DEAR HARRIETTE: A professional friend called me to ask my advice about working for a company I worked for a few years ago. I had a horrible experience working with management, even though I liked the job I did. It's weird -- on one hand, it could be awful, but it was good, too. My friend was asked to assume a leadership role. It could be a good opportunity for him. I don't want to dash his hopes.
My biggest concern is that when I worked with these people, they did not pay their bills. It hurt my professional reputation. I would hate for my friend to have the same thing happen to him. He is so excited. Do I dare tell him details of what happened when I worked there? -- Professional Advice, Chicago
DEAR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: Your friend contacted you as a reference, believing that you would share your professional insights with him. Do that. Too often, people go into new opportunities without getting perspective. Find out from your friend what is being offered to him, what responsibilities he will have and what promises have been made regarding hiring. Suggest that he ask directly about the questionable debt practicies.
Then tell him your pros and cons. Be specific about what you appreciated about the job and how you benefited. Conversely, describe the areas that concerned you. Do not attempt to make a decision for your friend. Instead, paint a clear picture of the company from your perspective, and then leave him to make his own decision.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My company is taking the leadership team on a retreat soon, and I have been invited. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity. The only thing is, I have never been out of the country, and I don't have a passport. I heard that it takes a long time to get a passport. I don't want to miss out on this trip. I also don't want everybody to know that I have never been anywhere. Most of my co-workers who are on the fast track spent a semester abroad while they were in college. Quite a few of them go to the Caribbean every year. Me, I just work and go home. I work a gazillion hours, which is why I have been promoted. I worry that I'm not going to measure up. -- Going Abroad, Cincinnati
DEAR GOING ABROAD: You are likely not alone. Many people get passports when they are adults. Do not be ashamed about that. Get proactive. You can get an expedited passport -- for a premium price -- in a matter of days. You may need proof of travel, which would be a copy of your airline ticket. Then you should get your passport photos taken and choose an expediter to process your passport. Depending on how much time you have, you can also process it normally. Without extra fees, you need four to six weeks. Expedited is two to three weeks, and expedited through an agency is about eight days. For more information, visit travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/processing-times.html.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)