Should I keep my interesting lower paid job with a great mentor or apply for the promotion with better title, more money?
November 13, 2010 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Should I keep my interesting lower paid job with a great mentor or apply for the promotion with better title, more money?

I am a female marketing manager in healthcare. I work in the hottest area of our business, outpatient. My boss is a smart and savvy marketer, a 20-year veteran to the business who has been an amazing mentor to me professionally. We have multiple high priority projects lined up for 2011 that will stretch both our skills. She is much more in tune with traditional marketing and I excel at new social media strategy. We work well together.

Here is my question: I have recently completed a couple of big corporate projects and the VP of Marketing is very happy with my work. Recently a Marketing Director position that has opened up. They are taking resumes for that position now (internal and external) and I am thinking about applying for it. When two of my colleagues expressed interest they were advised not to apply but when I expressed interest the feedback was positive toward applying.

One more thing, I am going to try and start graduate school this winter for a MBA, Marketing concentration.

My gut instinct is to stay where I am as a manager, be loyal to my mentor and learn as much as I can while I work through all the projects on our plate. If I apply for the marketing director promotion and got it, I would have a much larger title, much greater salary, work 3 minutes from my house - but would I learn as much? That job is with a low-priority hospital and they do not have as many front line projects as I have now. Plus I worry that I would leave my current boss in a lurch with a lot on her plate and no time to train.

So I am putting it out to the great metafilter. What say you?
posted by washateria to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if your relationship with your boss/mentor is good enough that you could ask her what she thinks? A truly good mentor would want you to succeed; she might be able to provide insight about what your next step should be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:45 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Money's great, but for me, nothing beats a good experience doing something you really like. You say you feel challenged at your current job, and you've even got some projects to look forward too. It sounds to me like that's where you'd rather be.
posted by Gilbert at 6:47 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't underestimate the value of the years I spent under a great mentor. I didn't have your opportunity, so I can't speak to that, but what I learned has stayed with me and help me to get a nice career and become a better person.

I'd ask how long you've been with your mentor. If it's only be a year or two and you still feel like you have a lot to learn, I'd stay stick with that position. This is, of course, without really knowing anything else about the situation. But from the way I read what you've written, it I'd stick with the mentor for a while longer.

To echo from the comment above, it's worth talking about your future with your current boss/mentor. If you guys make a good team, your boss will be just as interested in keeping you around as you are. This may not translate directly to an immediate raise, but if you can figure out a long term game plan, it can make things nicer for you both.

Best of luck.
posted by StimulatingPixels at 6:53 AM on November 13, 2010

You should totally apply, if can turn the offer down later. More options is better than fewer, right? If you intend to start your MBA either way, make it clear up front that and that you anticipate that it will affect your dedication to the position in the short term.

I know lots of PhDs who make pitiful wages. At some point you need to stop investing in yourself and start exploiting those investments. If this is an either MBA or Director proposition, and you're scared that the lack of an MBA will harm your chances of promotion beyond Director, make and execute a plan like this: put a chunk of your new, much greater salary into college savings, and look into working reduced hours for an extended time a year or two from now. Or unpaid leave. It might be a good idea to discuss this before accepting the position, in fact.

And you might as well float the idea by your mentor, since they'll be a crucial contact in the new position.
posted by pwnguin at 7:06 AM on November 13, 2010

My initial reaction is that you should remain in your current role until you're done with your MBA. It seems like you're leaning that way as well. In addition to the reasons you mentioned, you'll have the support of your mentor if things get stressful managing work and school together -- if you're the director of your own org, you've just got to make it work yourself.

On the other hand, though, if one of your goals is to make enough money to retire early, or just have a more expensive lifestyle in general, it might be worthwhile to take the job now, start climbing the promotion ladder, and start saving or investing the extra money. Similar reasoning if your goal is just to be in positions of great responsibility regardless of the money.

Who gave you the feedback that you should apply for the new job? Depending on who gave you the feedback, that may have been a pretty explicit sign that the company is ready for you to leave the mentor's nest and take up more leadership yourself.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 7:06 AM on November 13, 2010

Keep the great boss/mentor. Most bosses suck and a good boss vs. a sucky boss can totally make or break how happy you are at your job, which is where you spend about half your waking life.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:29 AM on November 13, 2010

"My gut instinct is to stay where I am as a manager" -- follow your gut.
posted by jack.tinker at 7:57 AM on November 13, 2010

Money matters. Get more money.
posted by anniecat at 8:31 AM on November 13, 2010

Which job will put you on the trajectory you want? (Thinking not about this promotion, but the one after that.) If you go to a low-priority hospital, will you get stuck there in the same role forever or will you get the experience needed to move into the same role at a more exciting hospital like the one you're in now? If you stay put, will you be able to move up locally or will they expect you to go to a small-time hospital before you can move up the ladder?

My concern would be accepting a small promotion too soon when I could get a better promotion (interest-wise if not money-wise) if I bide my time and build my resume first.
posted by parkerjackson at 9:25 AM on November 13, 2010

I say apply for the job. Applying for it doesn't mean you'll be offered it, and even if offered it, it doesn't mean you have to accept it. You'll probably learn a lot along the way.

Also, can't your mentor still be your mentor even if you move on? It's not disloyal to look for a new position and move up--it will reflect well on your boss and is part of the natural order of workplace things. Great people move on. I used to run a marketing office, and someone I hired in PR later got my job as director (after I had left the company)--I felt like it was a credit to my good hire that she got that job, actually. I was proud of her and it made me feel good about my mentoring.

You'll learn tons in this new job--different kinds of lessons, but still amazing things. Also, the salary, title, and proximity to home make it sounds like an ideal situation.

Also, regarding the MBA program: are you on the fence about doing this? Because a new job might be one path to take instead of the MBA program. If your ultimate goal is to be a director of marketing, and you now have an opportunity to be director of marketing, why not just go for it?

Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 9:55 AM on November 13, 2010

Mentoring relationships are great, but they all have to come to an end. The endings can be difficult and painful and scary. After all, the mentor enjoys having a wonderful young person they can inspire, teach and watch grow, and the mentee (is that a word?) likes the learning environment and the protection and sense of safety that comes from being in the shadow of a powerful, brilliant person.

It's a great relationship, but if you are growing, ultimately you're going to see other opportunities and want to try flying with your own wings. One way to deal with this is to talk to your mentor and let her know about the opportunity and the conflicted feelings you have about taking the step. It's a risky step, but it could be worth it. In the best of all worlds, she might cheer you on and encourage you. In the worst of all worlds, she could accuse you of betraying her and work to sabotage you. Both of these things have happened - a mentor of mine once said that all mentoring relationships end badly. That's an exaggeration, but there's no question that a lot of very primal needs and fears come into play in the mentoring relationship.
posted by jasper411 at 11:08 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agree with many responses.

What's your career trajectory in your current position, ie. When will the same type of opportunity come up? and how certain are you that you would advance? This is a question for your mentor, ---when you are offered the other job.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2010

I don't agree with those who say "apply for the job because even if you're offered it, you can always say no". That is true if you are applying for a job outside the organization. But, it sounds like a job inside your current organization. In that case, I think you're expected to do your homework early in the application process and certainly before the interview. Granted, something unusual might come up in the interview that couldn't have been discovered before hand, but how likely is that really? The amount of time and effort it takes to interview someone, especially for a director level position, means that if you decide to say no once they've been through that whole process, you are going to aggravate a lot of people.

[Speaking as someone who has been at the director (manager of managers) level for about the past 15 years in 2 large multinational high tech companies.]
posted by elmay at 1:08 AM on November 15, 2010

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