should i stay or should i go?
March 7, 2007 7:21 PM   Subscribe

i've been offered a job doing what i love. however, there are a few downsides. i'm trying to figure out if these downsides really matter. please help me decide between the job i have now and the job i could have.

so i work for a company that i love. i hate the job i'm in, though. things here are becoming slightly unstable. i like the people i work with and i like the atmosphere of being here, but i hate doing the actual work (customer service). i don't make a lot of money, but i make enough to live on and keep me in books.

i am a stellar employee and highly regarded. i'm given multiple stretch opportunities because i am so good at my job. i would like to move up in the company to their corporate headquarters so my talents can be used elsewhere. also, i hate west virginia, which is where i live now. unfortunately, i have tried this a few times and was shot down each time. apparently, you have to move up within your own area, so i would have to be a supervisor here for 6 months before i could become a manager here for 6 months and so on and so on. not what i want to do. i'm only 24 and i feel like i'm wasted here.

i went to school for journalism and graphic design, though i'm better at graphic design. a few fellow comrades from my university paper days have gotten involved with a start-up newspaper in a tiny town in west virginia. i've been offered a job at the newspaper doing graphics. i love graphics. so it sounds good. here are the problems:

1. no benefits. however, they say benefits are on the way soon. i'm pretty healthy, but you never know.

2. we (my boyfriend and i) live and work in huntington, which is about an hour away from the newspaper office location. we could potentially move to a halfway point, but then it would be a half-hour commute for the both of us (compared to our current 5 minute commute).

3. my car sucks. should i decide to take the newspaper job, i would have to purchase a new(er) car. one that can preferably drive more than 40 mph. i would probably be paid more than what i make currently, but i'm not sure if it would be cost-efficient since the extra money would be going toward a car payment and gas.

4. different schedules -- my job would be an 8-5, my boyfriend's job is 3-midnight. however, we would have weekends off, which will be the first time for both of us.

the newspaper, however, would give me a new macbook, which would be pretty awesome considering my 6 year old ibook is on its last legs. the newspaper has also recently expanded and purchased additional newspapers in, so it's not in any danger of folding.

so i need your opinion, hive mind. safe job that i hate and have no chance of moving up in, or new job that i would love that is far away?
posted by kerning to Work & Money (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Based on what you've told us, I'm inclined to tell you to take the new job.

I have a job that I love that is far away -- I'm in my car about an hour and a half to two hours each day -- and the fact that my job is so great far outweighs the length of the commute.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:36 PM on March 7, 2007

safe job that i hate and have no chance of moving up in.
I think this is your first mistake -- what is wrong with climbing the ladder the way they want you to? I'd give my left arm to be told I had to climb the ladder in front of me*! Once you've got some experience supervising, and managing, you'll have a lot more options both within your current company, and outside.

* I'm currently trying to find ANY ladder to climb.

posted by coriolisdave at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2007

The only part of your description that sounds like it's actually a potential deal-breaker is the different schedules — you'd have essentially zero time during the week to see your boyfriend. (At which point why not move an hour away so you also have a small commute, and commute on weekends?)

But what kind of newspaper job is 8-5? Is this ad design or something? Newspapers tend not to be morning places — is a later schedule out of the question? (Even something like noon-to-8?)
posted by raf at 7:48 PM on March 7, 2007

I am in a similar situation (age, current job, wanting a better/different job). Where I work, you can apply to any open job within the company, including any parent/child companies, and to a job that might be in a different state. How about looking for a designer job with the company you're with now, but in a different/better state?

You say that it would be the first time you two both had the weekends off, how much do you see each other now? I know that retail hours can be pretty crappy.

Is the office in Huntington the closest one to where you live now? A half-hour commute is pretty average. If you are willing to relocate, I'd say go for it (and be sure to ask for enough money so that you can save some in case of medical issues). On the other hand, if they are expanding so much, maybe down the line and when they offer benefits, they will have an office somewhere you want to work (instead of still being in WV).
posted by philomathoholic at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2007

Best answer: take the new job. here's how i see your problems, in the order liste:

1. not even a problem. you can manage until the benefits arrive, don't even consider it.
2. it seems horrible now, but it's not really that bad. I've been doing hour long (and longer. I currently take almost 2 hours to get to work) commutes for years, and you get used to it remarkably quickly. if there's a train you can take, you'd be better off, because commutes are easier when you can doze off, read or at least not concentrate on driving, but it'll still be fine.
3. this is a serious concern, but if the money will be better, it's probably worth it. I would ask you to recall whether or not you regularly spend money repairing your current car. if your car is as bad as it sounds, I'd imagine you do, and lease and insurance payments on a newer car probably aren't going to be that much more expensive than repairs are, if at all. but still, it's a concern.
4. this is a big deal. schedules that are this different are hell on a relationship, I won't lie. I've been through it, because I work night shifts, and some serious resentment can build up. You'll have to sit down with your boy and talk about this and determine to get through it, because 5 days is a long time not to see someone, although you will get sleepy snuggle time after midnight, which cures a lot of ills.

So you're down to looking at it this way:

do you want to do what you love and suffer through possible car money issues and the significant difficulty that differing schedules bring BUT have a job doing what you love, or do you want (what sounds to me like) a go nowhere retail job doing what you don't love in order to have an easy commute and more boyfriend time?

To my mind, you always go for doing what you love. Opportunities like this one don't always come along, and if you're not pursuing what you love to do, then what the hell are you doing with your life? Your boyfriend will understand, and hopefully you guys are strong enough to get through the scheduling issues, and car payments aren't worth abandoning what you love to do. If nothing else, you don't want to resent yourself or your boyfriend because you passed up this opportunity and you spent the next years thinking "what if?"

my $.02
posted by shmegegge at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2007

To my mind, you always go for doing what you love

Echo here. said "i hate west virginia", but moving even an hour away seems like a huge, complex deal. Things are always complicated with two people - what does the bf think about moving?

To be honest, I'm inclined to advise you to go with neither. The current job definitely doesn't sound like it's going anywhere (been there - I was in customer service for 3 years, as an exemplary employee and supervisor, but never could make the jump to management, despite repeated promises and road maps to the contrary. I finally came to terms with my disillusionment and made a drastic switch to a white-collar job), but the new job has enough drawbacks to make me hesitate.

What do you (and the bf) think about doing something really drastic - why don't you start looking for a graphic design job in Seattle or New York or Caracas or Reykjavík?
posted by puddleglum at 9:58 PM on March 7, 2007

i've been offered a job doing what i love.

Congratulations! Follow your dream. At your age, it's absolutely the right time to take chances like this if the payoff may be worth it. Consider where you want to be in 5 years, and follow the path that would take you there. Working in newspapers, or working in a corporate head office are such different paths, and it seems clear from your question which one you prefer.

The schedules thing with the boyfriend would be a concern, and you'll need to put a good bit of thought into how to deal with this, but the rest of the things on your list are certainly manageable.
posted by hazyjane at 1:08 AM on March 8, 2007

Take it, take it, take it, take it.

Get the picture?
posted by scratch at 6:32 AM on March 8, 2007

The lack of immediate benefits would concern me, even if you are presently healthy. You have no idea how one unexpected illness can totally fuck your finances (On the other hand, I wouldn't wish getting private health coverage on my worst enemy. It's a nasty way to go.)

The half-hour commute (if you move) is no big deal. There are thousands of people who would call a half-hour commute a luxury.

You don't like what you're currently doing. The new job is in the area you love. The people at the new job obviously want you on-board (i.e. you are valued beyond just a mere seat-warmer)

You are young. You have plenty of time to build a career in whatever direction you please. Now is the time to explore as many options as possible. Take this advice from one who nailed-down his career at a way-too-soon stage in his life and has grown to regret it.

Take the new job. Sounds like a fun new direction. And, good luck!
posted by Thorzdad at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2007

Regarding the benefits issue.
Massachusetts requires employers to offer health benefits to departing employees for up to 18 months after they depart. It's called Cobra, and the former employee pays the group rate including the employer’s contribution so it is a bit more expensive. Perhaps West Virginia has a similar requirement. I used Cobra benefits as a bridge in the past when I switched to a job with poorer health-care benefits.
Also, may be worth seeing if you boy friends company offers benefits for his 'life partner'. This is often at the discretion of the insurance provider. Many insurers are surprisingly liberal on about such coverage b/c they charge at the family rate which is more than double the single rate.

Finally, is it an option for your b/f to move/change jobs?
posted by evilelf at 8:46 AM on March 8, 2007

Oh, looks like COBRA is a federal requirement:
posted by evilelf at 9:02 AM on March 8, 2007

a few fellow comrades from my university paper days have gotten involved with a start-up newspaper in a tiny town in west virginia.

This is a bit of a concern. Where's their financing coming from? How stable is this newspaper likely to be? Are they competing against a larger, more established newspaper? What might happen if they go under after a year or so -- can you go back to your present job in some capacity? I'm pretty much on the side of those who are saying go for it, but you probably should develop some kind of backup plan if some disaster strikes this new company.
posted by JanetLand at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2007

Go for it. Big Companies will always be around, even in hard economic times. Opportunities like this won't. In fact, you can never be sure they'll come around again, at all. And you're in a perfect position to make the leap -- young, healthy, and presumably without a family to support & mortgage payments to make.
posted by treepour at 10:08 AM on March 8, 2007

Best answer: From one early 20-something journalism/graphic design type to another...

Please do it.

If I were you—like, literally, if it were me, 'cause I'm in a pretty similar situation at this very moment in time—I'd go for it. 'Cause customer service is not how you want to live out your days—and from what you say, it sounds like you're hitting the ceiling in terms of promotion at your particular company, anyway.

Believe me...I've seen people waste their true talents in customer service well into their mid-30s—the years just fly by like you wouldn't believe—and it's so rough to try to change paths at that point. And by "I've seen this," I mean the man I'm currently dating is 36 years old and just now escaping customer service hell to pursue what he really wants to do. Again, it is so rough. I don't wish that for you.

Here's how I look at it: How often are you given a chance to do exactly what you want to be doing, in a place where you already know the people you're going to be working with, and while you're still this young?

Regarding your above points:

1. Don't worry about benefits right now. As you note, new ones will probably kick in soon at the new job—and until that point, you're probably going to be okay. There are many, many of us early 20-somethings between insurance plans—and for the most part, we're going to be okay. (I'm right there with you.) If you have prescriptions, get extended supplies before you leave, and make sure to get a checkup while you're still under the plan...and then, well, you've done what you can do, you know? Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith—and it sounds like this is exactly the time to do that.

2. I wouldn't worry about moving just yet. I'd just try it out with the commute for the time being, and then if you feel like the newspaper is a place you want to continue to be...then you figure out whether you need to move. At the point you're's a concern, to be sure, but it's not something you need to have figured out yet in order to take the job.

But...alternately, if you already know the early mornings and the long commute will be too much hell to endure, is there anyone already settled in with the newspaper who can help you guys get a place closer? Might want to consult with them on that.

3. As for the car thing—don't get a new car! Get a nice reliable used car for a few thousand and you won't have to worry about car payments. (Or at least not huge car payments, and not for very long.)

4. You already know some of the people you're going to work with at the newspaper. Talk to them; can anything be done about the scheduling? At this point, it's a startup—so most everything should be negotiable to some extent, no? Most companies are more flexible than you might think—and at this one, you'd be getting in on the ground floor, before everything's set. Talk to them about this concern before you decide it isn't doable—'cause it's always worth it to ask.

Your concerns about health care, the commute, and housing are all perfectly valid—and all things that I've come up against in my own journalism job search—but they're all things that are negotiable. Please don't let them stop you from doing what you want to do.
posted by limeonaire at 10:44 AM on March 8, 2007

I say take it because you're in a position I would have given my left arm to be in, nine years ago. (I worked for a small newspaper doing graphics after working on my college paper.) Designing for newspapers was my favorite job ever, and I wish I could have stuck with it.

Of course, that's just my envy talking, and not taking into consideration any of the practicalities.
posted by pyjammy at 11:13 AM on March 8, 2007

Is it possible you can telecommute? Doing computer-based graphic design lends itself to this.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2007

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