Author Topic: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation  (Read 4158 times)

jeromedawg

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Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« on: October 17, 2014, 05:43:00 PM »
Hey all!

I'm seeking some of your friendly advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation. Currently it's sort of a love-hate relationship where she really likes her coworkers but it's that one or two managers that really spoils things for her.

One of her managers is very bureaucratic and wants her to take all these accounting courses IN PERSON before she will think about promoting her. My wife has been taking an online course via Coursera for Financial Accounting (offered and taught by a Wharton/Penn professor so it's more than legit) which caught both our eyes since it was free and heck, why not? If anything, you would think taking this kind of initiative might impress a manager even as a goodwill gesture before committing to take an "in person" course. Today they told her that they don't think that's enough and they will still probably require her to take an IN PERSON accounting course at the local junior college. I find that kind of ridiculous but whatever. Now, they do offer "tuition assistance" but I don't think it fully covers the cost of everything like books (which do add up in cost) etc. I know most companies won't cover things like that but sometimes managers, if they really want to invest in you, will offer to cover at least some of those extraneous expenses. This particular manager shows no sign of that whatsoever.

Her other manager (direct report) is just a jerk. He makes borderline inappropriate jokes with her, some of which could probably qualify as harassment (non-sexual). And he's a terrible manager who displaces all responsibility and blame on others or just puts things off and never addresses them (e.g. when she has questions for him about a task, he'll tell her he'll get back to her [and never does] or to go bother someone else). All her other co-workers feel the same way about this manager as he was recently promoted to this position and obviously for the prestige and money without really accepting the responsibilities of it. The part that stinks most is that she is the only one working under him with very specific responsibilities (e.g. where only he and my wife know how to do certain bank recs or whatever, and where he has more knowledge, so no other backups/fallbacks/references when either are out or when she has questions, especially)

Anyway, I've talked with her about looking for something else but she's hesitant to (mostly scared of the unknown). I was wondering if you guys think this Wharton course is something that adds a lot more value (even over an in-person junior college course) assuming she has a certificate to show something for it. And would it be enough to help her find something else easily? Currently she's a "staff accountant" and I don't know the full details of her job but she tells me a lot of things she does aren't necessarily all accounting (e.g. she'll have to make bank runs and be the backup office assistant when the office assistant is out, among other things). For her to be "promoted" to "senior" level accountant (staff or not) they threw this stipulation on her to take an accounting course at the local junior college. She's been studying her rear off for this Wharton course and I can't imagine how much different or harder the material is in an equivalent JC course. Not to mention, what benefits does taking an in-person course at a JC have over an online course that teaches the same material in the context of learning the material for your job and being able to perform at a higher level because of it?

Other than all these issues with management, she likes most of her coworkers and enjoys being at her work. But she's constantly venting to me about her managers which makes me think she's really not happy at all. I know, the first and most important thing is just to listen to her, right? And I have been :) For the past few years now :) hahaha
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 05:58:01 PM by jplee3 »

gimp

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2014, 06:45:54 PM »
I find that going to classes in person makes learning much better. Community colleges tend to be cheap, too, so I wouldn't worry overmuch about that.

However, if her boss is a dick - well, she can at least interview elsewhere, no? Send out some feelers, make some contacts, that sort of thing.

Rustyfa

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 06:47:06 PM »
I moved to an assistant controller position from a staff accountant spot.  What is her education?  Her work experience?  Frankly if they are saying she will be promoted if she takes a JC class then why not take it?  Personally I think the online class is great but likely doesn't add to her worth.  Is it a Wharton course or a class taught by a Wharton professor?

If she does decide to move on I recommend she contact a head hunter.  I was amazed.

Good luck to her.

jeromedawg

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2014, 06:57:27 PM »
I moved to an assistant controller position from a staff accountant spot.  What is her education?  Her work experience?  Frankly if they are saying she will be promoted if she takes a JC class then why not take it?  Personally I think the online class is great but likely doesn't add to her worth.  Is it a Wharton course or a class taught by a Wharton professor?

If she does decide to move on I recommend she contact a head hunter.  I was amazed.

Good luck to her.

She graduated with with a BS in Math and has worked at this [real estate] company for the past several years. Before that she was doing accounts payable at a private food company that owned a bunch of Jack in the Box stores. She's done some AP, AR, and *some* GL stuff now but not as much as she'd like to get into. Originally when she was hired on she was doing pretty low-level stuff and still kind of is. I'm not sure if they're flat out saying she'll be promoted outside of just telling her that she's not gonna go anywhere *unless* she takes the course in person. The Wharton course is taught by a Wharton professor, albeit not LIVE but these are pre-recorded lectures and pretty time intensive. I think a lot of the assignments are pretty hard too but she's been doing pretty well overall.

Yeah, she has some recruiters who contact her on a fairly regular basis with opportunities that come up.

Thanks!

jeromedawg

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2014, 07:03:16 PM »
I find that going to classes in person makes learning much better. Community colleges tend to be cheap, too, so I wouldn't worry overmuch about that.

However, if her boss is a dick - well, she can at least interview elsewhere, no? Send out some feelers, make some contacts, that sort of thing.

I think part of it too is that her manager is old school and probably argues "If I had to go to school and take classes in person to get to where I am today, so do you." Thing is, things have changed since 20-30 years ago. With the advent of all the availability to legitimate courses that are the same as what actual college students studying for their accounting, etc degrees, are taking, it's hard to believe there would be that much of a difference in picking up new concepts and what not. Most of what she's learning will probably come back to her by recall anyway if at all. I've talked to quite a few people who say that almost none of the classes they took in college contributed in any way to how they're doing on the job - most of what they've learned on the job is from just doing it and learning it as they go. So if anything, it sounds like it would be similar with accounting and that if at least know the core concepts it'll help with picking stuff up faster. But you still have to learn it in the context of the job.

Anyway, yea I don't like her boss based on what she tells me about how he treats her and stuff. I would absolutely despise and resent working for someone like that. She has a lot of patience though and sort of just deals with it - I've encouraged her to look around but she is one of those "I'm afraid of change" people where the fear freezes her from moving forward. 

Argyle

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 07:57:56 PM »
MOOC long-distance courses have a notoriously high drop-out rate and results are very difficult to assess.   I would say that for 97 people out of 100, an in-person course would be more worthwhile than a long-distance course.  Now, your wife might be among the remaining three, but the problem is that most of those 97 would also claim to be the exceptions.  So I think it is reasonable and prudent for this manager to want her to take an in-person class.  I have overseen many, many people vowing that they'd stick with their MOOCs and learn a ton, and it happens very rarely, in my experience.

If there's an industry-wide certification exam that your wife could take rather than the in-person class, the manager might agree to accept this as proof of her skills.  A Coursera certificate will carry less weight.  The problem is that a lot of these online course certificates are junk, and even if this one is not, the manager doesn't have the expertise to know exactly what the certificate certifies.  This is where a more widely recognized exam might be useful.  On the whole, though, I think the manager is reasonable in his expectations here.

mozar

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2014, 08:34:41 PM »
The content of the course is not actually what the manager cares about. What he wants to see is that your wife can be persistent and take time out of her schedule and finish a class and pass. Online classes are considered worthless to most employers. Content and learning are not what credentials are actually about. They are a proxy for perseverance. That is hard to prove with an online class for the reasons that Argyle stated.

At the very least she should take the class at the junior college. Then she will be able to ask for a raise from another employer. There are two more things she can do. There are one year masters degree programs in accounting. There aren't a lot of them but they are becoming more popular. Also, if she is so inclined, she could take the CPA exam. That's the mother load of credentials and you can actually study for it at home. But everything else she needs to do in person if she wants it to be useful for her career.

True story: At my last job a co-worker of mine had a PhD in accounting. It took her three years, was extremely difficult, she actually had to write a dissertation. But it was from an online program. One of the better ones actually. I have a masters degree that took me a year and a half, no dissertation. But it was in person. I make 15,000 more than she does.

Sarita

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2014, 10:37:58 PM »
Agree that online courses/degrees carry *far* less weight than brick-and-mortar school ones.  May not be fair, but it's reality.

Noodle

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2014, 07:54:58 PM »
Plus, there are varieties of online courses. Courses for credit through an accredited university involve testing or other assessment and result in a grade. Management should treat those like they would a brick and mortar school,  but if the school is a local one there's really no reason to even discuss the format with them. Just show the transcript when the class is over.

Honestly, I would be on management's side regarding a MOOC course like Coursera. I work with those quite a bit due to my day job, and the only way to prove what someone has learned in one is to see them doing the work that shows their new skills. I might give someone points for initiative etc in terms of evaluation, but if a certain knowledge or skill set were required for promotion, I wouldn't use the course on its own as evidence.

Now, otherwise mgr does sound like a jerk. Resume time!

jeromedawg

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Re: Advice on behalf of my wife and her job situation
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2014, 10:29:26 AM »
Plus, there are varieties of online courses. Courses for credit through an accredited university involve testing or other assessment and result in a grade. Management should treat those like they would a brick and mortar school,  but if the school is a local one there's really no reason to even discuss the format with them. Just show the transcript when the class is over.

Honestly, I would be on management's side regarding a MOOC course like Coursera. I work with those quite a bit due to my day job, and the only way to prove what someone has learned in one is to see them doing the work that shows their new skills. I might give someone points for initiative etc in terms of evaluation, but if a certain knowledge or skill set were required for promotion, I wouldn't use the course on its own as evidence.

Now, otherwise mgr does sound like a jerk. Resume time!

Thanks all for the additional replies! She's going to move forward and register for the class. She said the manager has been nicer and has gotten in trouble with his manager(s) for other irresponsible (non-management worthy) things he's done, such as taking time off without notifying *anyone* hahaha.

But as far as the course is concerned, she's continuing through her Wharton MOOCs now so I think it will only help her with the course at the JC. I *think* the JC, which is literally down the street from us, may actually offer an online course for accounting. But I think her managers will *still* want her to take the in-person course regardless. Since this is will involve tuition reimbursement, I'm not sure how that will pan out in terms of approval and what not. They may not be happy with her if they find out she signed up for or finished the online course offering. I told her just take it and see what happens next year after she takes it - if there's no movement from her managers or no interest in promoting her or giving her more responsibility, it will only reaffirm my position that they don't care or value her a whole lot. I also told her in the meantime, it doesn't hurt to put some 'feelers' out there for other opportunities. It's true the grass isn't *always* greener, but sometimes it really is.