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New job offer, tough decision...
5

New job offer, tough decision...

New job offer, tough decision...

(OP)
I'm a young Electrical Engineer, currently working working for a small MEP consulting company. I have little more than a year of experience since graduation, though I had 16 months of internships when I was in school. I never saw myself doing MEP work when I was in school, I always figured I would do some type of product development, circuit design, etc., or maybe something with aerospace. The company I am working for is an excellent company, their ethics are top notch and generally people are pretty happy being at this small company. My boss is genuinly friendly, very honest in all of his dealings, and truly concerned about employees. I don't mind going to work, and I don't mind staying a couple of hours late a couple of days a week, or even more when necessary because the environment is enjoyable. Pay is fair to good, I have already recieved a significant raise in less than a year. Basically, I don't mind my job, and enjoy it more days than not. I am out of the office visiting sites somewhat often, which helps keep boredom to a minimum. The problem is, I never saw myself doing this type of work, it is really not at all what I studied in school. My biggest fear is that I am slowly losing all the information I learned in school, and in a few years it will be gone to the point that it is useless, meaning I will be doing MEP/power distribution work my entire life.

My dilema is that I was recently offered another job, in a field that I think would challenge me more, doing analog & digital circuit design & reverse engineering. This is more what I saw myself doing when I was in school. The company is again a small company, the pay is 20% more than what I am making AFTER my recent raise, and the cost of living in the area of the new company is extremely low, benefits are slightly better. So far my impression of the company is positive, they have been around for ten years and aparently are turning down work. It seems to be a pretty profitable industry (Military). It would likely be pretty challenging work, as I do not have significant experience in circuit design. I expressed my concerns over this to the two engineer owners, and they said it would definately be challenging, but I would be able to train somewhat under someone else. I have to admit that the challenging work both excites and scares me. My grades were not steallar in school, though I do feel like I can figure nearly anything out in reasonable time.

So, you can see my dilemma. Do I leave a good, stable company doing work I'm not sure I want to do forever for a job making significantly better money, maybe better work, but under unknown working conditions?

Thanks for any input, and for reading my long post! It is greatly appreciated.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Hello,

It is always a dilemma whether to change jobs, as you don't really know what the new company is like. Even if you did, there would always be an element of risk.

Let me give you my story, I did a Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship (I'm in the UK) basically covering all aspects of Mechanical Engineering, Milling Turning, etc. I also studied for a Techincal qualification which had a high regard when I completed it.

On completion of my apprenticeship, I was hoping to get a position in the drawing office, but all to no avail. I was told to wait until I had finished my College education (I had a year to go), and then they would look at the situation again.

Lots of people told me that once you had finished your apprenticeship it was best to leave and find alternative employment, as you would never gain any respect, regardless of how high your position was. Although the people I worked with were brilliant, we had a pool team, Football (Soccer) Team, and some of us socialised a lot together (and still do). The boss was a complete b*****d, the hours were lousy 7:30 to 3:45 (yes thats right, I'm not a morning person) and the conditions were poor, We worked in a building built many years ago, and it was damn cold in the winter.

I decided to start looking for alternative employment, remarkably, I was offered 3 positions. One was working in a fairly new company (about 60 employees), programming CNC Lathes, but they wouldn't let me finish my college course in their time, also it was double day shift work (6-2 and 2-10 alternate weeks). SO this was no go.

Another position was as a draughtsman in Electro-Mechanical (about 100 employees), the hours were suitable (9-5) the location was close, but the drawback was only 20% of the time would be spent draughting, the rest of the time would be paperwork. So this was no good either.

The final offer of work was in Civil Engineering (20 employees), the hours were good (9-4:30), the work was challenging, I would be working on my own a lot, there were on-site visits, not that many but it broke the day up. There would be opportuninty to go to University and gain a degree. All well and good. The down side was the company was 8 miles from home, the office conditions were cramped, and worst of all I would have to take a £3000 pay cut.

But I took it anyway, because it gave me chance to shine. Like you say, my grades were not overly brilliant, but I am quick to learn and pick things up quickly. I had only been there three months and my pay rose by £2000, so I was nearly on the same pay as before, but under better conditions.

A few months later, I got a phone call from an employment agency asking me if I was still looking for work, I said it would depend on the position. The job was working for a competitor of my original company, and it was Mechanical, which was what I trained for, the pay was an extra £3000, and it was doing draughting, which I really enjoy and am good at. The only drawback is that it is 20 miles from home.
I took this job and am still here. Three months after I started we purchased 2D CAD, there were a lot of new products being designed, so we were really busy. We now use Excel, Access, Powerpoint, and a few years ago purchased 3D CAD. All new skills that have to be learnt. Also my pay has more than doubled in 10 years (well above the average rise for Mechanial Engineers).

Only you can decide whether or not to accept the position, have a bit more confidence in yourself. Just think in 5 years time if you stay in your current job, you may be kicking yourself for not taking the job offer. As a suggestion why not ask your prospective employers if you can spend a day or two there before you accept, you can then both see what each other are like.  

One thing though, I would take what people say at interviews with a pinch of salt. I can't believe that any company would be turning down work. Also try to find out more about the company form independant sources, if possible.

What ever you do, Good Luck.

----------------------------------
Hope this helps.
----------------------------------

maybe only a drafter
but the best user at this company!

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Here's the silver lining.  You're young (like myself).  You're expected to make mistakes in any new trade.  You have MEP and consulting experience already.  That's a heck of a resume.  You have the opportunity to challenge yourself into a newer field, one you find interesting, for more pay, better benefits... etc.  The meat of the matter is, if you don't like the new job, you will still no doubt get valuable experience, and easily work yourself into a more pleasant work environment.  Your current employer should not feel shafted once they are aware of your incredible offer, and the fact that it interests you more.  If you leave in good graces, maybe you'll be back if the new job doesn't work out.  So they grass may not be greener at the new job. But,Hey... How green does it really need to be anyway?  For the experience alone, I'd take the new job.

aspearin1

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Hello,

You said that you were recently "offered" a new job...  How come?  Because you applied for it and went for interviews.  If you were as satisfied as you say you were at your current job, with a few concerns here and there, you would not have applied for another job.  Some people may say that they apply for jobs just to see if they can get them.  Maybe, but as a young engineer, I don't think that that is your case.  
What was your first thought, your intuition, your gut feeling?  Was it to take the job or to stay where you are?  Did you ever meet somebody and you had a bad feeling about that person?  Or did you ever go to a place that you did not feel good about?  If the answer is yes, then you can trust your gut 100%.  My gut feeling about your situation is that you already had big enough worries with your current position and you felt the need to look elsewhere.  You and only you will know that for sure.

Coka

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Engineering skills tend to be highly portable and transferable.

That means that you take your skills with you when you leave somewhere and you can transfer them to related areas of the profession.

The end result is that engineers tend to have a lot of different jobs over the course of a career. Typical first jobs are 2 to 4 years and then people move on. Very few jobs last longer than 10 years in this profession.

If you stay in one company for too long, without significant promotions or changes in duties, you not only become stale you become thought of as stale.

You are offered a job, doing something more to your liking, at more money at a place that you think will be a better place to work. The only thing holding you back is that you are concerned about long-term stability.

Big news flash. There is no long-term stability anywhere. The only long-term stability that you have is directly related to what you can do for an employer now that they need done now.

As I understand it MEP is a government program. What will happen when the government changes its mind and stops or reduces the funding? Or changes the geographic or industry focus to somewhere else? Or decides that your employer voted wrong in the last election and gives the work to someone else? Or any other number of things?

Why do you want long-term stability? You are young and now is the time to take chances in your life. If this doesn’t work out then go and find another job. Several jobs in the first stages of a career are not all that bad.

Once you have some varied experience on your resume you will find that getting work becomes easier. Then you will not worry about long-term stability because you will have achieved it not by working for one company but by having a lot to offer a lot of different employers.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

One thing to consider is that some managers do not like "job-hoppers".  

So, if you are contemplating leaving a company after only 1 or 2 years, consider the long-term ramifications of what that will look like on your resume in the future.

TTFN

RE: New job offer, tough decision...


I would say that you take the job offer. As you are a recent graduate, I would think that you would want to be technically challenged more than you would want job stability. I am assuming that you are single with no dependents. As far as them training you somewhat, don't count on it. From what I have experienced and heard from others, you will be left to your own devices regarding training/learning. As long as you can accept this, make the move.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Just thought I'd clarify due to RDK's comment:

 - As I understand it MEP is a government program.

My understanding of the posting was that MEP would be consulting in the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing fields, at least that is how I've seen the acronym in use before. I work in MEP myself (well M and P) and I say take whatever job you think you'll enjoy most, while you are young and can affort the risk of job-hopping.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

As a person who has had 5 jobs in 15 years I have come to the following conclusions.  It IS all about the money.  Many people say they realy like their job, but if they didn't receive compensation, would they still go, I think not.  Yes "job hoping" is is resume buster, but 2 of the companies I worked for closed and if you have legitimate reasons for leaving, no one realy cares.  As a recent graduate I think you should change to what you think makes you happy, as happiness, plus a good paycheck is important.  And remember, this IS very important, do not burn bridges when you leave.  I find people from previous companies are great knowledge bases and that I deal with a similar vendor group.  So, the person you might not like now, may be your supervisor at a future compnay.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

You are in an enviable position compared to many recent graduates. One of my former students has contacted me regarding openings at my company because he has been unable to find an engineering position since graduation. You are employeed and have the potential to move on to what appears to be a more suitable job for your skills and career goals.

It appears from your description of the problem that you are seeking advice from the members of this forum because you don't want to make a mistake. Would it be a mistake to stay in a job that doesn't have the type of future you see for yourself but promises secure employment, or would it be a mistake to move on to another job that holds more apparent potential for career advancement, but requires some advanced skills that you don't currently possess and possibly less job security? My advice to you is this: don't be afraid to make a mistake. We ALL do it at some point in our careers. No one has the foresight to anticipate the potential impact of their career decisions on every aspect of their lives. You will make the best decision that you can with the information that you have at the time. What works in your favor is that you are young and probably have no dependants. The only person that your decision will directly impact is you. That makes the choice a lot easier to make.  

I think that most skilled engineers enjoy the challenge of solving problems they haven't encountered before, and one of the driving forces for seeking new employment besides an increase in pay is the potential to learn. But to do this it takes a leap of faith to some extent. It is not without risk, and some people are more adverse to risk than others. Did you apply for this new job, or did they come looking for you? If you are the one who sought them out, then it seems to me that you have already decided that a change is needed. What is most important to you? Your career potential, your family, your friends, your area of the country? Is your family in the area where you are currently working? Would taking the new job require you to move far away from them? If you family situation is not a primary concern, is the new job in an area of the country that you would prefer to live? Decide what you feel is most important to you, and your final choice to move on or not should be based upon your priorities.


                                 Maui  



RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Bravo Maui,

Well put.  I am an engineer that has have 4 jobs in 6 years.  I have loved every one of them and was forced to look each time, 1, plant closed, 2 plant sale, 3 Layoff.

I know what JigaWatt is feeling and I agree with everything you say.  An engineer that never makes a mistake doesn't do anything.  If we make a mistake we must learn from it.

Alan M. Etzkorn  
Product Engineer
Nixon Tool Co.
www.nixontool.com

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Confucius says that the master has as much of a duty to the servant as the servant to the master and there in lies harmony.
Sadly, the employer too often neglects his contribution.
A colleague, transferring to a new employee discovered he had been awarded a substantial signing fee, not part of the negotiation. A couple of years later the company, as a result of a salary survey, discovered they weren’t paying market rates and gave everyone an unexpected pay rise. They are a leading company in their field.
None the less, it is not all about the money.
Sure, money has to figure in there somewhere, we have to eat and feed our families, but job satisfaction is a major factor in our choices. How many of you get paid for contributing your knowledge and skill here? None. (This includes you, Superskis1965). So money, though welcome, isn't the whole ballgame.
Why do some people stay in one job for so long? Because they like the people they work with and they enjoy doing the job they do. Another is history. In some countries, staying with one job was the only option if you wanted to protect your pension. Job mobility is a comparatively recent concept helped by portable pensions and a more competitive labour market.
Given a choice in staying or moving, there are downsides to staying too long.
Management may regard long term employees as increasingly out of touch with modern methods. Because you become more efficient you may find you cause fewer waves and are thus noticed less. You are not necessarily regarded better for this, you are just forgotten and your significance is not recognised. You may get only the minimum increase each year. They judge that you will not move. You may also find you are doing far more work and contributing to the efficient work of others way beyond the nominal job description (all jobs are what you make of them). Sometmes you need to use mobiity as a bargaining chip. Always be ready to move for a better position and better pay. But also, be ready to move for better job satisfaction.
When companies balance the cost of retaining and the cost of recruiting you wonder why some companies don’t treat their employees much better. The answer may be that the employees signal that they are ready to put up with almost any treatment or they don’t signal their worth efficiently enough.
Just having engineering qualifications is not enough. I could wish that education involved teaching more about negotiating skills, more about how to profile yourself effectively and more about how to be valued at your true worth; strategies for career advancement, goal setting and realisation.
However many jobs you have, some will regard that as too many and others as too few.  The plain unvarnished truth on a CV/Resume is not a good idea. If you don’t show why you have so many job changes or so few, you leave it to the potential employer to make his own determination. Either situation can be regarded positively or negatively.
If you move from job to job, you must have a reason; to gain wider experience is fine if you are starting out, but not so good if you are more mature. Make the reason plain and positive.
If you are going to be a long term employee make sure that your ability and value is recognised for what it is to maximise your returns from the company. Attend exhibitions and conferences, seminars and training courses. Show that you are keeping up. If you can, present. Publish articles in trade magazines. You may find that it is visible activity that counts and not content, but if it furthers your goals, do it.
If it were just about the money we would none of us be engineers (certified or not), we would be board members etc.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Jigawatt-

There are two good sayings you must considered:

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Hindsight is 20/20.

With that said, simply write down all the positives and negatives and then assign them weights.  Add it up and make a decision.  I left a company I liked after only 3 months to take a job for less pay in a field I was more interested in.  I've never regretted it.

Brian

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

(OP)
Thanks to everyone for your input, I appreciate every response. It is great to get some advice from some experienced professionals.

The "MEP" work I am doing now is "Mechanical Electrical Plumbing", basically the only branch of engineering I know of where a PE is really valued. I am gaining some valuable knowledge, and consulting at a small company allows you to work on your communication/people skills, as I spend much more time dealing directly with contractors & customers than your average engineer. I spend maybe 5hrs/week in meetings or on the phone, working out details & transfering information with someone.

I wasn't looking for a job, a recruiter actually called me when I was at lunch one day, he had my contact information from a year ago when I was looking for a job. I all but told him no during our initial conversation, even though the job was going to pay 30% more than I was making at the time. I decided it couldn't hurt though, and agreed to meet with the owners of the company. The interview went well, I basically laid everything on the table. I basically told them that we were both trying to make the same decision, and what was good for them is good for me, and vice-versa. We agreed that I would start with some smaller projects, since I live nearly 3hrs from their office currently. That would give us both a chance to test the water. The problem is, it has been more difficult for them to come up with a project that could be accomplished in that manner. However they still make it clear when I talk to them that they are still interested, and want to make sure I know that they haven't forgotten about me.

Right now I have basically decided that I need to weight both positions, and try to determine what will be best for me 5-10yrs down the road. That is somewhat difficult to guage however.

I guess at this point my primary fear is the actual detailed design I will be doing. I don't have much more experience there other than what I did in college. However, the prospective employer expressed that they were specifically interested in me because I have been involved in a large number of projects for a recent grad, even if they aren't in-depth engineering work. I started a small company straight out of school, funded by an anesthesiologist, we have a (worthless?) patent that is about to come through from that venture. I also have a small web-based business I have been running for nearly 3years, I sell a handfull of assembled circuit boards there every week. I also had four internships when I was in school. So, I somewhat have the feeling that I will not be exclusively doing design, though I know I will need to become proficient at both digital and analog design.

Honestly, I'm not extremely confident in my A/D design ability, I know I can learn, I just hope I can learn at a pace that will satisfy my employer. That fear, along with the fear of ruining my currently excellent relationship with my current employer are the two items making this a tough decision.

Thanks again for any input!

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Just don't sit for too long on the fence.... and hey, you aren't chosing the company where you will be for the next 40 years. Either one is a stepping stone. Maybe you should be looking to where you do want to spend the bulk of your career and seeing what steps are neccessary to get you there. Then you simply test each new opportunity against that goal.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

I knew MEP was Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing.

It sounds like you enjoy your work at your current firm. That would be a major consideration for me. If you are happy working at a job, that has to be the most important thing.

Since everyone seems to be handing out cliches I thought I just add mine: Better the devil you know. Not to sound unadventerous, I've had a share of new jobs and at least once the move looked better on the surface, but I only ended up working at the company for one year before I had to go.

On the other hand, a large variety of work experience early in your career can make your resume more appealing later in your career.

Maybe you should just flip a coin?



RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Changing jobs has never hurt me abit. It broadens your experience and makes you more valuable over time. The key I believe is to leave the current job with all of the near term commitments fufilled, and on good terms with the present employer. They sometimes beg for you to stay, but, generally will accept the move. I high been in high tech and research, but now migrated to the low tech power for now, as quantity over quality has its rewards, but it is all challanging, and your tastes change over time. Beware, management positions will erode your technical skills over time.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Moving to a new job closer to your education after 1-2 years out from college is not job hopping. A job hopper is a guy who has never been anywhere more than a year or two in a 10 year carrer and wasn't a contractor.

Do some homework on the new place and don't burn bridges at the old one when you leave. Military employment is unstable. If the democrates are in charge in the US it is bad. If the republicans are in charge it is good. Also man power needs depend on contracts being awarded. When they are done your job maybe too.

Good luck

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Jigawatt: There are some among us who have a great need for a mental challange and I'm not talking about genious but the average man. The guy who needs to keep pushing his brain cells to a greater limit
I will give you my perspective. I have been retired for 10 years now, and I can say that the most important thing you have to know "IS YOURSELF" I know who and what I am from the bottom of my soul and that is, I survive in problem solving. I have always gone for the position that was the most challanging and not for the money. The money always came anyway.  My happiest times in this business were when I was confronted with an unsolveable problem and yes many times I was scared silly on some of the decision I had to make but I was always proud of my success and failures. I am still active in my chosen field. PLEASE don't look back and say I should have ... DO not be afraid of setbacks always use them as a learning experience,I promise you will get better and better if you keep up the challange. do not settle for less then you are capable of doing.  I hope some of this is worthwhile.Don't let life take you you have to take it and use it ALL up.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

By now I'm guessing that JigaWatt has made his decision and acted on it.  But here's another piece of advice which might be more of a cliche.  My dad used to tell me that a good way to make a decision after weighing all of the factors and still being undecided was to flip a coin.  When you catch the coin, don't look at it.  Think of how you hoped it would turn out.  You've already made your decision in your mind.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Honestly, I am at the point in my career where I base more of my decisions on geography. I had a job that was absolutely great, except the town that it was in offered very little in the way of excitement for a young single guy.

Even now while I've been dating a girl for two years, I'm not exactly settled down.

Is it in a town I'd be happy in?

I may have a decision like this coming up soon where I could make significantly more. But I worry about leaving my parents who are getting older behind.

I hope I find something similar closer to home. Time will tell.

What is really most important to you? I know professional accomplishments are very important. But to me anymore my life outside of work is so much more important.

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

EngineerDave-

What a good point.  If you can't spend your money in the place that you live, its time to get a job closer to someplace that interests you.  In my case, I want to move someplace warmer where I can enjoy my time off rather than sit through snowstorms for 6 months out of the year.  Although I find my job challenging and rewarding, I can't enjoy myself when there is snow on the ground and its 30 degrees outside!

Brian

RE: New job offer, tough decision...

Because you're inside and not skiing ?

I do know quite a few people who, like me, ditched transfers because of family ties.

TTFN

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