Torn about offer
April 8, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Should I take the job? I have been temping for 2 years and have been offered a permanent job... with conditions that I don't think I can meet. Wise Mefites, any help much appreciated.

I am in my mid twenties and my background is creative, but I wasn't able to get a job I desired as they are few and far between. I have been temping at a nonprofit for two years and have been moving up the ranks. They have enough in the budget to hire me full time, with 401k, insurance, paid vacations, etc.

However, because of my creative degree, HR didn't approve all of my college education for the experience qualifiers of the application. But, when a candidate shows potential, they will allow an underqualified candidate to take the job, with the stipulation that I must successfully complete 24 college credits in one year's time while working full time, and the courses should include subjects that are relevant to the job.

My dilemma comes from:

1. Feeling like the job isn't something I want for the long term. I am so thankful to have the offer, and I have learned valuable things and enjoyed working here. But I don't feel like I really fit in the environment at work, because of my creative interests and my age, but I get along very well with everyone.

2. As this isn't a franchise nor has multiple branches that I could transfer to, if I were to take the job, I would be tied to my location. I live with my parents, and I just don't fit in here. I couldn't get my dream job yet, but since my family isn't wealthy, I ought to be practical and independent and change careers to leave, which itself was a hard realization for me because I wanted a creative job. I want to move to a nice city for the long term, and where I live now isn't "the ghetto," but it gets worse every year and I don't always feel safe.

3. After all the work that HR and my bosses have put into accepting me to this point, I would feel dishonest if I were to take the job and then leave within the year. My bosses know that I am seriously thinking of going into the medical field, and I figure that if I want to study that, I should start as soon as possible. My parents can support me with that and I have saved money and can take loans just in case, since it will be for a job with high demand.

I figure, at this juncture, it would be ideal to leave now and study full time to knock out those prereqs rather than courses just to fulfill the job offer. I have very close relationships with my bosses, though, whom I respect and admire, and they are mentors to me. Which brings me to the other part of my dilemma:

4. I really value the bonds I have with my bosses. I feel sad at the thought of leaving. My boss said he would be sad to give the job to someone else, but he said he will be prepared to find someone should I leave. My other boss said he understands if I choose to go to school full-time, as taking the job means I want to stay at the company and get a degree in a field I wasn't wanting to or thinking of pursuing, and he sees the pros of the new career change.

5. Given the economy, and how hard I've worked to get up to this position (it is not an entry level position, but not upper management either, but is a stable, solid job), I'm afraid it would feel like I would be throwing away my hard work and these benefits. But, I remember the stipulation of 24 credit hours, and I dont think I could take 3 classes a semester while working full time (although there are some out there who are able to do this, which I respect), because of balancing time for homework, work and commuting, and the job has so many duties that I don't have much free time like a lower level job. I feel like I would be too stressed out for a job that I don't think is right for me in the long term, despite how wonderfully supportive my bosses are. And although I would be leaving, it would be for the medical field, which will provide me with those same benefits and more stability and job demand, albeit after school.

6. I was recommended by my friend (who works there) to my boss when I applied via temping, and I wouldn't want to give them the appearance of ingratitude at leaving the job. Sometimes I was stressed out, and they convinced me to stay.

So, that is my dilemma. Do I take the job, or make a change? If I make a change, how do I deal with leaving my bosses and this offer? My gut is telling me to think about the long term and do what's right- going to school full time ASAP for a practical degree where I can live where I choose. But my heart is telling me, "It's going to be sad when I leave these great bosses, and is it right to turn down an offer?" But I shouldn't stay just to please someone, right? Dear Mefites, please share your wisdom and experience with me. Thanks for any advice. 
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're right in thinking that 24 credits in a year on top of work in a job you're not all that into is gonna be crazy making. Sounds like a great time to make a change!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:52 PM on April 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

Your gut is right, and your heart is being a sentimental fool, as hearts tend to. It's normal to feel loyalty towards people who have helped us, but two years is a good record of service and you've paid your debts to them, and I'm sure your friends and mentors would want you to be loyal to yourself first and foremost. If staying is only going to delay your next step rather than offer you growth in the direction you want, then you should not stay.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

When my brother was having a hard time choosing between two job offers--one he really wanted, and one that was a better, more prestigious offer he felt he should take--what I told him was: you don't get the job you want by taking the job you don't want.

This job isn't in the field you long to work in, and it's going to take a huge about of effort to get to keep it. You know the answer to your question; you answer it yourself, really. Don't feel so sad about leaving your bosses. You can do it in a way that is professional and ends the working relationship on a good note.
posted by looli at 1:57 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

honestly, in a world where guys like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg can drop out of college and start billion-dollar companies, a NON-PROFIT with an HR filter like this sounds ridiculous, especially so, since it sounds small.

I would encourage you to explore other opportunities and broaden your horizons. Now's the perfect time to make a change!
posted by unexpected at 2:01 PM on April 8, 2012 [14 favorites]

Are they paying for the education? Because if so, finishing your degree on someone else's dime is not something to completely discount.

If they expect you to pay for it yourself, of course, that's stupid and you should feel no qualms about looking elsewhere.
posted by winna at 2:18 PM on April 8, 2012 [12 favorites]

honestly, in a world where guys like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg can drop out of college and start billion-dollar companies, a NON-PROFIT with an HR filter like this sounds ridiculous, especially so, since it sounds small.

That is exactly what I was thinking. I'm not even sure how they can expect you to do that many courses in a year and work full-time since you don't exactly have complete say over what time you take the classes.

It just seems like a ridiculous request unless they wanted you to take specific courses for a specific purpose like accounting or something. Telling you they can't accept your degree and that you just need to go "take 24 hours of coursework" seems ridiculous. Obviously they think you are capable of doing the work since they offered to hire you, so what is the justification for this seemingly arbitrary request?
posted by fromageball at 2:27 PM on April 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

Regarding #6: When I was young I used to feel terrible guilt about leaving jobs. I would give 4 weeks notice and only realized later how silly this was and how nice the managers were not to say "You know you copy stuff at Kinko's, right? We might be able to find someone else." Not to say your job isn't important or that you don't do a good job, but why do you think you owe these people? Your boss is prepared to find someone should I leave. Keep him/her in your contacts and move on to something you're enthusiastic about.

As for taking 24 college credits in a year (odd condition) for a job you don't want in a field you're not interested in, no. No. No.
posted by sfkiddo at 2:30 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

As for taking 24 college credits in a year (odd condition) for a job you don't want in a field you're not interested in, no. No. No.

Maybe this is some kind of grant requirement? Even doesn't sound like a good bargain. I would keep making your other plans that don't involve this job in the long-term and move towards making those plans a reality.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:41 PM on April 8, 2012

Take the job, don't enroll in the classes, look for another job and if you don't find one, see what HR does in a year when you have not gotten 24 credits.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

I dont think I could take 3 classes a semester while working full time (although there are some out there who are able to do this, which I respect)

This is not normal. Most people taking classes at night while working full time take 2 classes/term, while taking 3 in a term is considered an exception or one-time event to finish up.

Your best bet, I think, is to parlay your experience at this job into a position elsewhere that is more respectful of your skills and a more pleasant location for youto work in.
posted by deanc at 3:12 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

24 credits a semester is a full-time job. You are being asked to work an 80-hour workweek.

If you're thinking it will be possible to half-ass the credits to get the minimum passing grade, let me warn you that it's a dangerous line to walk. One miscalculation, one week of getting sick that puts you behind, or one big homework assignment where you misread the instructions and botch it badly, and you fail the course. I've seen this happen many, many times.

I personally don't think this is a reasonable request from your employer.
posted by BrashTech at 3:13 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gah, sorry, I realize it was 24 credits a year. And I was calculating 12 credits over two semesters... Even if you take some of it over the semester, I still think it's too much on top of a full-time job.
posted by BrashTech at 3:15 PM on April 8, 2012

Your boss is telling you that s/he isn't willing to fight for you to stay. When they say "Well, we'll miss you if you go, but we'll find someone else," they're taking a neutral stance. I'm sure they sincerely value your work and really will miss you on a personal level, but as bosses they've seen a lot of people come and go and your leaving is something they likely expect.

No one expects you to show intense loyalty for a temp job. That's the whole point of temp jobs.

And your friend did you a favor by helping you find the job - which you did successfully for 2 years. It doesn't look badly for her for you to leave, still on good terms with the company, after 2 years of good work. She should not resent that.

So items 4 and 6 should be removed from your list. Where does that leave you?

One other option is to go to HR and say "I really appreciate the offer, but I don't think I can do justice to my work here and also earn 24 credit hours within a year. Is there any room for discussion here?" But that's only if you can see yourself staying there for another couple of years, and it doesn't sound like you can.
posted by bunderful at 3:23 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask if there's any wiggle room on the course load. Take the job in any case. Start looking for another job. It's easier to look with a permanent job and better title and it's easy to explain why you're looking.

Also, look into distance education programs. Will any of them let you do one-week compressed courses? My university sometimes let people do a course every day for a week and you just wrote the test at the end. This was very good for people who already knew a subject - so maybe somethng you already know. Also, you could do Directed Studies - and simply do projects related to your work. Directed Studies was worth at least 9 credits a semester when I was in university. And some courses for certain programs are 4 credits a semester instead of 3.

You could also look around for a university on an odd credit system, where you're getting more credits than you would at a usual program - this is sort of gaming things.

Alternatively, sign up and don't complete in a timely manner. It's entirely possible the university won't let you sign up for so many classes. You could creatively make sure to find an advisor who refuses to let you sign up for so many at once.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:24 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can you counter that you'll take the job without the extra coursework? The offer as presented is ridiculous.
posted by robinpME at 4:49 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is an absurd offer, unless they are willing to pay for it. Even if they are, it is very unlikely you would be able to fit that course load in with your work schedule. Is there any flexibility at all? If not, look elsewhere.
posted by Think_Long at 4:56 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are they paying for it? Do you have down time at work where they would allow you to do course work? Don't discount what they're offering you... if they're offering to pay to finish another degree (and 24 credit hours should be enough, look in YOUR course catalog, not the current one. The year of your admission is the year that you have to satisfy requirements for, that's been my experience) and they're offering you a flexible schedule and/or the ability to complete coursework at... well... work. That's huge. In a year you could have a second degree, money in your pocket, and more work experience.
posted by one4themoment at 5:52 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's pretty clear that you don't want to take this job, and I think you articulate very valid reasons for passing on it. You mentioned a friend initially recommended you for the position, and while I understand why you don't want to reflect poorly on him/her or have him/her think ill of you, it was two whole years ago, and clearly you have done well enough that the company wants to employ you full-time. You have established yourself separate from your friend's recommendation and, in terms of this, you owe him/her nothing. A real friend will understand that you need to move on to live the life you really want. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:24 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you'll feel incredibly resentful at wasting not only job time, but tons of extra time going to school, for a job that you don't really wish to continue.

Think of it as a gift. You're not failing at making this job work. You're making a new decision based on new information.

The answer to "I want less of this kind of job/life, and more of another kind of job/life" isn't "let's triple-down in this job with no exit strategy." It just isn't the answer to the question you are asking.

It does seem like this anxiety might also be manifesting because you're not quite sure what to do otherwise. At times you mention your creativity and then you drop the notion of getting into the medical field.

You're so young. Don't give up yet.

Instead of taking this new job, what about keeping the job you have for 6 more months, and spending all of that extra time you would have spent going to school, doing what you really really want to do, something that will help you make that your life. Maybe that means getting a kick-ass portfolio together. Maybe it means doing 30 informational interviews. Maybe it means taking a class related to the field you like. Then reassess.
posted by barnone at 9:51 PM on April 8, 2012

If they are willing to pay for the schoolwork, then it is actually a pretty generous compliment - " you are not qualified, but we think highly enough of you to help you become qualified." if they want you to pay for it, I'd be "meh" - unless I could structure things so that those courses would help you later.
posted by eriko at 1:25 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would not take the job for this reason: They have been working you as a temp, I assume with no access to their group insurance plan, ability to pay into your retirement with 401k, and no promises of the future (such as they are even with perm employment) for two years. In that time, you've not only been good enough for the job, you've been "moving up the ranks." But to have access to the group insurance plan and a little promise of the future, they place a tremendous requirement on you -- one that you may very well fail at -- because it's required? Where were their stringent entrance requirements for the past two years? Further, they are now willing to lose a great worker with not only lots of potential but a proven track record and valuable experience, over the type of degree you got? And they would put you in a take-it-or-leave-it position, not even allowing you to continue to temp for them, but either take on something so difficult (and damaging to your ability to continue to perform well for them) or leave?

Their HR sounds seriously screwed up.
posted by Houstonian at 4:42 AM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

You've really answered your own question.

If they're paying for the 24 credits per year, which it seems they can't afford to do, you might have something to consider. But even then, 12 credits a semester is 3 or 4 classes, depending on how many credits per class -- that's enough to qualify as a full-time student at most colleges.

You're being asked to be a full-time student AND hold down a full-time job (think 80 hours a week between 40 hours at work, and another 40 hours split between classes, homework, tests, et cetera). On top of this, it's at a non-profit in a field you're not interested in, in a place where you don't like living. I had enough of a hard time taking ONE college class while holding down a 40-hour-a-week job. I could not have done three or four classes.

Sounds like quitting the job and going to school full-time for a field you enjoy is the more prudent option here. It's a temp job, no one is going to fault you for leaving. You'll probably be able to use your boss as a reference in the future, too, as long as you're truthful with him, which it sounds like you have been already.
posted by tckma at 11:23 AM on April 9, 2012

You have been temping and doing good work. You have been getting seriously underpaid. Stop worrying about your employer. They can, and may, drop you like a hot potato. They have been getting your skill on the cheap for 2 years. Put in a good days' work, be honest and fair, but don't fret about taking care of an employer.

Tell them the requirements are unacceptable. 24 credit hours is a lot. As mentioned, it's only worth considering if they're paying, otherwise, it's a flat-out No.

You need a plan to get from where you are, which is a fine place to be, but not what you want, and where you want to be. If doing this job for a year will move you forward, great, but, if not, work on your goals.
posted by theora55 at 4:15 PM on April 9, 2012

From the OP:
Thanks, everyone, for your advice. All of the responses have been very helpful. I talked to HR today, and they said that I would have to pay for the classes myself. I think I know what I need to do. And thanks to barnone for helping me to remember to keep up with my passions. Thanks, everyone. Take care.
posted by mathowie at 4:54 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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