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24 and no idea what is best for my career... will I let my company down?
August 1, 2014 2:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 24 year old female living in the UK. I graduated with a good Journalism & Advertising degree in 2011, and since then have had a handful of jobs. First I worked in retail, then managed to get a graduate internship for 3 months at a magazine. When that ended, I landed another temporary job with a communications company doing a (pretty mind numbing) job with their CMS systems/websites. So I moved from that job after a few months into the one I'm in now because it is permanent.

This job is a Digital Marketing role for a successful recruitment business. I enjoy it here, there is a really good social aspect, and because of the nature of the business most employees are similar in age. There's a big emphasis on reward and on teamwork, and I feel very comfortable. The job itself is quite a challenge though. I have no marketing manager to work from, a team member left because she disliked the environment, and I run a department that should ideally have 5/6 staff members with just myself and a graphic designer. I enjoy the challenge, but feel that I am only treading water here and find it very frustrating. They have promised me training in areas I lack skills, as I am still young and have a lot of responsibility with little experience. I trust that they will provide me with this eventually, but it is slow going. I have had no experience in a marketing role working under a manager, and therefore I feel like I am missing out on vital learning. I do what I can, but that's all I can do.

I got pointed in the direction of another job, slightly better paid and a reputable university in my city. A friend recommended me for it, and I have recently been for an interview. I am confident that I am a good candidate. The environment is naturally more formal, but undoubtedly more structured. Far more people to learn from, a structure that is clearer and less stress as I won't be out of my depth. The package is better, I would double my holiday allowance, have flexible hours (unlike now where I have to work recruiter hours 8-6) and many other benefits associated with moving into the public sector (including study funding as they're a uni). Closer to home, and a travel allowance too. My friend currently works at the uni and loves it (not the same department though)

I do however, feel like I would let this organization down. They have recently promoted me and increased my pay, promised me training as they would like me to manage the department as an actual manager in 18 months. I see a lot of progression and they put a lot of trust in my to hold their marketing together. If I left I know my manager would be stressed out and disappointed that they're back at square one after all the work we'd put in. I'd also worry about moving again so soon. I have only been at this job for a year, and don't' want to come across a s a job hopper.

But at the same time, if I get this job then it would be a big opportunity as they're a reputable organization and I could learn from them a lot. It isn't the exact direction I wanted to take, as I wanted to move into a more creative organization and not an even stuffier corporate environment that the one im in now. The benefits package, the higher salary (although not much higher - i reckon id get that here by January) and the opportunity to learn is the big draw. I would be sad to lose out on the buzzing atmosphere of my current company and the people and friends Ive made - but I would not miss the job as it is incredibly unorganized and frantic and I don't currently enjoy it all too much.

However, the one at the university might prove to be stifling and mundane, as I have always worked autonomously here, and have the opportunity to work the way I want and recruit a team around me. I appreciate most people sill say "you might not even get the job yet!" but I suffer from anxiety especially about making decisions so id like to have an idea if the job comes through.

In short my two options are:

1. Move to the university and take a role that I will definitely have a better package, more freedom, more learning opportunities, more structure, more exciting topics to work with, perhaps some travel. But with less social side, not much autonomy, progression not as fast. Also, let my old company down.

2. Stay where I am, progress quickly into management, build a team around me that I want and run it how I think best, with a great social side and good rewards. But with more stress, no manager, really boring topics, difficult people to work with sometimes, nobody to learn from and general frustration about how the department is poorly structured.

Any advice on making this decision will be gladly received.
posted by littlepeeo to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
let my old company down

This is not something you need to worry about. Ever, ever, ever. Companies are not, in general, rewarding of loyal behavior. Your decision to take a different job is none of their business, and if they feel any disappointment, that's their own problem.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:05 AM on August 1 [10 favorites]


The company would get rid of you in a second if it suited them. Do not worry about doing the same thing (moving on if it suits you).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:30 AM on August 1 [11 favorites]


Only staying at the job you're doing now for a year's plenty long enough, so no need to worry about looking like a job hopper. Especially as you're so early in your career.
posted by ambrosen at 3:35 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


At this stage in your career you need to focus on learning. You could learn a lot from moving into management quickly in your current job. But you could also learn a lot of bad habits by moving into management at an early stage in your career without receiving appropriate guidance.

I worked in a job with poor management and high expectations of my output for five years in the early stages of my career. I loved the autonomy and control I felt over my day to day work.

I left and went to a public sector job where there was a far more hierarchical structure with a controlling manger which really frustrated me. My autonomy was taken away and others seemed to control the structure of my work.

I gave myself 18 months, because that seemed the right thing to do. I've stayed two years now and see myself staying another two or three. My manager, who is so damn uptight and controlling and has such high expectations of other peoples work, drives me crazy.

However she immediately identified my potential and sees me as someone who has a great career. She's doing all she can to develop me including putting me on high profile projects so others can see my potential. As a result the head of my department knows my name. I was in the top 5% of the organization in performance last year. All because the environment is way more structured.

So yeah, I've lost autonomy & control & fun & friends. But I've learned so much and my career is benefiting way more.
posted by bernardbeta at 3:37 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


bernardbeta - You raise an interesting point, in that even the negatives of moving to the new job might actually be benefits in the long run. But I suppose you could say this about the other role too. When i first started my current job the lack of structure and management seemed like a negative, but it's been a positive on my career thus far as learning for myself and being forced to grow has helped me understand my role and myself better. I see that as a positive now, but it certainly wasn't to start with. And it may not be anymore. It's a tricky one to weigh up.
posted by littlepeeo at 4:01 AM on August 1


I guess the main thing I was trying to emphasize was that I really enjoyed my earlier job. I learned so much and so quickly. But I sometimes wonder if I picked up bad habits as a result.

To use a metaphor: I was in a sink or swim environment. I swam. But did I learn the right swimming technique? I'd say no. To continue with the metaphor, my current job recognizes I have the potential to be a great swimmer and is training me to become the best.

So ultimately my recommendation, based on your question, is move on. Go where you can learn from others, not just yourself.
posted by bernardbeta at 4:25 AM on August 1


If I were you, I'd move on. As others have said, employers have just one loyalty: to the bottom line. If they can improve their own financial standing by giving you the boot, they will. While it's tempting to take the moral high ground and show them the loyalty and courtesy that is so sadly lacking in today's career world, you have to look after number one. You're the only one who has to live your life, so you get to decide where you spend your days and what you do.

I'm in a similar sort of situation myself - a little different to yours, because I literally just got hired to a new job after a redundancy a few weeks ago. It's a decent job, doing pretty much what I was doing before for more pay, in a bigger company. But it's 40 miles away from home, and I took the job on the understanding with myself that I'd be temporarily commuting until I moved to this area.

Fast forward a week or so, and I've completely done a U-turn on my plans. You see, I love where I live. I have a great little house, and good neighbours, and it's a super location in an area I've really grown to like living. Before I got this job, moving away was an abstract notion - but now that it's a very real thing, I just don't want to do it. I'm tired of living like a nomad, moving where the work is. As my 29th birthday approaches, I want to have a town to call home, to end the succession of rented houses that have been 'home' for the past few years. I'd rather find some way to make a living where I am, than chase a career around the country, rootless and lonely.

What I'm trying to say is that your reasons for moving on are valid, whatever they are. You get to decide when you move jobs, and it's no-one else's lookout. I feel bad for looking to move on so soon myself, because I feel like I'm letting them down after they gave me a job. But me leaving in my first few months isn't going to make this huge organisation go belly-up. We need to get away from this mindset that we have to be grateful and prostrate ourselves before anyone who's willing to give us a job, just because they gave us a job. Our lives are our own.
posted by winterhill at 5:03 AM on August 1


That is my exact thought, benardbeta. I told a friend that I had been thrown in at the deep end with this job, and her response was "but that's good, it's good for learning and developing", and I absolutely agree. I feel like I have learned to swim here, and it has been absolutely great for my development. But I completely agree with you. I have not had a manager to learn from as of yet. Therefore I am treading water whilst not learning any skills to better me. My two temp jobs before this were in different industries. How can I become an effective manager if I have not learned from anybody or experienced a real successful marketing department from the inside? I fear that I would stay on here for loyalty and autonomy reasons, only to move along in 2-3 years anyway because I feel like I need to learn more.
posted by littlepeeo at 5:47 AM on August 1


Thanks winterhill, your experience is interesting to read. I totally understand people's points about not leaving just because you feel bad about doing it. But my problem is that I feel a true loyalty. People here have become my friends, and have really trusted in my suggestions in moving the department forward. I know I should look out for number one, and have said this to friends who have stayed in jobs they dislike out of fear/loyalty. If I did not like the people here, would I feel bad about leaving? Would I feel like Ive jumped ship too soon? My answer is absolutely not. Therefore career-wise, moving will be right. But it really tugs at my heartstrings to leave them in a difficult stressful situation knowing that my friends and peers will suffer. They are not a huge organization (approx 40 employees), and I feel that my job is secure, and I can predict a very difficult conversation when I come to hand in my notice.

I hope you find a job closer to home. You sound like you have your mind made up, and I wish you luck! In some ways your situation seems easier as at least you haven't forged the relationships. I feel like I am leaving at the worst time, right on the brink of a reform in my department - after lots of hard work to get it prepared and them taking my guidance. They will be back at square one when I leave and I will feel incredibly guilty. Hopefully that will pass and I will be able to retain some friendships.
posted by littlepeeo at 5:57 AM on August 1


[Hey, littlepeeo, I just want to note that Ask Metafilter isn't really a space for back and forth conversation; you can comment to clarify any misunderstandings or answer questions, but generally, it's just best to relax and let the answers come, picking and choosing whatever is useful for you.]
posted by taz at 6:14 AM on August 1


Companies optimize their efforts, up- an down-sizing as executives see fit, with little loyalty to the workers. Optimize your own experiences and work efforts. And if it helps, remember that you haven't been given the support you need. If the roles were switched and you weren't performing your job duties as you should, you would be let go and replaced.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on August 1


Stay where you are, and learn by talking to peers at other companies, going to events, etc. I think there are a few Mefites who even plan some.

There's no one way to do things, every company will do things their own way, and most digital marketing has at least some blaguery in it, from what i've observed anyway.

Processes at universities, in general, are not representative of what happens anywhere else -- more hierarchical, things take forever, they can't take risks the same way private companies can. Stifling, absolutely and not sure how much what you learn there will relate to other setups.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:46 AM on August 1


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