Help a young grad out :)

Got an email from a loyal PDITFer. Here’s what it said…

I have a bit of a decision to make and heard from a birdie that you are the man for financial/life questions…i kinda just need a wall to bounce ideas off of.  Here’s some background info first. I just graduated, have a great job lined up with the company I want to work for, doing what i want to do, and in the right ballpark money wise ($55-60k)…not a home run but definitely a solid single/double, and great benefits plus a 6% 401k match (great right).

Problem…just got some info on a possible job working in a different city as an entry level civil engineer for that city STARTING out at $70-$75k which could easily jump a year later. Now I don’t want to toot my own horn but I think I am a great candidate for the job and have better than a 50/50 chance of nailing it…not exactly the job i want to do though.  My questions are these, should I at the very least apply for it, take it if i get it, or stick to my guns (the job i already have lined up, since it is very much what i want to do and has a lucrative career path of its own)?

Ahhh, To be a whore to money, or not to be, that is the question. One that you already know the answer to. Being that you are a recent college student I am going to assume you were either not working, or only working part time while in school. This means you have been use to living a minimalist lifestyle (hopefully). Although making $70K/yr would be awesome, I think you’d find a $55-$60K salary will afford you virtually the same lifestyle. Heck I graduated college making $38K/yr and let me tell you, I felt like a millionaire.

Let’s look at two statements you made to describe these jobs. For the first position you said…

“I just graduated, have a great job lined up with the company I want to work for, doing what i want to do

And for the civil engineering position you said…

“…NOT exactly the job i want to do though”

That puts the nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned. The lower (but still adequate) paying position sounds like a great gig, with great benefits, and great potential. The higher paying position sounds like the only thing it has going for it is the pay.

I personally made a commitment to myself to never work a job I didn’t love. I mean come on, we are WAAAAAY to young to be miserable in our respective careers. Not even money can make a crappy job fun. All it can do is make a crappy job a little less miserable. Besides, you can always find another miserable position down the road if you want, but the good jobs are few and far between.

Nonetheless, I would still encourage you to apply for the higher paying gig. If nothing else it will give you some more interviewing experience and a chance to learn more about the position. I’m totally convinced options are a good thing, so I say open as many doors as possible. But for now I’d stick with the job you’d enjoy doing. Oh and I need you to pinky promise me you will live well within your means, regardless of your pay?!

What would your advice be to our recent college grad? Would you sacrifice a great job, for a mediocre one that has better pay?

17 thoughts on “Help a young grad out :)

  1. Did you accept the first job offer? Sounds like it.

    My personal experience is that the best companies came to my school early so they could recruit the best and the brightest. They didn’t pay the highest because they didn’t have to. People wanted to go work for “most admired” companies that show up in fortune and the like because they have other things to offer (good location, training, career advancement, etc)
    After I accepted my job offer, I stopped looking.

    So, if company #1 has their act together and recruited you early, I bet there are a lot of other equally bright and wonderful folks at company #1 that you will learn from. In addition to the quality of work, the other really important thing is your colleagues. If you work for a great company, you’ll also have more exposure to fantastic mentors that will take you under your wing and teach you stuff.

    In my experience, my starting salary was decent, but not the highest of my peers. The company was great though. Fast forward 10 years and I’m doing better than fine financially, and ninja was right..going from making $2.50/hr + tips waitressing to $40K/year felt like a fortune.

    The only companies that had higher starting salaries in my field (chemical engineering) were big oil. So, yeah, it was definitely worth 10K less to not have to live in Alabama or Texas knee deep on an oil rig somewhere. Especially now, their reputation isn’t the best and definitely not the brightest.

  2. He hasn’t even applied for job B yet, and there’s no proof he’ll get it. If he has accepted job A already, but gets an offer from and accepts B, he risks burning bridges with A, which is the place he really wanted to work. There’s no harm in interviewing for B, but if A also has a lucrative career path, $55 for entry-level is more than respectable in an economy with 10% unemployment.

  3. I totally agree, and have done the same thing recently…
    Being in a job where you are happy is number one, then you figure out how best to live on what you have while being in your happy job. If people take jobs where they are less than fufilled, they may well end up packing it in and then what are you left with? I do also agree that the interview would be good experience, and good luck to you in your (in my opinion) exciting well paid position.

  4. i am in a similar situation, i am leaving my current firm for another. i have been with the current employer for almost 4 years and its been a great ride but i an not fufilled by the work. i found a great job doing what i think i want to do for a little less money but i know that its the right move because i will love going to work every day. i think that is the most important thing for the college grad, work spills over into all you do so if you are not happy at work you wont be happy in your other activities.

    As for doing the interview, i would only interview for companies that i would accept job offers from, if you interview with no intent to take the job you are wasting your time and the time of the potential employer.

    Good luck

    • I think an interview works both ways. The company interviews him, but he also has the opportunity to interview his prospective employers. I don’t think he should do the interview if there is 0% chance of him taking the job, but I would definitely encourage an application if he wants to know more about it.

  5. Hey, young grad! I’m with Debt Ninja on this one. Go with the job you love. I have a couple questions though: 1) Is the job in another city a place with a higher cost of living? If so, you’re not going to enjoy the salary increase. 2) Do you have any big financial goals? (i.e. Paying off a lot of student loan debt, saving up for a down payment, etc?)

    In my experience, the only thing that will get you through a less-than-fun job is if the job is helping you reach goals you couldn’t otherwise reach. I’m sticking with my crap job after college because the pay prospects are better than my intended field. Staying at this position will help me pay off my student loans quickly and save up for a home, which is what I want. Don’t go with the crap job if all you’ll get out of it is a slightly inflated lifestyle. ($55,000 is a lot of money to make when you first graduate.)

    And I agree with Skrizel. If you don’t intend to take the job, don’t waste the potential employer’s time (and your own) by going in for an interview. Good luck!

  6. I also agree with Ninja. I would totally stay with job 1. If you hate your job, no amount of money is gonna make you happy. I had a sweet setup. I worked part-time from home making some really good money. But I hated what I did, and I was miserable.

    I say, go with your gut, and be happy!

  7. My basic answer is “take the job you think you’ll like best,” as everyone else here has said.

    There are other things to consider though, such as where the jobs are located. It seemed like one city was as good as the other, but I’ve taken jobs that weren’t perfect just to get to the city I wanted.

    I’d interview for job B, and if it’s offered, see if job A would be willing to bump up your pay a little. Talk about how much you want to work for Company A, but say that the monetary difference is difficult to swallow. Be prepared for them to say no.

  8. I wish to disagree with Ninja. If you are just getting out of school, chances are he doesn’t really know what he wants. Maybe he will end up liking the better paying job. And even if he doesn’t like it, he can leave that one for another. And then he would have a better leverage for negotiating his salary.

    If the original poster is reading this, don’t go by popular vote here. Try out for the other job

    • Ella has a good point i didnt consider, i have been working for several years and know what i want to do now after some real life experience. straight out of college i had no idea what i wanted to do other than get a job and make cash. it cant hurt to interview as long as he is willing to take the job if offered, and after a few years if it is really not what he wanted look for something else then.

    • Ella!

      I totally agree with you. When I was in college I thought I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. When it came time to pick an internship, I picked the one in a field I NEVER considered just because it was the highest paying offer (and I needed to buy a car after the summer). Working for that company, I absolutely fell in love with the industry and now I can’t believe I ever wanted to do anything else.

      Dear OP:

      If you already know you want to do Job A, why not try out Job B, you might really like being a civil engineer. If not, you can go back to whatever field Job A is in and at least you would’ve been making good money in Job B! That is, unless…

      1) Job A is like a once in a life time rare opportunity. Does Job A allow you to work with a leader in the industry? Is Job A in a field that is notoriously hard to break into? You get the idea.

      2) You won’t adjust well in a new city. Some people find it very hard to be away from friends, families, etc. No amount of money is worth being homesick all the time.

      Hey, at least you’re in a win-win situation! Congrats!

  9. Well, I’m a ways from just graduating from college but if it’s a good job with ok pay that could lead to growth in the company I would take that over a job that pays better but you think it could suck. A crappy job that has all the bells and whistles (insurance, long paid vacation time off, etc.) is not worth the headache of going in to work every day unhappy.

  10. well said Jerry. some people work their whole careers and never reach $55k. If that’s entry level at the company YOU want, imagine 10 years out. Think marathon not sprint kid.

  11. Reading Loyal PDITFer’s question again, it sounds like he/she just got the word on the new job possibility and thinks he/she may not like it based on the job description. It might turn out, however, to be a great job, work place, etc. Loyal says it’s in a different city, so as some have pointed out, it’ll be important to compare living costs, quality of life/fun, distance from family & friends, etc. (if Loyal doesn’t already know).

    So I would say definitely check out the higher paying job and city, then do the standard cost/benefit analysis to make the final decision.

  12. thanks, appreciated all the input. Took a while for me to realize that I have exactly what I want (and know what I want since i have interned in the field the past 4 years) and I got it…if somehow things don’t turn out the way I want, I can look elsewhere later. The place I will be starting out is in the middle of nowhere, CA (only there for the first 6 months) which is good in that it’s cheap starting out and its only about 45min from big city life…but it’s in the middle of nowhere. Plus the company I will be with has a lot of potential for travel and a great training program (which I like…a lot).

    The higher paying job was out of Oakland (higher C.O.L and kinda sketch…sry to oakland lovers) but I may still apply, like you said for practice and it never hurts to have one more connection (i feel if you actually meet the people at a company whether you take it or not, it makes that connection a lot stronger for later possibilities). Also, I would learn more about the details the job entails. Thanks again to everyone for all the input…nice to have a wall to bounce ideas off of and thanks ninja for postin my question.

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