Part time with time to explore vs. full time with my former dream job
September 19, 2019 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Applied numerous times for former dream job but was always runner up. Now it looks like I have a chance again but feel like I've kind of moved on mentally from that path, or at least haven't been thinking about it for a while. At the same time, a part time job in another department has opened up which would allow me more time to retrain a bit and consider other options. Input into best option?

Job A (Former dream job)
- Applied to the same category of job within my organization (with encouragement from supervisors, colleagues, mentors) THREE times over the course of the last year and a half. Was told each time I was a top candidate. Earlier this year I was a finalist for two of these positions at around the same time, didn't get either of them, and was basically crushed.
- Now the initial position I applied for over a year ago is opening up for a period of a few months, likely to eventually turn permanent, and I've been more or less told it's mine if I want it.
- However, in the intervening months, I've kind of moved on mentally and was taking some classes and ruminating about other directions, and I don't feel like my original level of enthusiasm is there. Maybe it could be regained?
- Downsides of this job are:
- Involves a lot of travel (40%+), and I don't really feel like being gone that much from home. Have been enjoying being home after previously having traveled a lot for my current job, and become more invested in my personal pursuits.
- High stress - in addition to a lot of travel, the job is very stressful and would often entail long and irregular hours.
- What does it lead to - I'm not sure what I would do after this job logically, as I've been reconsidering my professional path a bit and feel like I'm ready for a change or at least an adjustment. There are other jobs I could try to get in my location where I'd play a similar function to this job - but the content/subject focus of those jobs is different enough that I'm not sure how transferable the skills built on this job would be. In all, not sure how much more employable I'd be after the job in question than I already am. It's not at a drastically higher level than my current position, though I guess it's more interesting.
- Upsides of the job:
- The content of the work is likely to be very interesting, more so than my current job - involves "meatier" work than my current job (ie, current job more administrative). This is what contributes to the higher stress level on the other hand though.
- Probably pays slightly better than current job (and that's even after I recently got a pretty good raise)
- It would be something a bit different than what I'm currently doing, after feeling very ready to move on for quite a while

Job B (part time gig)
- In my general career confusion the past year or two, I've at times thought about/day dreamed about quitting my current job and just taking some time off to take classes or have more time for networking or to do some short term work in my field and try to build connections locally (my current job is with an international organization that is kind of unique in my town so I don't naturally through my job make a lot of contacts that could lead to jobs outside my organization locally). I'm not in a bad financial position to do that at the moment. However, I don't think it's really a very prudent idea because I currently make a pretty ok salary and have good benefits, and don't like the idea of running through my savings to chase some vague idea of finding myself through lots of free time.
- Enter Job B, which is part time within my organization, and has benefits. The main logic in applying for Job B is that I've been taking some classes the past few months and want to do more, not yet for a degree or certificate but building some skills that I see as foundational for a shift to some more interesting work (essentially building quantitative skills and some programming/technological skills to do more data analysis or research heavy work) and would serve as pre-requisites for some certificate or degree programs I might want to pursue. Working part time would help me have more time to take classes, at the same time as maybe picking up some other short term, part time work here and there to build more local connections and skills, as well as more time to do some networking. Currently I'm taking classes online, but eventually I might want to take non online classes and a flexible schedule could be good.
- Downsides of Job B:
- obviously, it would cut my income quite a lot - in half or close to half. I think it would mean having just enough to cover rent and food essentially, so it's not really a long term solution. On the other hand, I would have time to pick up another side job or maybe some projects from other departments (something I want to ask more about in interviews) - or like I was hoping, maybe do some contract work for other organizations and build more local connections.
- The content of Job B isn't super interesting - very administrative and process focused. I think I would do well at it but would probably be a bit bored rather quickly.
- While I am taking classes, I'm not sure if I would keep taking them if I found a well/ok paid job in my current city that doesn't require travel. Basically, classes might not be necessary to get what I want ultimately, which is something new, well enough paid, stable and reasonably interesting. So the logic of taking the part time gig to spend more time taking classes is only partially valid.
- Upsides of Job B
- It would be a change from my current department which feels long overdue
- Free up time to explore local employment options, which seem more viable to me in the long-term (as opposed to Job A, which I'm not sure where it leads) but which I haven't really succeeded in doing the past year or two while working full time
- Keep my benefits and some basic income while I figure things out
- Job title sounds slightly better than my current title, even if I'm not sure that this position is really more senior

In addition to Job A and Job B, I've thought of:
Option C: Take the short term gig that Job A currently is/will start out as while continuing to look for another job completely (likely travel for Job A might get in the way of this?)
Option D: Don't take either job, stay in my current job and continue looking for other options.

I think the ideal ultimate outcome is that I find some sort of professional option locally with a different organization that I find interesting and where there is room for growth. The main thing that is lacking for me currently is that I don't really feel like I'm growing anymore as I've been in my current job a pretty long time and am ready for a change but feel a bit stuck because there's not an obvious next step (largely because the industry that I'm in is centered elsewhere but I don't want to move, and I also don't want to travel that much) that pays as well as my current job and/or seems interesting to me.

Given all the above, what would you recommend, Internet Strangers? Advice based on past experience of transitioning out of a job you've been at a bit too long or at a point where you feel ready for a shift in your career is particularly welcome. I intend to apply for both jobs and think I have a decent shot at Job B and an almost certain shot at Job A. I am applying for other jobs outside my organization when I see them but at the moment nothing I'm interviewing for. Thanks in advance!
posted by knownfossils to Work & Money (2 answers total)
Pursue, and hopefully accept, Job A and keep looking/planning for what's next from within Job A, with more financial security. No job is forever. It's OK if you decide to leave in 6 months.

I was all "don't take Job A" until I read about Job B. Job B is not as good an option. Especially this:

I think it would mean having just enough to cover rent and food essentially, so it's not really a long term solution.

You're talking about "stress" as a downside to Job A, but you may be underestimating how insanely stressful it is to live on a financial knife edge and make sacrifices constantly to make do while fearing an expensive incident in the future. And I don't know if you've ever held a side job, but that's another source of stress, as you have to be vigilant about schedule management and dealing with the occasional conflict, and taking time off from both at the same time should you need to attend classes, travel or accept a job interview in another place is usually difficult. And you mention that you'd want to take classes, or otherwise get skilled up - with the income level Job B will give you, you won't be able to afford much in the way of education, training, workshops, etc.

The travel for Job A is one interesting aspect of it, too. You indicate you're sort of professionally isolated where you are. Travel time gives you a couple things - some work time away from the office which you can use to research new paths, draw up career plans, get to know the landscape, network online a little. And it also presumably puts you into other places where you can write ahead and make some contacts for informational interviewing in adjacent fields or fields of interest. Though you see the travel now as a negative, it could actually become part of your career transition plan.

Here's some real talk: you don't have go down to part time work in order to explore other opportunities. Untold millions of people have investigated, trained up for, and moved into a new career path while also working full time jobs (and in some cases more than one job, and quite often while getting a degree and taking classes, and in some cases doing caregiving as well). So you don't need a part time job to have the time to do a career transition. You just get yourself started. Meanwhile, if you have a legitimate opportunity to move up, you will have (a) more financial security (b) more interesting work (c) a better resume history of progressive responsibility which will make eventual hire more likely.

Pursue Job A. Almost no downside.
posted by Miko at 4:48 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Option C (which is pursue Option A but treat it as a short term choice) is really the way to go. Do not go part time in hopes that more free time will help you sort things out, unless you know exactly what that will entail. Free time is great when you know what you want to do with it, and if you needed time to take classes toward a specific degree or position I might answer differently. But your plans for the extra time sound too vague, and the job sounds too unfulfilling in itself.

Take the job you were interested in with the expectation that it'll be fairly short term and keep pursuing your other plans with your free time. You'll either love it and want to stay, or you'll realize it's not for you and be better positioned for whatever's next. You're in a rut, and this is exactly the way to get out of it.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:11 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

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