean any offense to baristas, but being a teacher is, by comparison, a pretty high-stakes job.

    • Wow! First thank you all for such amazing responses- I just got back from my last class of the semester and could actually look at them and I am stunned.

      This gives me a lot to think about, particularly because I am pretty much what most of you described- white, privileged and with no background in impoverished communities etc.
      It definitely does a lot to address my fears that she was just trying to sell me something using the right lingo; and I am taking all of this into consideration before I start applying.
      I am honestly terrified at the idea of being thrown into a classroom with no real preparation (I am from the camp that says we have student teaching for a reason) and I have teaching experience, albeit slightly out of the norm teaching experience.
      Thank you all so so much for taking the time to answer my questions your responses were more than I was imagining I would get.

      • Suited Up :

        To OP: you asked about other pro-bono programs. I am involved with the Marshall-Brennan program. I believe it started at George Washington University law school, but several law schools participate now. I’m paired up with a fellow 2L and we go into a local (urban) high school once a week to teach Constitutional Law- a very student-centered version of it- to a small group of students. We are also preparing a couple of students to debate in a moot court competition. I’m enjoying this so far- maybe this is something that would interest you in lieu of a full time teaching position?

        I taught for several years before law school, in both an urban and a suburban district, and I co-sign the concerns others have expressed above. I went through a traditional teacher-prep program (two full graduate semesters), and I was STILL not prepared for the realities of the classroom. I then taught for 3 years in an affluent suburban district, and when I moved to the urban district, it was like being a student teacher all over again.

        Good for you for taking the time to research before you commit- I don’t know how old you are, but I’m assuming you are in your early 20s, and the fact that you are really thinking this through tells me that you will make the right decision for you! I did too many things in my early 20s without thinking about why I was doing them!

        • Got to give credit to my law school – American University Washington College of Law – for the Marshall-Brennan program. I have a lot of friends who did it, some of whom experienced some of the issues TFA people have faced. I think it really depends on the school and the students you get assigned.

          • Suited Up :

            Ack! I apologize for getting it wrong…I should have googled first! But yes, the experience does vary greatly depending on your placement. The nicest part is that you aren’t alone! It’s good to have a fellow student for support.

  8. Any idea whether this belt is leather or not? Some other belts on the LOFT site specify that they are leather, but other times (like with this belt) I just can’t see where the information is. Can I assume it’s synthetic since it doesn’t specify?

    • Please post if you find out! I’m always looking for cute non-leather belts….

  9. Threadjack. I’ve just accepted and found out that I will be attending a two week training course put on by the company in January. I will be traveling to Boston from So. Cal. I know that it’s going to be a lot colder than what I’m used to, brrrr. Do I really need to purchase cold weather gear for a two week trip or can I just get by with layering? If I do need to purchase anything, what do you ladies suggest?

    I’ve seen previous posts about packing for business trips suggesting traveling with just a carry-on. Is a carry-on going to be sufficient for the amount of time I’ll be in Boston, or would this trip be an exception to the rule?

    • meant to say that I’ve accepted a new job offer. Blah.

    • karenpadi :

      If you are mostly staying indoors, I think you can get away with layering. You will need a heavy-duty winter coat with gloves, hat, scarf, etc. I would start asking around to see if you can borrow someone’s ski parka and accessories. I’ve lent mine out a few times.

      For two weeks, I wouldn’t travel with just a carry-on. I think two weeks is plenty long enough to justify checking luggage.

    • Gooseberry :

      Anon, welcome to town. You MUST have a coat — there is no layering in the world that will be warm enough in Boston in January without an actual winter (or at least “warm”) coat. I wouldn’t worry about other things — e.g., boots, etc. Yes, there is a chance it will snow while you are here (though it’s been so warm so far this month), but (1) you can probably get by depending on where you are staying and how far that is from the conference center, and (2) in a true, lots of snow/lots of walking emergency, you can get a cheap pair while you are here. But, yes, you will be very unhappy if you do not have a warm coat.

      Re: carry-on vs. checked bag, it’s hard to say. I think it depends on whether you plan to just bring a few work outfits and re-wear, or whether you plan to bring a lot extras (e.g., workout clothing and sneakers, outfits for day and night, special toiletries that do not come in 3oz sizes, etc). For me, I like being sure I have everything and I would probably bring workout clothes and sneakers (and, well, not use them), so unless I were travelling with more senior colleagues and knew they were not checking, I’d check for a two-week trip.

      There are lots of Boston ladies on Corporette. If you will be here the THIRD Thursday of the month (Jan 19), meet up with us if you can!

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      If there is a ton of snow on the ground, bring your rainboots. Flats are pretty useless in snow and snow may ruin your nice heels. Rainboots won’t keep your feet warm but they will stay dry and I’m assuming the amount of time you have to spend walking is minimal. Even so, and even if you are primarily walking on sidewalks, it tends to get slushy pretty quickly so something to protect your feet and socks is nice. Bring a pair of shoes to change into (obviously) and see if you can ditch the rainboots in the coat closet at the beginning of the day.

      You will need a coat, but it’s likely a nice warm peacoat will do if you already have one – no need for an arctic parka. If not, I’d try and borrow a coat rather than investing in one. You can get a scarf/glove/hat combo very cheaply, and I would just get them (in grey or similarly basic color) since you don’t plan to need them again.

    • Look into good base layers if you don’t already have these (from skiing or winter vacations). I had to travel to the east coast in the dead of winter from SoCal, and I went to Macy’s and bought some CuddleDuds long underwear, and they made a world of difference. Thin enough that you can wear them under jeans and most dress pants, are breathable so you don’t feel completely stifled if it’s nice inside, and warm enough to make a significant difference. If you can’t find something, or prefer not to purchase, at least bring tights to wear under your pants — it really cuts down on the wind chill blowing up your pants and making your ankles freeze! Also, definitely bring gloves/mittens, a scarf, and a hat and/or earmuffs.

    • Welcome to Boston. If you were moving here, I’d tell you you needed either a parka or a wool coat with a hat and gloves and scarves and layers. Because it can be cooold.

      But, since you’re coming for a work thing, all that might be unnecessary. Every work thing I’ve attended has consisted of the vast majority of the time sitting in hotel conference rooms, then being herded onto busses or grabbing cabs wherever we’re going, and then heading into a restaurant for dinner, then back to the hotel. For all of that, layering should be fine. :-)

      Short story, find out what the activities outdoors are going to be like and go from there.

    • Who in the world is Ellen? :

      You need a coat, boots and gloves. You can fake the rest. You can buy a 3/4 length down coat for about $100, snow boots for $50 and gloves for I don’t know but reasonable at landsendDOTcom. You will not be sorry. I did the same thing two years ago for a December trip to Boston from southern Cal. I use the coat and gloves all winter at home and the boots when I travel (ie, to NYC next month).

    • Buy boots of some sort–you can get a pair at Target (if they even sell them at Targets in southern California). Even if there is no major snow while you’re here, there could be slush or ice or other things that would make it very difficult to walk around in dress shoes. A hat (that can go over your ears, so not a baseball cap, although that would be better than nothing) and gloves are also key–winter winds in Boston can be arctic.

  10. A good friend did it in Southern California and thought it was really worthwhile. She did it because she wanted to do education policy for a career. So before she started her TFA assignment, she had already decided to go get a public policy degree after the two year assignment–and that’s what she did. She’d agree that they are two tough years, but you learn a lot and grow a lot yourself. She also (somehow) managed to get her masters in education while doing TFA.

    I’ve never talked to someone who said they wished they hadn’t done TFA and there are people who wish they had. And TFA is an impressive credential. I vote go for it! Good luck.

  11. Need some suggestions, please. I am currently working in a suburban area where my only option for getting to work is to drive. My car seems on the verge of dying, to the point where it is unsafe to drive, and the shop can’t figure out how to fix it. I am really broke, my current job does not pay well, and I am despondent at the thought of taking on another monthly bill in the form of a car payment.

    Does anyone know of a way I can lease a car month-to-month without comitting long-term? Because I am really hoping to get another job soon, in an urban area where I won’t have to drive. In which case I would just sell the current car for scrap and be done with it.

    By the way, it’s an engine stalling problem..if anyone knows about cars and wants to play Car Talk, let me know!

    • karenpadi :

      Car rental companies like hertz or enterprise will do a month-to-month lease. It’s pretty expensive–$500/month or so when I last checked.

    • Anonymous :

      Fuel pump?

      • Anonymous :

        Check out used (3 yrs or so) Hyundai products.

        If not, when does it die? Hot/cold/rains/etc.
        Suddenly quits or putters out then dies?
        Does it restart?
        What else doesn’t work?
        Do you look after the vehicle?
        Does it do it all the time? Only under certain circumstances?
        Did it just start suddenly or has it been getting worse? Have you tried anything to fix it? Has any well-meaning person tried to fix it for you? Have you recently had work done on it?

    • Check out monthly car rentals like Avis

    • Rent A Wreck.

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      You may also want to think about a car sharing program www (dot) carshare (d0t) org.

    • Lease Busters- you can take over someone else’s lease, which will be shorter term.

    • Is Zip Car available in your area? Might be an option

      • Zip car doesn’t really work for commuting. You pay by the hour that you have the car, and you can’t do one-way trips.

    • Anonymous :

      I know cars pretty well. What’s up? Make, model, year, problems.

      • The car is a 1995 saturn sl with about 108,000 miles on it. Automatic transmission. It was lovingly tended for years by an elderly family member, the last few years with me it’s had regular oil changes, etc.

        The problem is that the engine sputters and dies periodically, especially in traffic, around sharp corners, or if I have been coasting along behind someone slow. It sometimes starts to sputter if I am cruising along, but in those cases I can shift into neutral, rev the gas for a minute, and shift bck into drive. It will then run smoothly for a while.

        The problem is that the issue happens very randomly – there’s no consistent correlation with weather, temperature, speed, or how warm the engine is.

        I too thought it was fuel pump or fuel line related, but the shop doesn’t seem to think so – and I trust these guys, several of my family members and I have been going there for years. And of course, the problem doesn’t happen when they have it, but I also don’t think they are really testing it for long enough, so I will be taking it to a different shop next time.

        I just really, really, cannot afford to pay for any more monthly bills. About the most I could do would be $100 per month for a junker lease- and that would be a hardship. Plus I really don’t want to be stuck in a lease if I move soon, and with my credit I probably can’t get one at any kind of reasonable terms. But I will look into some of the suggestions from above – maybe I will get lucky!

        thank you all for your suggestions, and thank you to anyone who can diagnose my ride. Let’s hope I get that new big city job soon!

        • Hi — Does the Check engine light on?

        • Has anyone checked/cleaned the EGR system? (stalling can be related to that)
          Sputtering means “gradually losing something important” and random/intermittent can be electrical problems, so checking sensor connections may indicate the problem (the all-knowing Internet says there are two coolant sensors that tend to go bad and are very cheap) .

        • My saturn sl used to do something very similar. It randomly stopped on the interstate with me in it even one time. Very scary.

          It took years, but a mechanic finally figured out it was a bad connection to the battery. Might be worth a shot.

        • lawpryncess :

          I know this response is very late, but I hope you will see it. It honestly sounds like you have a fuel injector issue. I’ve had this same issue before in a Chevy and the shop said it wasn’t my fuel system. I dug around on the Internet and found a suggestion to clean my fuel injectors. I pulled them out (it wasn’t terribly difficult) following the instructions in my Chilton’s manual, cleaned them out, replaced them, and never had an issue again. It is worth a shot.

  12. I’m in need of inspiration. What are you getting the man in your life for the holidays?

    • Or the woman in your life?

    • definitely anon for this one :

      Lingerie, because I keep it classy.

    • Anonymous :

      Nook Color + nice cover, for commuting.

      I did some research and I’m just not a fan of Kindle, esp. Kindle Fire.

    • AnonInfinity :

      Concert tickets!

    • Fully loaded Xbox 360

    • A Roku, Clark’s boots, two new Xbox games and a bunch of candy for his stocking.

      I know 3/4 of this list makes him sound like he’s 12 years old, but he’s 55. They don’t really mature, ladies!

    • The men in my life are getting: Clothes, a Lego sorter that looks like a giant lego head, the promise to paint a bathroom, and a selection of music that I think he’ll like.

      For clarification, those are my brothers and my dad. :)

      • Do you mind linking to the lego sorter? It sounds like it might be perfect for my husband….

        • I got it through amazon – but I don’t recall spending that much on it. It was in a feature that Real Simple magazine did on gifts…

          • And now that I check – yup, I only spent $35 on it. Glad I bought it when I did. Good luck!

          • But Toys ‘R Us seems to have it at the $40 range, so there is still hope.

        • ThinkGeek has it, too. I just saw it in the catalog

    • Intro pilot lesson (thank you Groupon!).

      • Groupon is great! I bought my b/f (and myself) a massage off of Groupon for about $35. Hopefully we can trade it in for a couples massage. Neither of us have ever had a professional massage before so I’m excited! I also got him a nice wool winter coat.

      • I bought this for my husband last year, and he loved it. Be warned that the lesson is fun, and he’ll likely come back to you afterward and ask if it’s okay to sign up for the full (multi-thousand $$$!) course.

    • An iPhone (to pull him out of the dark ages) with a cover that he will love, a new pair of tennis shoes that he has been wanting/needing, a pea coat… and I am trying to think of a gift that is more sweet than practical, but I haven’t thought of anything yet.

    • Brooks Brothers non-iron shirt and Brooks Brothers tie (both from outlet); Dress socks; Ornament; and Sur La Table cooking lessons (maybe)

    • Bose noise cancellation headphones; likely some other small things.

    • Research, Not Law :

      Bluray player, kindle, workshirts, alma mater t-shirt, and fancy-pants coffee for his stocking. I’m considering an ice cream maker, too.

    • a old-fashioned-looking record player that is also a CD/cassette player that you can also hook up your iPod to!

    • I got my nerdy sweetie some great stuff from ThinkGeek (thanks for the rec a few weeks ago, ‘Rettes!).

      He’s also getting a sweater and some dark-wash jeans. Lord knows he needs to stop wearing those light-wash ones. Poor thing doesn’t know any better.

      All the men in my family (brothers, father) live urban/suburban lifestyles but have fantasies of being farmers/ranch-hands. They have cowboy boots and like things with John Deere logos, even though they don’t have anywhere to park a John Deere at their condo/townhouse/McMansion. So they are all getting LL Bean flannel shirts from Sears.

      • I bought the electric guitar shirt for an uncle. My mom bought it for my brother-in-law. I got the drum shirt for my nieces and my cousin’s wife bought it for him.

        That ThinkGeek rec was excellent. Many thanks to the original poster.

        • MissJackson :

          Yay, I’m so glad to see everyone getting so much mileage out of this recommendation :)

    • laura holt :

      on this note, anyone have any idea for gifts in the $10-$25 range? we give each other 8 gifts for hanukkah (kind of weird, i know, since its normally only a children’s holiday but its our own little tradition) and this year we’ve set a $200 limit total, so i need a lot of cheaper gifts.

      • Check out ThinkGeek. They have fun stuff for guys and some of it isn’t all that expensive. I’ve mentioned this before but the ninja flash drive from the Container Store was a huge hit at my house.

      • The guitar t-shirt from Think Geek – 20 bucks.

      • Magazines :

        My sister and I do this, too, and we are in our forties!

        What about magazine subscriptions?

    • Harley fleece quarter-zip and lighted LED gloves from ThinkGeek. He’s always complaining about not being able to see when he’s doing work around the house (or under the house). Also, a flexible gooseneck USB light for his laptop keyboard. Last year I got him Western boots, which he loves and wears constantly.

    • A really nice beer mug from Simon Pearce.

    • A nice blazer, a book he’s been wanting to read, a new water bottle, and an emergency air pump thing that plugs into the car to inflate tires (his old one broke over the summer). And since he’s a giant kid a bunch of novelty items/wind up toys for his stocking.

  13. UGH I hate Target’s new website. What did they do to it? Don’t they know how much it sucks now?

    *rant off*

    • Anonymous :

      I wonder who they outsourced it to — previously it was run by Amazon, and that wasn’t so great either.

      • I’ve heard it’s all in-house now; hence, the issues. I miss the Amazon-run Target website.

        The good news is, I’m spending a lot less money there because it’s so frustrating.

    • Sing it. On the other hand, I am saving a lot of money because I can’t stand to use Target’s website anymore.

    • Totally agree. It freezes constantly. I also cannot remember my Target password and can no longer use my Amazon one. Accordingly, Target is no longer getting any online business from me.

    • I can’t even view the Target website from the version of IE I have installed at work. I suppose it’s good for my wallet though.

    • Target, I wish I could quit you.

      But you’re the only place I can find snow bibs for my kids for $19.99, buy one get the second one 50% off, spend $50 and get free shipping.

      Oh Target, you’re a sly one with those offers, but why can’t your website figure them out??

  14. Equity's Darling :

    To the 1L Canadian with the Q from the early morning thread- if you have any Qs about articling or summer jobs anything, feel free to send me an email at cdncorporette at :) I’m definitely happy to pass on whatever knowledge I’ve gathered.

  15. Bewildered :

    Need some perspective from the overachieving chicks here:

    How do you decide when enough is enough?

    I feel like I am hitting the breaking point with my job. I am so frustrated and feel like I am throwing all of my soul into this job with no real outcome. I am being asked to work longer and longer hours, and no matter how much I work someone else wants a piece of me. I can not even get on top of my email box to figure out what I need to do, much less do it. It wasn’t always like this, but I fear that the company culture is changing and if I am willing to try to be a superhero, the company will suck it out of me until I just have a nervous breakdown. On top of 12-14 hour days, I frequently get back out of bed in the middle of the night to work.

    I do nothing anymore except work, it seems. I no longer have the energy to work out or spend any time with my friends. Feeling like I want to go to bed at 8pm doesn’t help that either. I can’t even fathom that Christmas is coming soon & likely will try to skip the whole thing this year.

    I came to this company on a lateral move 5 years ago, and have advanced somewhat, but I fear that if I go elsewhere it will be another lateral move and an overall setback for my career.

    I like the company (in theory) but I hate this situation that I am in.
    I have no local peers that I can discuss this with. I generally have a good relationship with my boss, but he is located overseas, as is everyone else I work with (I sit in a big local office and do teleconferences all day).

    I have taken 5 vacation days this year (1 week in August). I have 3 planned between Christmas and New Years. I tried to take 3 additional ones the week before christmas and was told to book them, but to expect to only take 1. (Since cancelled as I have to go on a trip). The other people in my team (my direct peers overseas) are always sure to take their 35+ days per year.

    Am I losing it, or do I just need a day off?
    I am tempted to do something I might regret later.

    • What you are describing sounds very much like how I was feeling over the summer. I would wager that many Corporettes have been there, in one form or another. That said, I am concerned that you are considering skipping Christmas because you feel this way. You are not alone right now! Please consider finding someone to talk to (a therapist, a crisis line, etc.) if your alternatives are not panning out.

      The thing that helped me the most when I was burning out was a week off. I told my boss I was only checking my blackberry once a day, and I stuck to that. It helped, a lot, and I went back to work feeling much better about many things.

      Try taking some time off, and try to make it nonnegotiable with your boss. Maybe some time to re-focus will help you to figure out whether it’s just a temporary burnout issue or it’s something more serious that needs more attention from you or others.

      Good luck. Please keep us updated, I will want to know how you are doing.

    • Oh honey. This makes me want to come give you a hug and drag you away from that office for a pasta dinner with lots of wine. (Yay carbs!) I’m going to pretend you’re my good friend and I actually know you. This is what I’d be saying: “I hate what this job is doing to you. This isn’t who you are. I’ve seen you go from being a person I really got to enjoy to being hollow and empty, and I want so much more for you than that. This isn’t what we dreamed of when we had all those talks together. I hate seeing you this stuck, and I’m really afraid you’re headed to burnout — the kind that’s hard to come back from. You do not have to be a superhero. (At least not until they hire a WAY better superhero-costume designer and start handing out superpowers.) I won’t think any less of you if you don’t spend your soul to save this company. In fact, I’d be happy to get my old friend back.
      “Let me talk with you about your options. I’ll help you think them through so you don’t get so desperate you react and do something you will regret. Have some more wine. And the creme brulee is awfully good here.”
      Truly. I don’t know you, but I do know that you shouldn’t ignore the desperation you’re feeling, and that you DO have options.

    • Get the hell out.

      How do you know when enough is enough? When you’re describing a job like this.

      If you would rather work at J. Crew that at your office, do it. They’re hiring right now.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      At the very least, it sounds like you need some time off. Is it at all possible to draw a line in the sand and say you are taking off this Friday and next Monday? A long weekend might help you get some perspective.

      Not knowing your company structure, would it be possible for your firm to hire another person in your area? It sounds like there is more than enough work for 2 people. Barring that, maybe you could get an assistant or even an intern or temp to help with the less substantive workload you are facing.

      • s in chicago :

        I’ve so been there and many of my friends. Take a few sick days stat. Spend the first vegging out and then catch up on you things. When you’re feeling more yourself, think about what would make you feel better. Would taking your owed vac days be enough? Can some of your projects go elsewhere or can someone help on the more routine things? Would flex hours to leave earlier an afternoon every other week help? Talk to your boss about workload and bring some ideas. Most bosses would rather work to keep a high performer than see them become so frustrated they abruptly quit. If you don’t feel like that’s what will be enough of a long-term fix, then stop focusing on doing your best and start focusing on getting out. Nature doesn’t like a vacuum. If you don’t do it, someone else always will. I know it can be hard to see when you,re pushing so hard all the time, but you need to put your needs before any project in the bigger picture of things. Your coworkers are taking their days because they recognize this. Also, try not to get too hung up on which level a move is. The best move is ultimately what brings satisfaction to you. And its not always clear cut where or when you’ll advance regardless. The older I get, the more important I realize balance is. Do what you need to so you feel like life is getting more in balance for you. The sick day is a good start. Hit the gym. Catch up with a friend. The point is to stick your head up and remember there is a whole other world out there. Big hugs to you.

    • Are we living parallel lives? Is your company giving you speeches about being a “professional” and “getting things done” blah blah blah. Putting the onus on you, when in reality it’s not possible to do it all. This is inhumane. I actually talked to a career coach today and made an action plan to look for a new job. I don’t feel like I have time for that either but I don’t want to contemplate the personal consequences of staying where I am.

    • In a bad place :

      This is me right now. You are not alone.

      I love(d) the fundamentals of my job. I don’t want to let this situation take that away but I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. No matter how hard or much I work it isn’t enough. For what I’ve received in bonuses/raises in the past few years I might as well have been a low performer. To top it off, I’ve missed some important things in my personal life. Sounds like the joke’s on me.

      Your company will suck it out of you. Why wouldn’t they?

      I might regret it later if I stay much longer.

      Best of luck to you.

  16. I am sending you many, many Internet hugs. Do you think taking a day off would help you get your head on straight, or at least get a little bit of breathing room? If so, absolutely take it–your sanity and mental health is more important than any job.

    If you have a good relationship with your boss, is there any chance that you would be able to call him and explain–hm, trying to think how to phrase this–that you have been given a lot of responsibilities recently, that you would like to know which ones to prioritize, and that you hope he will understand that you cannot devote quite so much time to Projects X, Y, and Z, when he says it’s most important that you focus on Project Q? I would definitely recommend re-posting this tomorrow, though, because I’m sure lots of people have other suggestions.

    And, this goes without saying, but if you mean “I am tempted to do something I might regret later,” in the sense that you are considering doing physical harm to yourself (as opposed to your work computer), please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

    • This is for Bewildered!

      • Definitely seconding reposting tomorrow. Sometimes having lots of people weigh in with things you could say or do helps you see possibilities you just couldn’t see otherwise.
        AND…I am so proud of you for speaking up for yourself by posting here and asking the question.

  17. Someone just hit my dog. What a lame day.

    • AnonInfinity :

      OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I’m so so sorry. *huge internet hugs)

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Oh my god I’m so sorry. Is your dog ok?

    • Oh my gosh! I am so so so sorry! Is he or she all right??

    • He is a Beagle/Boston Terrier and looks just like the link below except a little older. He got out when my brother was coming in the door and the person hit him right in the head and didn’t even stop. :( The vet has him under observation.

      Pets are one of those things that are amazing but man can they make you sad. I can’t stop crying, how ridiculous is that!


      • AnonInfinity :

        That dog is too cute for words!

        Do not think you’re ridiculous for crying. Pets become part of our families.

        I’m glad it sounds like he’s going to be ok. Sending lots of good thoughts to LMo and the pup.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        You aren’t ridiculous at all. I couldn’t stop crying for days when my cat was attacked. Pets are family members as far as im concerned. I really hope your dog will be ok. Sending you lots of good thoughts.

      • I have a beagle. She used to get out at every opportunity and she almost got hit by cars twice. I would have broken down if it happened (quite frankly, I cried once when she cut her foot on glass and needed sutures…so…yeah). It was only after a full year of training she stopped really trying, and frankly, I still grab her harness everytime someone comes in the house who isn’t used to her.

        I hope he gets better. I’m getting a little teary just thinking about this (my husband accuses me of being like the girl in the “I love cats” video). Its really not ridiculous at all.

        Thinking of you tonight and your adorable doggy too!

      • Really hope he’ll be okay. Lots of hugs to you and your sweet puppy.

      • I’m so sorry to hear about your little man — thank goodness it sounds like he’s doing ok!!

        My puppy (well, at the time she was a puppy) had what I refer to as “an altercation with a Honda Civic.” Needless to say, the Civic won. But even though she looked really scary and bad at the time, she’s totally fine. We had a few months where she looked like a franken-puppy, but she’s completely fine today (and she’s 4 now!). It’s like it never happened. Hopefully this will be the case with your puppy — I only share because it’s totally possible for them to get hit by cars and look like they’re in trouble and still make it out ok!

        I’ll be thinking of you and your puppy and sending good thoughts your way!!

  18. AnonInfinity :

    Thanks to everyone on the weekend thread who encouraged me to ask about going to a national conference with some partners from my firm. I finally screwed up the courage to send a friendly email expressing interest with a couple of reasons why it would be beneficial. I haven’t heard back, but I will keep everyone updated.

  19. job applicant :

    There’s a law firm located a five- to ten-minute walk from my apartment that I reaaaally want to work at. As a paralegal, not as an attorney (I haven’t even taken LSATs, yet). I have some prior paralegal experience.

    Would it be strange to just dress up in a suit, walk up to the office with my resume, and ask if they are hiring? Or should I just email, even though I live very close by?

    • job applicant :

      …or would a phone call be better?

    • AnonInfinity :

      Ask A Manager was recommended on here a couple of weeks ago, and she has excellent advice. She actually wrote a column one day about showing up with no appointment — Don’t do it.

      • I recently read her post on cover letters (in an attempt to improve mine). While her “better” cover letter suggestion did read as more interesting than the “average” cover letter, I couldn’t help but feel like it was far too informal for a legal position. Would you send a cover letter like that? Would you trash an application that wrote something like that?

        I’ll post the link in a follow up so I don’t get moderated.

        • AnonInfinity :

          I wouldn’t use an exclamation point in a cover letter, but I like the rest of the second letter. The cover letters I sent to prospective legal employers were not super formal. I think that writing a less formal (while still professional) letter can help show your personality, which is what I’ve always thought would get me in for an interview. I do have very good credentials, so I’m sure that helped, but I don’t remember sending any cover letters in law school where I didn’t get an interview (though, I did the same thing that AAM suggests and sent only a handful of very targeted cover letters and resumes).


    • Don’t do it.

    • I wouldn’t just go in. Even if they are hiring, they won’t be able to interview you right then (and you’d likely greatly inconvenience the hiring manager). E-mail with a cover letter expressing your interest and a resume.