DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently graduated from college and received a B.A. in psychology. I have plenty of experience working with youth and in counseling, but I believe I am ready to try other options. How can I land a job in a new field, even though I do not have any related work experience? -- Branching Out, Chicago
DEAR BRANCHING OUT: I don't think your timing is right. You have just invested time and money in preparing for a particular career path. You even focused your energies on youth and counseling within the field of psychology.
As a recent college graduate, it's natural for you to seek employment in the field for which you have prepared. That does not mean that you have to stay in this career forever. More, it means that you are using the skills and experience you have gained to take care of yourself and expand your intellectual abilities.
I recommend that you look for work in your chosen area AND look for internships or after-work activities where you can volunteer and gain experience in a new field that interests you. The best way to move from one area of interest to the next is with a plan that includes learning everything you can about the new subject. You need to receive further education in your newly chosen area, just as you received formal education while in school.
So, take a deep breath. Stay your course for now. And seek out opportunities to expand your knowledge.
DEAR HARRIETTE: At my second job, there is an older guy who works the night shift at the security desk. Every evening he greets me with flirtatious comments and smiles at me intensely. After work, he often walks me out of the building and extends invitations to go out for drinks. How do I let him know that I am not interested and that he is making me uncomfortable? -- Working Day and Night, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR WORKING DAY AND NIGHT: Speak to him formally. Call this gentleman by his surname -- "Mr. Johnson," for example -- rather than by his first name. Thank him for ensuring your safety, then state directly that you are not interested in dating him. I know this may seem awkward, but some people need to be told directly.
You can go a step further and explicitly tell him that the way he looks at you makes you uncomfortable. Tell him you appreciate that he takes his job seriously, but ask him to back off on the personal front.
If he continues with the flirtatious looks and comments, report his behavior to his supervisor. Someone at a security desk should not be making employees feel unsafe. He is not doing his job correctly if he makes you feel this way.