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Dear Wendy

Career Choice

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  • #886901 Reply

    I’m 26 working at a Vet Clinic. I have not gone to college and have bounced around retail and medical jobs. I started at this clinic as a receptionist and worked my way up to a vet tech by one the job training. I was trained to cater to this clinic I am at, and I have tried looking elsewhere for the same job, but was told I am not experienced enough. I have 2 1/2 years experience as a tech but most would consider me as a tech assistant learning to become a tech. My clinic is super toxic. We have rude clients that are enabled by the management staff and are rarely held accountable for any wrong doing. We are told to cater people who have called me stupid and other degrading names. There is no structure and everyone is supposed to just go with it. I met 2 of my best friends working there and both left and went to a new clinic before quarantine. They both love this new clinic and they are being paid the same as I am, as receptionists. They informed me they are hiring for a receptionist and I should put my application in. I want to join them but I am scared of leaving my clinic and I hate confrontation. My current clinic is also very short staffed due to Covid-19 as well and this would really hurt them. I also don’t want to burn bridges, and my manager is very cruel to past employees. She fired my pregnant friend (1 of the girls at the new clinic) when she put in her 2 weeks, the day before her two weeks was up just so she could have the last say. I’m also planning on going to college to get a degree in advertising because this career field just isn’t stable enough for long term.

    I’m very torn and any advice is welcome.

    #886904 Reply
    avatarPart-Time Lurker

    You aren’t obligated to stay in a toxic environment where people treat you like crap. The absolute most that you owe any employer is honesty, integrity and A willingness to do your best. You are 100% allowed to apply for a better position if you want to leave.

    #886940 Reply

    The clinic’s issues are 100% not your problem. They wouldn’t be short staffed if they treated employees well. Start reading the Ask A Manager blog by Alison Green, it’s a great resource and she covers toxic work environments a lot. The only thing you owe your employer is good work and ample notice when you quit, which in the US is 2 weeks. The answer is really simple, interview for the other job. I know it’s scary to give bad news to someone you know will react badly, but the good news is it’s temporary. Keep your head down, be professional, and you never have to see these people again after a few days time. You’re going to have to leave eventually and it might as well be now.

    Also, you can’t fire someone who’s quit. You can refuse to give them a reference, you can lie and say you fired them, but that’s not how that works. You said you have good friends that you’ve made there, so ask one or two of them to be a reference for your time there, since you know you can’t rely on the clinic owner’s to be honest or fair.

    #886945 Reply

    Interview for a better job. You have to look out for yourself and put your future above the feelings of an employer. If your current employer goes through financial difficulties they would lay you off in a heartbeat. They would not be as loyal to you as you’re trying to be to them. Get out of this toxic situation before you internalize the bullshit and carry it with you to your next job

    #886998 Reply

    I’m sorry because this isn’t really in response to the original post, but I saw that mentioned “Ask a Manager” and after seeing it on here a number of times, I just really have to say something. Alison Green may give great advice now on “Ask a Manager,” but I feel like readers, especially those on here, should read the advice she gives knowing about her previous behavior as a manager.

    Alison used to be the second in command at a marijuana legalization non-profit organization in D.C. called Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). I worked there in 2008 and it was such a horrifyingly toxic and inappropriate workplace that I ended up for the first (and so far only) time in my life quitting without another job to go to. The head of a MPP was a man named Rob Kampia who was, and I do not use this term lightly, a sexual predator, preying on young women he employed as well as children of donors, etc. (he used to tag people in the company-wide database as things like ‘hot daughter of’ so and so, single). Alison was his very loyal lieutenant for a number of years and covered for him and made excuses all the time. Rob was finally called out in 2009 for taking a young female employee (and I know her and her ex-boyfriend and all of the people involved, so I know this story was true) home to his house from a bar when she was extremely intoxicated. She woke up the next morning in bed with him without any clothes on. And after first backing those saying Rob should go after this, Alison backed off when the organization’s top fundraiser said he would leave, too, if Rob was fired. She said she no longer knew where she stood on the issue and even said in an email to a former employee that the account of the female employee involved “has all the signs of a false accusation.”

    I am sorry if this comes across poorly, but knowing first- and secondhand what that woman did for years to perpetuate the culture at MPP, I just find it so upsetting that she’s just been able to walk away from that whole awful situation without really so much as a scratch. She spent years enabling Rob’s behavior and now she tells people how to navigate the workplace, including issues of sexual harassment. It would be funny if it wasn’t so awful. I’m not telling anyone how to feel, I know people can change (though it did take her until 2017 to publicly say she regretted standing with him for so long), but I just think people should have the facts about a person who is telling other people how to behave and handle situations when she handled this one so poorly for so long.

    If anyone is interested, these are a few articles that have been published on the topic. To be fair, I have also posted Alison’s column on this issue from 2017.

    #887004 Reply

    LW, you always have to look out for yourself when it comes to jobs and the workplace. Just like your employer (this vet clinic or any other company you work at) will always be looking out for itself, not you. Staying in a toxic and poorly managed workplace that makes you unhappy because you hate confrontation is reallly silly.

    Apply for the new job. You have zero to lose by applying! If an offer comes along and you’d rather work for them, take it. The mismanagement and under-staffing are not your fault or your problem. You cannot control a vindictive supervisor, but you can leave graciously and control your own behavior on your way out.

    #887008 Reply

    I’m not a regular reader of AAM, though I’ve consulted it for job search stuff in the past. I have thought her advice was pretty solid, but my mom (not an asshole, good people manager, pretty successful in tech and finance in the 70s, 80s, and 90s) was always my go-to source.

    I guess if Allison came through all that unscathed, it kind of does make her qualified to give advice. It’s super annoying that some of the most crappy people are so successful at work, but it happens. I don’t know if she’s really an asshole or kind of just did what she thought she had to do to survive: Make her boss look good.

    #887015 Reply

    If you’re unhappy, leave. Don’t worry about burning bridges. If the clinic and your manager are as bad as you describe, they have a reputation in the industry. If they try to smear you, it will look badly on them, not you.

    I’m a manager at a vet clinic. Because of the nature of vet services (clients constantly visiting different clinics, referring to other services/specialists, etc.), I have working relationships with managers and staff at all the clinics in my area and I’m well aware of which ones are well-run and which ones are a shitshow.

    “I’m also planning on going to college to get a degree in advertising because this career field just isn’t stable enough for long term.”

    I want to address this because I’m curious why you think the veterinary industry isn’t stable enough for a long-term career. People are always going to have pets, and pets are always going to need medical care. Even during a recession, when people spend less on preventative care like vaccines and flea/tick meds, there’s still a high demand for surgeries and emergency care. Vet techs are highly sought after (at least where I am, in southern Ontario, Canada), and I always have difficulty finding support staff with clinic experience.

    It sounds like you have all the skills of a tech without the certification. It wouldn’t be hard for you to become an RVT and move your way up to that job at this new clinic, or apply for open tech positions at other clinics. You already have experience in the veterinary industry, but none (I’m assuming) in advertising. Just something to think about. It could be your crappy boss and crappy clinic are making you feel like the whole industry is crappy. You might feel very differently at another clinic.

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