Pick a job
February 27, 2007 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose a job, please.

After months of trying to get steady freelance work, I suddenly find myself in the position of interviewing for and (potentially) having to choose between two job offers. They both have their plusses and minuses and I was wondering what the hive-mind thought.

Job A: This would be the "fun" job as it would involve creating graphics for some very interesting clients. I suspect the pay would be good, as well. The downside would be a 65-70 mile commute one-way each day. So, and hour+ each day in Interstate Highway traffic. Leaves our kid on her own at home aftershchool. And most likely I would not be able to make it home in time for any of her sports events.

Job B: A more mundane job being the "art department" for a local cultural institution. Lots of print work. Pamphlets, brochures, etc. Pay most likely isn't as good as what Job A might be. The plus...a 15-minute commute. Keeps me close to home. We have a kid in school, so that makes it a quick trip to school for any problems. Also makes it easier to make it to her sports events, as well as get her to any doctor appointments without losing most of a day.

Soooo...I'm torn. Job A promises an energetic environment and lots of work that's right up my alley. Job B is probably more relaxed, relatively, but in a more "marketing" environment.
The close-to-home aspect of Job B is very attractive to me.

Which might you choose?
posted by Thorzdad to Work & Money (16 answers total)
This is a no-brainer for me. Take Job B. You're talking >2 hours/day in a car when you could be with your family. These are hours you will never get back to spend with your daughter. She'll grow in a flash and wonder where the hell you were. If you're dying for some interesting work, do some freelance on the side.
posted by ldenneau at 4:33 PM on February 27, 2007

B, unless you're willing to move. That 65 mile trip -- 130 miles every day is going to be awful after the initial shine of the new job wears off. Add in traffic, and you're looking at 3 hours per day stuck in a car, minimum. That's no way to live.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2007

Agreed - B. Life is too short to spend that much time commuting for what you already spend too much of your life doing.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:47 PM on February 27, 2007

Another vote for B. I'm going to hazard a guess that you've never had a regular long work commute before? It is truly soul-sucking and will likely erase the joy of the job itself.
posted by pineapple at 5:12 PM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all. Wise words.

I was really leaning toward job B, myself, simply from a family standpoint. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't insane.

Job A would be hot and exciting and way cool (they have J.P. Montoya's F1 McLaren hanging on the freaking wall, fer chrissakes) but, yeah...that commute.

Actually, I've done that commute before (for 5 years) and, like Eddie says...That's no way to live. I believe I actually said those very words while stuck in traffic one 95-degree day.

I'm going on 50. Home is becoming way more important to me these days.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:19 PM on February 27, 2007

Is there any possibility of telecommuting/flex hours to A? It sounds like you're a lot more excited about it, even if B is a lot more practical. If it's very much a 9-5, be here in the office kind of thing, it seems like the commute would get old really fast.
posted by crinklebat at 5:23 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second crinklebat. You need to investigate Job A further: pay, benefits (is the health plan better for you and your growing family?), will they help you find daycare (or do they offer it on-site?), will they let you flex your hours to do work from a dedicated home office if all your doing is design and not meetings?,
posted by parmanparman at 5:32 PM on February 27, 2007

I have had a similar commute to the one Job A would require (80 miles each way) and it is not something I would recommend. I say that as someone who practically lived in her car before I took on such a commute. Not only is it a ridiculous amount of time to spend in your car every day, you have to go to bed earlier to make sure you're alert enough in the morning to make the drive. Honestly, that's what was the worst part about it for me, and it's something I hadn't even considered: assuming I got out at 5, with traffic I'd be home by 6:30 or 7, and I'd have to force myself to be in bed by 11 or 11:30 so I could get up at 5:30 and be awake enough not to be a road hazard. I didn't always succeed, and an hour into the drive when your eyelids start to get heavy is not a fun time to realize that there's no good place to pull over for a catnap.

Sorry for my dire tone, but I really thought I'd be okay with such a long commute and I really wasn't. If I was on my own I might not have minded as much, but you don't realize how little time 4-5 hours in the evening is when you just finished a hectic drive, and still have to eat dinner and work out/help kids with homework/walk the dog/etc. before you get any down time.

Either way, congrats on the good job luck and I hope whichever one you choose works out for you!
posted by AV at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2007

I'm with the people who say no way to 2h a day. Over a workweek that's 8h, a whole additional workday! I think of that as a job where I'm only being paid for 5/6th of my work.

I also agree that you should just be blunt with job A and see if they're game for some kind of telecommute. Negotiating for something you're prepared to walk away from is a great joy - you can't lose!
posted by phearlez at 7:58 PM on February 27, 2007

B? Hell no - I definitely vote A.

It sounds like you're barely challenged as it is and if you do decide to go with job B, you will once again continue on a mundane path potentially producing mundane design work for mundane people. It sounds like the answer you are looking for is a little more complicated than just choosing A or B. I would suggest not assuming that you have to sacrifice anything because you have kids but I do understand that a soccer game far out-weighs the create another direct-mail piece...even if it is for the MoMA.

How about option C:
Take job A and negotiate a flexible schedule?

I too have kids and I'm a designer...and I wouldn't want to miss two seconds of a football game or a chess match...however - it's easy for parents to assume that work is work and it will always come in at a distant second to runny noses and late night puking. Although that's true - you're career or identity as a creative mind can't be summed up or remedied with a flip of the coin...

I have to believe there's a third choice...
posted by iwishmylastnamewaswallace at 2:58 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Some interesting additions to the discussion...

More about job A...it's an 8-5 job (there is no such thing as 9-5 anymore, guys. Employers don't count lunch) No telecommute is available. The hours are flexible about a half-hour either way. So, not really. And, honestly, how flexible can the hours get to make a one-hour-plus commute tolerable?

As I said, I did a similar commute for 5 years and it was a depressing grind.

It sounds like you're barely challenged as it is and if you do decide to go with job B, you will once again continue on a mundane path potentially producing mundane design work for mundane people.
True, to a point. I've never been truly challenged throughout my career, but, then again, I've never been one of those wide-eyed zealots who lives-breathes-eats-drinks-shits design, either.
I don't think the work at Job B would be mundane, per-se. Just standard print fare for a cultural institution in a small rust-belt midwestern town. I mean, it could be cool, if allowed to really create an image for the place. Another plus would be that it would get me more-or-less active in the community arts scene.

As I said, I am almost 50 now. My career, such as it has been, is not exactly on the upward slope anymore. I'm not trying to change the world via design anymore. I simply want to do good work for people who recognize the difference competent design can make. Believe me, in this region, those people are rare as hen's teeth.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 AM on February 28, 2007

I'd say B unless your neighborhood can be A's "branch office."
posted by salvia at 8:03 AM on February 28, 2007

Definitely B. You're going to have decades after your kids are grown to take the next Job A to come down the pike. The hours you would spend commuting while they are still at home would be just thrown away, in my opinion.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:05 AM on February 28, 2007

I'd go for B as well. when you figure out the salary, add the extra 3 hours a day of commuting and see how close your hourly wage really is.
posted by hilby at 9:40 AM on February 28, 2007

Best answer: I'm a kid of a parent that took Job A.

I would hear my mom in the mornings getting ready and then the next time I would hear her slowly and tiredly walking up from the basement garage, walk over and say hello to her and go back to watching TV.

She almost never came to my dance recitals or science fairs or plays. The only time I really recall interacting with her is when I was misbehaving and because I never had the experience of her supporting me when I was doing something good, I always regarded her as the bad cop.

And if it's telling at all, when I had sessions with a psych grad in college, the first time I mentioned my mom, he was really surprised because I would just talk about my dad. He assumed that my parents had divorced or that my mother was dead.

My mom and I get along great now, but it didn't really happen until after college (probably because of those sessions).

An addendum: After a school event or play, I would see the other parents with their kids looking so proud and happy. I would feel this huge wave of loneliness, jealousy, resignation, anger and sadness. I don't think any parent would want their child to ever feel like that if they could prevent it.

On preview, holy crap I need to look at pictures of puppies stat.
posted by spec80 at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all.
Everyone had great, helpful insights and opinions. I truly appreciate it.
Spec80 gets the "Best Answer" nod, though, for his ingenious inclusion of puppies to the conversation.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2007

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