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Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

First, I'd like to thank Oliver J Dragon for the excellent thread title which I am now blatantly stealing.

Second, most of this is preamble which is leading to a question that I'd like some help considering. My question is directed to those with experience in structural building consulting but others feel free to chime in.

Third, a bit of setting the stage is in order. Since the events of my previous thread (http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=289377) I have been hired as a salaried engineer at a small engineering firm in the South. Since becoming an employee at my firm, I have gone through one performance review and received a week's pay bonus and a fairly standard (4.5%) raise. Huzzah. I have been told that I am one of the best EIT's the firm has had the chance to work with and that they are happy to have me. That said, I am compensated in what ASCE's salary survey says is the bottom 10th percentile for my experience/region/company size.

I am currently considering interviewing with a large company in the same city. They are not direct competitors with my current company, but both offer building consulting services (The larger company is a more industrial/process/oil focused EPC company whereas my current employer is mostly commercial/institutional architectural consulting). I think that if I applied the job, I would probably be able to get it (I know the structural department manager and have several existing contacts at the firm).

First, I'd like to say this: I really do love the job. I enjoy working with architects in a collaborative environment to create visually pleasing, economical and safe structures. I enjoy the design process: creating models, sizing beams, determining loads and documenting those designs, Hell I even enjoy hand sketching details for the CAD Techs.

What I don't enjoy (and what is prompting me looking elsewhere) is being take advantage of. I am tired of putting in uncompensated 60 hour weeks in the name of professionalism only to be rewarded for my effort with more 60 hour weeks. I don't have a family at the moment but can't help but think that that is likely a blessing as I don't know any girl that would marry someone who wasn't there most of the time.

I'm not knocking the extra hours, I don't know of any engineer that puts in just 40 and goes home (Okay, maybe in the Gov't....). I get the fact that the customer buys 8, they get one free. I'm hip to that jive man. But I'm tired of giving my life away so that a company that I don't have any equity in can profit a little more. It's not smart business (for me) and beyond that, it's not smart for me personally.

So, rant over, here is my question:

IF you were evaluating the resume of an engineer with building consulting experience for a position in an structural consulting firm catering mainly to architects and he jumped ship to an EPC firm for a few years before trying to move back into building consulting, would that adversely effect your opinion of him? Knowing the details above does it adversely effect your opinion of me? Am I whining over nothing and should just get over it?

It's just...At some point I think someone needs to grow a pair and tell people that if they aren't paying for the work, they aren't getting it!

[Rant REALLY over, No kidding this time]

Thanks Y'all,


RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

Build a raft. No, sorry, wrong story. Get out of Dodge. 60 hour weeks will kill your morale eventually, if you aren't the one setting the agenda. Either they pay you OT, or leave.



Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies  http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

so what's keeping you from walking out the door after 8 hours during the week, and not showing up on weekends?  don't make a big deal of it, just put in your 40 hours.  when they bring it up, just say you have other plans for your time.  don't answer your phone on the weekend.  when they complain about work not getting done, just casually state that increased staff levels would improve schedules.



RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

It's tough all over.  A food court that we frequent has been in existence since about 1996 or so.  Of the original 6 restaurants, only 2 are still in business, and only 1 other restaurant is even open.  And, of the two original restaurants, one has apparently gotten rid of their dishwasher, and are using disposable plates and utensils, and serving dishes in the takeout boxes; the other appears to be doing slightly better, but it looks like they've reduced personnel as well.

Companies will work you to whatever hours they can get away with, to the extent of working you on unpaid overtime.  If they're unwilling to hire more people, even in the face of all this extra work, then they may also be in financial straits, and your future with them might be limited, regardless of whether you work 40 hrs or 60 hrs a week.


FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies
Chinese prisoner wins Nobel Peace Prize

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

You are probably caught in a small firm-poor economy conundrum.

It sounds like you are currently with a solid firm that values your service.  Keep in mind that in small firms, the ladder is climbed by those of your like...not the ones who don't put in the extra effort.

Should you jump ship?  Well, a plus for that would be the broader range of experience available on the industrial side.  Keep in mind that often industrial work is geared to maintenance shutdown schedules so it can get extremely hectic and long hours during such times...sometimes 24 hours or more straight...depending on the industry and the clientele.

The industrial side is often more toward reactive problem solving than planned engineering work.  Experience and thinking on your feet are key if you are in the client's direct line of fire.

Only you can decide which is better for you.  If you really like where you are, stick around and start having some conversations with your boss about your concerns.  

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

First off, pshaw on that ASCE survey.  I've never been even close to it, but everyone near me is paid comparably, so who exactly is answering that survey?

If the only thing you don't like about your current job is the hours, then go talk to your boss.  Say exactly that and that you don't feel you can be super-productive, as you want to be, when you're constantly working too much.  You never know what it will be like to work at the new firm - you might work fewer hours but hate every minute of it.  (Personally, working industrial would be akin to a lower circle of hell.  But that's just me.)

And honestly, if you're getting raises, that's something to be excited about.  My old firm before self-employment was lowering people's pay.

good luck!

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

Been through this a couple of times and did make the transition each way.  First time small consultant to large design/build industrial consultant.  Traded low hourly pay w/ OT for a substantial pay increase.  Still got straight time OT.  This was ages ago.  Firm was bought out by larger international firm and systematically downsized.

Transitioned back to consulting with former colleague who was looking to hire.  Salary w/ bonus.  Much more interesting work, but long hours, little family time, and meager year-end bonus (did not cover hourly rate for hours spent).

Moved to corporate engineering office of Fortune 500 manufacturer.  Good pay raise, again salaried w/ bonus & far better benefits.  Long hours expected.  Schedules tied to periodic maintenance downs and summer extended down as noted above.  Purchased by foreign company and engineering department reduced from 70+ to 13.  Some M & E's went to plants, Civil / Structurals eliminated - used consultants.

Last 10 years w/ 3 industrial consultants, one of which catered entirely to manufacturer noted above.

You never know what the future will bring.  Without either buyout I would have expected to stay with and retire from the larger firms as the benefit programs were so much better than what one finds with small consultants.

Only you can make this choice - and there is no wrong answer.  As I have learned - "There's no need for looking back; all roads lead to where I stand".


RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

4.5% is not an "average" raise.  One week's pay is not an "average" bonus.  You are being treated quite well.

Another option: dial back on your hours.  You get more work because you do more work.  It's that simple.  When the work piles up, it will be diverted (or shared among other overloaded counterparts).

If this job has you on course to a career goal, don't switch to another job that diverts you away.

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

One week's pay is a bit higher than average, in my experience, but not way outside... of those jobs that actually give a bonus (and few do, it seems).  The raise, however, is probably double that from what I've seen in years past (managed a feeble 2.1% myself this year... I'm not happy).

You may be low to start (don't know your field) or you may be average, but they're certainly saying "We'd like you to stay with us".  Trim back to reasonable hours and you may have a quality position there.

Dan - Owner

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

You got a raise!  Nice.

Salaries for civil in the southeast have always been lower than national average, and personally I think the ASCE numbers are inflated anyway.  Don't get attached to the idea that you'll make a lot more money with a switch unless you switch during a boom instead of a bust.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Huckleberry Finn whines at length about job choices (Thanks Oliver!)

First, Thanks to everybody for responding; It's really nice to get an unbiased opinion from other engineers time to time.

I've thought about it for a few weeks now and I think I will stay with the smaller firm, at least for the time being. I think that while I am generally dissatisfied with the expected hours and the compensation, the experience and overall job satisfaction does mean more to me at this point in my career. After I'm licensed... Well, I guess if I don't like the treatment then I will always have the option of hanging my own shingle and trying my luck at it.   

That said, I have started leaving a bit earlier and being a bit more stingy with my extra hours.

Several of you have pointed out that they are treating me rather well at the moment in terms of extra compensation provided. That's absolutely true, I do feel like they are definetly making an effort to keep me happy. And don't get me wrong, I'm not ungrateful but it's just depressing to realize that the ratio of the value of the extra hours I have given vs the extra compensation I have received is on the order of 15 to 1.

Anyways, I refuse to end the post of a sour note. So, Thank you all again for your input and sharing your opinions with me; It did really help me make my decision!

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