Wedding Woes

"I learned so much during grad school, but I'm excited for my future opportunities here."

Dear Prudence,

I recently finished grad school and found a great job. I did well in school but also suffered from long-term verbal abuse and bullying by a faculty member who seemed to dislike my independence. We had to interact on a weekly basis for more than a year, which took a toll on my mental health. I had night terrors, anxiety attacks, and episodes of depression. I’m glad to be on the other side of it, and my job has a very welcoming environment, but I struggle to discuss my school experience in a neutral way. It comes up frequently because I’m still new in my field. How do I make “normal” conversation without either oversharing or throwing myself back into an anxiety attack?

—The Cost of Education

Re: "I learned so much during grad school, but I'm excited for my future opportunities here."

  • Ro041Ro041
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    I think it's sad LW never thought s/he could report the faculty member to the school.  

    mrsconn23STARMOON44charlotte989875MesmrEwe
  • “I really enjoy my new position and the work I’m doing, thanks for asking. “
    short+sassy
  • Ro041 said:
    I think it's sad LW never thought s/he could report the faculty member to the school.  
    I’m guessing they thought about it and knew nothing would come from it. Grad students (and untenured faculty) have few protections and great risks from reporting. Universities do a terrible job of creating an environment to report. 
    short+sassymaine7mob
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    Ro041 said:
    I think it's sad LW never thought s/he could report the faculty member to the school.  
    I’m guessing they thought about it and knew nothing would come from it. Grad students (and untenured faculty) have few protections and great risks from reporting. Universities do a terrible job of creating an environment to report. 
    Yes, this. Honestly our whole class is being abused right now and we all feel so defeated because reporting it will get us no where. And verbal abuse is unfortunately so common in academia. LW might have even tried to report at some point and been shut down or punished for it. Academia has some huge issues. 


    image
    short+sassy
  • “I really enjoy my new position and the work I’m doing, thanks for asking. “

    This is a good, general response.  If they are comfortable with it, they could also talk about the info they learned/enjoyed in school.  Like, "Thanks for asking.  I wrote my thesis on A,B,C and think X, Y, Z from my research."

    Maybe it's different for different industries/positions, but I'm also surprised this is coming up so (I guess) in-depth? from new coworkers.  Unless a lot of the coworkers went to the same school and know the same classes/professors.

    Although I thankfully didn't suffer the trauma LW did, I do occasionally have to carefully navigate the subject of a previous employer I had.  They could sometimes be a hostile work environment.  I even found much of the company culture offensive, a strong right-wing Christian undertone.  And sometimes not so "undertone".  But they are a good-sized, local engineering firm...JUST like my present employer is!  Everyone at my work place knows who this company is.  They know people who work there and some of my coworkers have worked there in the past also.

    When the subject that I worked there occasionally comes up, I have to really control the disgust in my tone and not let the fury fly out.  I talk more about the work I did there.  If a particular person comes up that I had an issue with, I either keep it short and generally nice or say I didn't really know them that well.  Because I don't know who's friends with whom.  I also don't want to badmouth anyone to one of my coworkers and then have that previous coworker suddenly be working here one day. 

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • “I really enjoy my new position and the work I’m doing, thanks for asking. “

    This is a good, general response.  If they are comfortable with it, they could also talk about the info they learned/enjoyed in school.  Like, "Thanks for asking.  I wrote my thesis on A,B,C and think X, Y, Z from my research."

    Maybe it's different for different industries/positions, but I'm also surprised this is coming up so (I guess) in-depth? from new coworkers.  Unless a lot of the coworkers went to the same school and know the same classes/professors.

    Although I thankfully didn't suffer the trauma LW did, I do occasionally have to carefully navigate the subject of a previous employer I had.  They could sometimes be a hostile work environment.  I even found much of the company culture offensive, a strong right-wing Christian undertone.  And sometimes not so "undertone".  But they are a good-sized, local engineering firm...JUST like my present employer is!  Everyone at my work place knows who this company is.  They know people who work there and some of my coworkers have worked there in the past also.

    When the subject that I worked there occasionally comes up, I have to really control the disgust in my tone and not let the fury fly out.  I talk more about the work I did there.  If a particular person comes up that I had an issue with, I either keep it short and generally nice or say I didn't really know them that well.  Because I don't know who's friends with whom.  I also don't want to badmouth anyone to one of my coworkers and then have that previous coworker suddenly be working here one day. 

    When I started my job about a year ago immediately after graduate school, I feel like it came up a lot. Almost every time I went to a meeting or met a new person, they asked "where were you before this" or something along those lines. My prior work experience was not directly related to my current position, so I always felt I had to mention that I spent the last X years in graduate school.
    charlotte989875
  • Casadena said:
    “I really enjoy my new position and the work I’m doing, thanks for asking. “

    This is a good, general response.  If they are comfortable with it, they could also talk about the info they learned/enjoyed in school.  Like, "Thanks for asking.  I wrote my thesis on A,B,C and think X, Y, Z from my research."

    Maybe it's different for different industries/positions, but I'm also surprised this is coming up so (I guess) in-depth? from new coworkers.  Unless a lot of the coworkers went to the same school and know the same classes/professors.

    Although I thankfully didn't suffer the trauma LW did, I do occasionally have to carefully navigate the subject of a previous employer I had.  They could sometimes be a hostile work environment.  I even found much of the company culture offensive, a strong right-wing Christian undertone.  And sometimes not so "undertone".  But they are a good-sized, local engineering firm...JUST like my present employer is!  Everyone at my work place knows who this company is.  They know people who work there and some of my coworkers have worked there in the past also.

    When the subject that I worked there occasionally comes up, I have to really control the disgust in my tone and not let the fury fly out.  I talk more about the work I did there.  If a particular person comes up that I had an issue with, I either keep it short and generally nice or say I didn't really know them that well.  Because I don't know who's friends with whom.  I also don't want to badmouth anyone to one of my coworkers and then have that previous coworker suddenly be working here one day. 

    When I started my job about a year ago immediately after graduate school, I feel like it came up a lot. Almost every time I went to a meeting or met a new person, they asked "where were you before this" or something along those lines. My prior work experience was not directly related to my current position, so I always felt I had to mention that I spent the last X years in graduate school.


    Oh, definitely!  I could understand that.  I guess I just felt it would typically be a few, general questions.  Like, "Oh, congrats!  What did you get your masters in?"  Or "Where did you get your masters?"  I don't picture questions being asked about LW's advisor/professors.  Though maybe I'm wrong and any questions about their educational experience is upsetting.  It just seems like those types of questions already have short, black/white answers anyway.

    Though perhaps a question like, "How did you like ABC University and/or how did you like the coursework there?"  I could potentially see questions like that being asked and could also be more of a trigger, because it has a longer answer that falls more into opinion territory.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • levioosa said:
    Ro041 said:
    I think it's sad LW never thought s/he could report the faculty member to the school.  
    I’m guessing they thought about it and knew nothing would come from it. Grad students (and untenured faculty) have few protections and great risks from reporting. Universities do a terrible job of creating an environment to report. 
    Yes, this. Honestly our whole class is being abused right now and we all feel so defeated because reporting it will get us no where. And verbal abuse is unfortunately so common in academia. LW might have even tried to report at some point and been shut down or punished for it. Academia has some huge issues. 
    My graduate school experience was horrible.  I actually suffered from nightmares and the other things OP did.  Looking back, I just said it was fine and changed the subject.  The school question will fade pretty quickly.
  • VarunaTT said:
    levioosa said:
    Ro041 said:
    I think it's sad LW never thought s/he could report the faculty member to the school.  
    I’m guessing they thought about it and knew nothing would come from it. Grad students (and untenured faculty) have few protections and great risks from reporting. Universities do a terrible job of creating an environment to report. 
    Yes, this. Honestly our whole class is being abused right now and we all feel so defeated because reporting it will get us no where. And verbal abuse is unfortunately so common in academia. LW might have even tried to report at some point and been shut down or punished for it. Academia has some huge issues. 
    My graduate school experience was horrible.  I actually suffered from nightmares and the other things OP did.  Looking back, I just said it was fine and changed the subject.  The school question will fade pretty quickly.
    This.  Two of my professors in particular left a few scars, but grad school hasn’t come up at work in a few years.  I did a wincing bean dip back then.
    MesmrEwe
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