Abandon my job for future prospects?
April 20, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Abandon my job for future prospects?

I'm having troubling processing what I should do. I was recently offered a promotion (the day before yesterday) at my fun college job. The promotion will take effect at the beginning of the fall semester but I'm working some hours during the summer, at most somewhere around 10 or so.

This is all excellent but the summer job I really want just got posted. One of my profs is offering a summer research position closely related to the field I intend to apply for graduate school. I've been telling myself to ask him about positions all semester but never got around to it (and the one time I did he wasn't in for office hours). I'm friends with one of his graduate students who also mentioned he would be posting the positions around this time. This is complicated by the fact that it starts in mid-June and likely continues up to a week before school starts when I would need to start organizing training sessions for new hires at the other job.

The wrinkle comes in that I'm applying for grad school in the fall. I have been doing research with a professor in a field (biochem, other prof is evolutionary ecology) I enjoy. However, I think the experience and recommendation letter would be invaluable.

I have a meeting with my boss tomorrow to discuss the promotion position. To summarize:
1) Should I apply for the position with the prof? (just asking this makes me realize how far ahead of myself I got...)
2) Do I tell my boss about this possible conflict (I'd ideally like to keep this job)?
3) Is one recommendation letter going to have that much influence? Currently I have one strong, one meh, and one who-is-that-again (along with a middling GPA).

Sorry for the wall of rambling text. I just woke up and this is bothering me more than it should as I'm fortunate either way. I'll follow up through mathowie or jessamyn if there are any questions or clarifications needed.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) Apply for the position
2) Don't tell your boss. Take the promotion. Deal with the future when it comes, if it comes.
3) It could, depending on who it is coming from.
posted by rich at 9:38 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. Apply.
2. Don't tell your boss until you get the other job.
3. Having 2 strong, 1 meh is much, much better than 1 strong, 1 meh, 1 yeah this person exists.
posted by jeather at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2011

I am a tad bit confused.

Will the summer research position really interfere with the fun college job over the summer? Are you allowed to only work a certain number of hours on campus, and will this summer research position put you over the max hours (ask how it is funded and how it will affect your work study/financial aid dollars...it might not)? If not, can you realistically do both jobs (or are you taking summer classes, etc)?

If the summer research position ends before the Fall semester begins, I don't see why you can't keep both jobs. I work at a University, and that happens with our student employees a lot. My department has restricted summer hours for student employees, so some of them take on a summer position elsewhere on campus then come back to us for the fall.

All things aside, I think you should apply for the research position. You don't have to inform your current supervisor you applied, but you might want to consider telling him/her if you interview. Your supervisor will understand if this is a position that will greatly enhance your grad school applications and probably won't give you a hard time about it. However, if the schedule or the hours conflict they might have to let you go, but it shouldn't be with hard feelings. We hate seeing our good student employees go, but if they get a job that will help them with their career we definitely want them to take it. Bottom line...you won't know if you don't apply and ask questions, so apply!
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:48 AM on April 20, 2011

FunSummerJob is very likely well-equipped to handle turnover. Good for you not wanting to leave FunSummerJob in the lurch, but I bet they can handle it.

Play the long game, and listen to the advice above.
posted by GPF at 10:09 AM on April 20, 2011

Update for friend:

"It's a field position located a couple hundred miles from the other job, sorry for not making that more clear. Thanks for the advice so far, with other posts like this it seems so cut and dry but it when something happens close to home it helps to get a different perspective. The other complicating factor is the other job isn't so much a summer job as a part--time job, so I may be giving that up during my remaining two semesters. "
posted by EsotericAlgorithm at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2011

What? FunSummerJob is fun, gives you money, and passes the time, but when push comes to shove, doing work relevant to your future graduate studies is the most important thing.

Look, I enjoyed working "desk" at my old dorm. It was fun. But the first thing I was going to do was quit and take a more relevant job when it came up.

Is one recommendation letter going to have that much influence?

The recommendation combined with the experience will differentiate you from the other applicants.

If I had to point to the one thing that helped me out in my graduate school experience, it was the fact that I got research jobs working for professors. Heck, just the key words on my resume that showed that I had experience in a certain research field got me admitted to a grad program working with a good mentor when I did my first M.S.
posted by deanc at 10:19 AM on April 20, 2011

Oh, I was going to stay out of this, but there are many reasons why I would do this if I were in your shoes, and it applies to beyond just now (please note that I am making the assumption that this is a summer position and you can do research the following 2 semesters):

• You will have training in additional research techniques, which may make you more desirable to some PIs;

• You have the opportunity to do a pressure-free (or reduced pressure) rotations in labs (the lab you are working now and this one if you get it) – when you get to grad school, you may or may not be permitted to do rotations depending on your funding, so exposure to other techniques and fields may be helpful/you can decide now where your interests are;

• Depending on your PI and length of the experiment, you can get your name on publications, write an abstract and present a poster, etc. (ask the new PI about the track record of other undergrads – some are committed to this, some are not);

• You will have the chance to get a closer look at the research you are interested in (it doesn’t stop at doing experiments, by the way – are their journal clubs run by this PI? Grad students in the lab? Etc.);

• What if you don’t get into grad school as soon as you graduate? If not, working in a lab can help you for another year or two until you get in – but at least with the training and experience, you will have more of a chance/more options.

I’m just going to nth the above suggestions. Don’t tell your boss right now. Apply and see what happens. These are part-time jobs-- you are not committed to anyone right now, especially for a job (and a part-time job).

A letter by someone in the field can really help you. To be honest, this PI could decide he or she wants you in his or her lab (and offer funding); they may have connections at other universities, etc. Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2011

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