Should I stay or should I go
February 19, 2021 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Three months into a new job and it's not a great fit. Trying to decide what to do next.

So, around 3 months ago I started a remote-due-to-covid role at a small nonprofit as a "program coordinator" and I am finding that it's not feeling like such a great fit.

For context, the role is in an organization that deals with primary care, which I do not have a background in. I came to the role with a background in education and community programs. I am around ten years into my post-college career, and for the last six years have worked in nonprofit positions where I held the titles "program coordinator" and "project manager" and was the primary person working on 1-2 programs. I had a fair degree of autonomy and say over my workflow and the projects I was working on. While I did all of the grunt work and ultimately didn't have full control of my work, I also had plenty of opportunity to guide the planning, leeway to develop relationships with partner organizations, and a lot of control over process.

This job has turned out to be a lot of admin without ownership or autonomy. I am split across 4 different projects (and therefore supervised by 4-5 different people, all with different expectations), and I have very little ownership over my work at three months in. I set up a lot of meetings, send out a lot of agendas, fetch a lot of files, and create a lot of documents for other people to review. It's not that I didn't do these things in previous jobs, but I was a lot more self directed and the volume of admin work was less-- I am organized, but I'm not actually all that detail-oriented in this way and being expected to keep track of the minutiae of multiple projects stresses me out. I wouldn't have accepted the position if I knew this was a big part of it.

It is frustrating because while I don't have experience with primary care per se and don't have content expertise, I am experienced with the types of projects I'm providing admin support for: creating trainings, coordinating learning collaboratives, releasing RFPs, visualizing data and facilitating conversations around data, etc. That's why I applied for the job! The job description asked for 5-7 years of project experience (and a master's degree ideally.) But I feel like people talk to me like I am brand new to work. Everyone is very nice and very positive about my work so far, but actually too much so-- I get thanks and pats on the head for every little thing.

I don't think I'm making a ton of mistakes or my work is not good, and no one has said that to me. Almost everyone, even the others with my job title, are at least 25 years older than me, so I think that may be part of it. I think not having a graduate degree may be part of it. It's also been hard starting remotely, and I feel like people don't have a good sense of me yet. Finally, I was allegedly hired to take over a colleague's position as she moved into a new role. If this happened, I think I would have more ownership over the work, but my colleague has been very reluctant to relinquish control, even though she is constantly singing my praises (and seems to genuinely be a nice and professional person, albeit not the strongest colleague-manager or onboarder).

Things I have tried so far: pushing on my colleague to give me more of her projects, both in a joking way and an earnest way. Taking initiative day to day and proactively bringing up tasks and projects. Setting up check in meetings with people on different projects. Being the most tech-savvy person on staff.

Things I have not tried: having a serious conversation with my manager. The org doesn't have a traditional management structure, my manager 'on paper' is the Exec Director but I don't have too much to do with her. I have considered taking these concerns to her, but I really don't want to sour our relationship-- I'm happy to have a job at all in 2021.

At this point, I'm tying to decide whether I want to start looking for other jobs-- I'm frustrated and I'm bored. I know it's a bad time to job hunt. I dropped out of the final interview rounds of two other positions to take this job and I wish I hadn't.

On the positive side, I do feel like I'm learning more about the healthcare field, which was part of why I was interested in the position to begin with (I had been considering getting an MPH and wanted to get more experience in healthcare first to see if I liked it). Part of me thinks that I should stick it out a little longer for that reason.

It seems like my choices are the following or a combo thereof and I'd appreciate any thoughts on what might make sense:
-chill out, give it time, try to demonstrate via my dazzling excellence that I am capable of more autonomy and/or other work within the org
-start looking for a new job
-lean on my colleague and/or on management to give me different projects
posted by ambulanceambiance to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should have a discussion with your manager about the situation—sounds like once your colleague is able to let go of the projects to you entirely, you’ll be happier with the nature of the job. So to me, it doesn’t seem like a hopeless, bail-right-now type situation. The best thing to do would be to communicate and see what they can do to make it a better fit! If things don’t change then maybe start looking or stick it out till you apply to grad school.
posted by music for skeletons at 2:00 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

The colleague you are supposed to be taking over for -- was her title Project Coordinator? Also who told you that you were hired to take on work from her? Allegedly kind of sounds... wishy-washy enough that I'm wondering if that is truly the case.

Other than bringing this up with your manager, another tack is might be to directly ask your colleague what her timelines are for fully having you take on "x" or "y".
posted by sm1tten at 2:14 PM on February 19

Response by poster: Yes, she has the same title.

Multiple people have said that they were hiring for someone to move into one of her project roles. And she would stay on her other project while taking on some of the work that was being done by the person who was in my "coordinator" slot previously.

People will say things like, "well, that's really the project that ambulaneambiance was hired for so we should get her into more of it"
posted by ambulanceambiance at 2:23 PM on February 19

Hm, okay. Is it possible that her transition is also going really slowly? I would definitely lean onto the people who are remarking that these are projects that you were hired for (both in your conversations with this person and/or your manager) but also if any of them have the influence to kick start the process of getting you more engaged.

FWIW I had a similar experience and the other person really just did not want to let go. It had nothing to do with me, but it was an uphill battle for about six months where I felt like I was constantly trying to prove myself and get to the job and responsibilities I felt I had been hired for. I was also new to that org (but not inexperienced) and she was a lifer and that entire dynamic can really suck. Hopefully that is not the case for you!
posted by sm1tten at 2:35 PM on February 19

If you're seriously considering leaving, then it's certainly time to speak with your supervisor. They'd much rather hear from you than have you quit in another month or two!
posted by bluedaisy at 5:58 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

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