Quit my job, sha na na na na na?
March 21, 2013 5:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm a grad student (in the humanities) getting over mono. Should I quit my job?

I have a job similar to an assistantship in a department unrelated to what I'm studying. It takes up 10-15 hours of my life a week. Between my own coursework, my teaching, and the job in question, I literally do not have the energy to do everything that needs to get done in my life. I've noticed my work performance suffering from this, and I'm often finishing assignments at the last minute not for lack of time management skills, but for lack of times when I have the energy to work on it. Finances aren't a huge issue at this point; if I needed to, I could make things work without the income this job provides (around $400/month).

But here's the catch: because I've had this job since October and had a lot of relevant knowledge coming in, it would be really tough to replace me (especially at this point in the semester) without creating a lot of work for me and the person whom I'm assisting. He is really busy with work-related responsibilities and we're hitting the point in the semester where things aren't going to slow down at all. I don't want to fuck him over, nor do I want to fuck the department over, which quitting my job would honestly do. I also have a good rapport with him and would like to keep up that rapport; I'm concerned that this would burn bridges, especially because I'm solidly in the recovery period of mono and have been for several weeks.

I want to quit my job because I feel like it would let me devote more time to and have more energy for my schoolwork and teaching. But I don't want to leave everyone in the lurch, which, honestly, I would be doing if I quit my job. Temporarily reducing my responsibilities isn't really an option either because everything that I'm doing, I'm doing because he doesn't have time for it but it needs to get done. And my energy level is slowly heading generally upwards, but I also am still dealing with occasional days when I have to sleep for sixteen straight hours to feel like I can do anything but sleep.

So, denizens of MetaFilter, what do I do? Should I quit my job? I don't mind the work (parts of it I even like), the issue at hand is really just the amount of time and energy I have in my life and the way things are working out at this point.
posted by naturalog to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bring someone else on. Stay for a couple of weeks while you help them ramp up. You had a major illness -- tell your guy that due to health issues, you're unable to continue, but you have a plan for transitioning to someone else to make it as painless as possible for him.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:08 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by liketitanic at 5:08 PM on March 21, 2013

You're not irreplaceable. Nobody is. Don't affect your health. Quit.
posted by xingcat at 5:13 PM on March 21, 2013

Quit. Your first priority is not the person you assist. He'll get over it.
posted by sm1tten at 5:21 PM on March 21, 2013

Talk to the person you're assisting., explain the situation, and tell him you have to take care of your health and reduce your hours, take a leave, or quit entirely. No matter how busy this person is, your priority is your health and your education.
posted by theora55 at 5:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it will truly screw your department over then I would tough it out.... I assume you need good references from these people... Then quit next time you have a convenient opportunity. You're making less than minimum wage by the sound of things!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:47 PM on March 21, 2013

Oh, crikey, when I had "a mono-like virus" in college, the medical advice I got was "take it easy." I went home at the end of the semester, maybe 6 or 8 weeks after the diagnosis, and worked my non-strenuous full-time day job over the summer. I wish the advice had been "stay home for the summer and get well." It was, literally, two years before I felt completely better. Short answer: quit.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 6:18 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming that the person you're assisting is also an academic and is farther up in the hierarchy than you?

They've probably been there. Nearly everyone in academia has hit this wall in one way or another. Unless there's a pressing reason you can't talk to them, talk to them. Explain the situation - ideally give them as much notice as you can, and the offer to help bring a replacement up to speed if you're trying to be a mensch. Importantly, be FIRM that you need to leave, and you're leaving. Do NOT approach it as asking them about leaving, or asking for advice about leaving. If you're providing an important service, asking gives the person a loophole to be incredibly persuasive to try and get you to stay. Even if they're a nice human being, they'll still want to try, because good help is hard to find and/or train.

If you need to finesse the details, or are uncomfortable with confrontation, pin it specifically on residual effects of being ill, or the need to remain in good standing with your primary advisor and dept. (It sounds like both of those are true). No decent academic should feel okay with compromising someone else's degree. If they do, they don't deserve your consideration or thoughtfulness either. Good luck!
posted by synapse at 7:04 PM on March 21, 2013

Just wanted to echo what orange (sherbert) rabbit said. As someone who worked way too hard with mono and made myself way sicker, I highly recommend quitting or finding another way to take leave. It sucks to let people down but if they are reasonable they will understand that you are sick and your first priority is getting healthy.
posted by JuliaKM at 7:28 PM on March 21, 2013

I have had student workers who left because of illness and you know, regardless of how hard to was to train someone new... Their health and academic career were way more important. Would it be possible to taper off at all as a transition?
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:05 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is exactly the conversation you should have with the person you work for.
posted by desuetude at 10:41 PM on March 21, 2013

Cut way down to 5 hours a week, and use those hours to train your replacement. It shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks. Surely there are plenty of other grad students around who would be happy with this job.
posted by mareli at 6:13 AM on March 22, 2013

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