Should this Catastrophically Career-Confused Canadian accept the Bank Teller job offer or keep applying for something career-oriented?
October 1, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble deciding on whether I should accept a job offer. I've been unemployed since about the middle of May of this year. I have a Bachelors degree in Business and am currently taking the CMA Accelerated Program, as my medium-term goal is to become an Accountant. I've had a couple of uninteresting jobs since graduation. My most recent job was as an English teacher(ish) for nine months in Quebec. I had a blast while I was there, but it's time to get my career on track before it careens off a cliff (if it's not already too late).

I applied for a bank teller position here in Canada after some prodding from a pseudo-recruitment agency, which lists entry level college graduate oriented temporary positions, mixed in with a few lower level positions. I had politely brushed off their suggestion of applying to the bank previously, but they persisted, even going as far as writing a cover letter and reworking my resume. Well, the bank ended up calling me in, interviewing me, and have extended a conditional job offer for a six month contract. The pay is about $1900 a month (rounded up to the nearest thousand), with no benefits.

The person I interviewed with told me that there were opportunities for advancement. However, the person who actually called to extend the offer told me that I would have many opportunities to network with other branches in my community (which is not Toronto or Montreal) in order to try to find a job with the bank when the contract ended. The unspoken implication appears to be that it's 'local branch or nothing' - no ladder climbing.

In addition, I did some research. And preliminary research *seems* to show that bank branches offer almost no career advancement. It appears that people get stuck in branches forever, and almost all of the 'sexy' corporate jobs are filled by external candidates. I have an acquaintance who has the same position with a different bank as the person who interviewed me, and I'm going to have an information interview with them soon to get their perspective, but I believe they may be biased.

PS I wouldn't be opposed to even a low-level accounting job such as accounting clerk, as it would at least be in my 'field', I'm not too proud.

(I was also wondering if I've removed myself from eligibility for Employment Insurance? E.I. helps during this tough time in a big way, but losing it wouldn't be catastrophic. But I can't just call them up and ask a 'hypothetical', they ask for name and S.I.N. and no doubt are trained to translate the word 'hypothetical' into the word 'actual' when fielding questions... )
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Considering the length of time you've been unemployed, and that you are now offered a job making $1900 a month, I think this is a no brainer.

People only get stuck in branches forever if they choose that for their lives. Just because you have a job does not mean you should not continue to search for your dream job. But the most important thing right now is to make sure you earn some income.

I've always found in my life that jobs beget jobs. It's like tapping into some unseen energy. Once you have a job, it is always easier to find another.
posted by corn_bread at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2011 [7 favorites]

Take the job, and keep looking for a more desirable one. Applicants who already have jobs are more desirable than applicants who are unemployed. Save the deliberation, research, etc. for when you have two offers in your field and need to pick one.
posted by orangejenny at 7:23 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree that this sounds like a no-brainer. If you don't like it any more or find that there's no way to advance, you can quit. Plus having a job will give you confidence that will help when you apply for other jobs. You haven't really spelled out any reasons why taking this position would be a bad idea so I think you should go for it.
posted by kat518 at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2011

You know you will be doing mundane stuff in entry level accountancy jobs, too, right? We make our first years (all graduates) add up stuff, agree stuff back and forth, manipulate a load of data, file stuff, go through every single one of hundreds of electronic documents in our electronic files to check that there are no tracked changes and no review comments from the reviewers left in the files before we archive them, they have to photocopy stuff, go to the shop and get provisions for the whole team, organise for files and equipment to be shipped to the client etc.

So you may as well become a bank teller for the next six months and make a concerted effort to find an entry level accountancy job at the same time. If you happen to find that position before your contract is up you just hand in your notice.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:20 AM on October 1, 2011

It sounds like you're still advancing your schooling--in which case I would take the job, regardless of its lack of career advancement potential. Your completion of the program will be a natural point to move on; your enrollment is a good explanation of why you'd have taken the job. Even if you're not still in school, there are pretty basic ways to bridge from an ill-fitting job to a career-fitting job--even if they are time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. It's not necessarily a bad idea to take an ill-fitting job when you need work history and need income.

I don't really know much about the accounting profession, but most professions rely to an extent upon the buddy-system. So you need work history to meet people and gain a professional reputation. A lot of unemployed or under-employed young attorneys that I know were eventually able to get into career positions by taking a job with no advancement opportunity, sometimes only nominally in the field, and meeting people

Some had to network by finding time to donate their professional services at a reputable/charitable institution. The pro bono work was where they built the advancement network that traditionally came from your day job. You can look upon your CMA program in the same way as the pro bono work: the place to build your professional advancement network while you work a minimally-relevant job. Don't rely on just classmates, professors and career services for the network, though. Ask them if they can introduce you to professionals to talk to for "informational interviews". Then ask the professionals what their career paths were. What they see as logical career paths now. Ask if they know good ways you can learn or demonstrate professional skills through volunteer work or professional societies. Ask them if they'd be willing to hold on to your resume or put you in touch with hiring managers, should they learn of relevant positions when you're ready.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2011

I think you should take it. Yeah, it's only $11/hour (assuming full time hours), but it's always easier to a job when you already have one. Take it knowing you will utilize every single opportunity to network your butt off, and you never know where it might lead you. Taking this job and continuing to apply to something else more in your field are not mutually exclusive.
posted by cgg at 8:57 AM on October 1, 2011

Take it. Money coming in always trumps no money coming in.

It's not forever.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

The answer to the question in your title is "do both".
posted by jrochest at 10:21 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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