updates: the volunteer pressure, the good dog, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My contact won’t stop pressuring me to volunteer while I’m on medical leave

I wrote you a couple years back about my crazy volunteering gig. I have some happy updates on this. First of all, my medical issue cleared up!

I ditched the volunteer gig and left it in the dust. I blocked the contact on all forms of media and I never hear from her. My friends from my cultural community heard me out and they understood the situation, and now we hang out separately at kids and family events. She hasn’t been much of an issue in my life, though I still hear about her antics through friends-of-friends and she once sent one of her employees to my class to give a presentation on her work, looking for more volunteers to join her at both the work she does (an NGO that works on integration in the country we live in) and the volunteer work we both did.

I think I mentioned in my last update that I was starting my Master’s degree and she had just accepted a position to head up the biggest organisation in my field. I was a little concerned about how the overlap would work out, but for my first year of my degree I just focused on my studies and figured I would work out the rest later. Well, I did, and in a really amazing way!

We had a career fair at my university and a museum I always loved in my city was supposed to be there, but they didn’t show up. I asked the event organiser what they were hiring for out of curiosity, assuming it wouldn’t be anything related to what I was studying for (I am studying social sciences, it’s a natural sciences museum). He wasn’t sure, but he passed along my contact information to the person who was supposed to show. That person contacted me right away and briefed me on the projects they were working on, and it turns out not only were they looking for someone in the social sciences, my volunteer work and organisational skills were exactly what they needed. I negotiated a six months internship, which I then based my master’s thesis on to continue working with them. The project has been delayed due to the pandemic, but they’ve told me they want me back on the project when it resumes and there’s also been talk about opening up a fellowship with my university so I can get my Ph.D. with them. The project field is a relatively new one and there’s a lot of interest in the work and the subject in the academic, governmental, and business worlds, so there’s a lot of opportunities ahead of me.

It’s really been an amazing couple of years. Thank you and your readers for talking some sense into me and helping me understand a toxic situation that was doing nothing but holding me back. I feel free, with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of me.

2. Employees want to throw me a baby shower but we just need money (#2 at the link)

I’d written to you back in November about staff members wanting to throw a baby shower for me (a supervisor) and my wife after we adopted a baby boy.

I expressed some discomfort to the organizers about accepting gifts from people that report to me, which didn’t do much to dissuade anyone, but I was able to stall things until the adoption finished winding its way through the courts. Of course, right now our courts are closed for non-emergency matters due to the pandemic, so we still haven’t been able to complete the last legal step of the adoption. On the very slim bright side of that, I’m guessing by the time the legal process starts back up and we can complete the adoption, folks at work will have likely moved on from wanting to give us stuff.

3. How do I break bad news about my dog? (#3 at the link, and first update here)

Not much has changed since my last update, but since I missed the WFH pets post, I thought I’d share a photo of the new cuddler I alluded to in my update last year. Here he shows that even without the open office, people will still stand too close to you when you’re trying to work. (This is the only photo I could find of him where he wasn’t belly-up receiving pets.) Since I wrote in last I’ve changed teams and found a lot of happiness in my new job; when going to the office is a thing, Crash Override gets to come with me almost every day. We’re looking forward to going back to the office someday so he can greet his long-lost friends from work!

updates: the volunteer pressure, the good dog, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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