Help me choose between these two jobs!
October 26, 2007 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I've got two great job offers on the table, but unfortunately, I can't figure out which I should take. One is with an amazing organization, but doing more J2EE work; the other is sexy Adobe Flex work, but Contract. Help me choose!!!

I'm relatively new to the workforce -- been out of school a little over two years now -- and have moved into becoming a full time software developer. My current job is more consulting-y than I'd like, and I am forced to work with some unmotivated people, so I've begun looking for a new position. By my great luck, I've ended up with two job offers -- but now I don't know which to choose!

The first offer is with the best run company I've ever encountered. To give you an idea of how on top of things they are, I went through four interviews, including a tech interview, and received a job offer from one of the most senior folks in the company -- before even one week had passed from first contact! Everyone I've met in the company is truly talented and passionate, and the company has a good reputation for itself. The only real downside is that I would be doing a lot of Java Spring / Hibernate work. My background is primarily J2EE, but I've really enjoyed working with Adobe Flex and I'm primarily interested in focusing on building sexy front ends. This company does do some of that work, but I would not have access to it for at least a year, and they tend to be more enterprise-y in general.

The OTHER offer, conversely, is 100% Flex stuff, is really interesting, and focussed on front end work. It would also offer me more money than I currently make. Since I ultimately want to spend my time doing RIA development, I definitely want to further my Flex experience. The problem is that it's contract based. While I would have a full time position guaranteed for the next 6 months, I've never done contract work before, and so I'm a touch frightened by it. In my current job, I do most of my work alone as it is... but the thought of REALLY being a one man show is definitely a huge adjustment for me.

PLEASE help me make the right choice!!
posted by SanctiCrucis05 to Work & Money (12 answers total)
If there's any possibility you could do Flex work in the 1st company, I'd say jump for that one. That company sounds like it values initiative and would probably encourage you to expand your skillset and experience.

I have to disclose, though, that I've never been a fan of straight contract work; I prefer to find a really great company and stay with them, rather than hop from job to job following contracts. You might make a bit less money, but to me it's worth it. YMMV.
posted by tigerjade at 7:13 AM on October 26, 2007

I'm a front-end guy, and that Java stuff doesn't sound all that exciting to me, yet I'd jump at that first position, anyway.

Everyone I've met in the company is truly talented and passionate

That's INCREDIBLY rare. You'll grow so much working with a team like this. And it sounds like the sort of job where they'll ultimately let you explore your interests.
posted by grumblebee at 7:27 AM on October 26, 2007

Contract is always risky as you don’t know what the market will be like in 6 months. You also said the #2 offer was more bread…are you also factoring in paying for your own insurance/holidays/401?
posted by doorsfan at 7:37 AM on October 26, 2007

Response by poster: Two other notes:

Contract position is contract-to-hire (provided things work out for both parties).

And yes, contract should end up paying more, even with insurance costs, extra social security tax, etc
posted by SanctiCrucis05 at 7:52 AM on October 26, 2007

I've often worked solely for myself but I have traded it all for a talented and passionate team. I agree with grumblebee.
posted by tcv at 7:55 AM on October 26, 2007

Is there relocation involved? To me that would be a big factor also (where do you want to live?). Particularly for the contract job - I'd be nervous about relocating for a job that wasn't secure, unless you like moving a lot.

Also, from your question, it seems like you really value working with other talented and motivated people, and that the contract job would be more isolated. Don't underestimate the working environment as it figures into job satisfaction.
posted by jpdoane at 8:17 AM on October 26, 2007

Response by poster: Neither job requires relocation. The contract gig has a location approximately a block from my apartment; the full-time position requires a 20 mile (apprx 40 min) commute.

The other thing I should say about the full-time position: while I may be working with very talented people, they will be geographically distributed throughout the area. I don't expect to have more than one or two in the same location as me on any given day (essentially, I'll be working at a client site instead of in a central office).
posted by SanctiCrucis05 at 8:26 AM on October 26, 2007

Well, It sounds like you're highly employable, and the first job may might even still be available in 6mo. Why not go for the contract position - if its your dream job, great! If you don't like it or it only lasts 6mo, then you're back to looking for a job, but then you will also have the added experience and knowledge about working on contract, working on Flex, working with company B, etc.

Take the job you think you would enjoy more. If you can't decide, go with company B, as a low risk, high potential payoff option.
posted by jpdoane at 9:05 AM on October 26, 2007

Oh, also - 5min communte vs 40 min commute = over an hour difference per day of free time
posted by jpdoane at 9:06 AM on October 26, 2007

Best answer: If you've only been out of school for a couple of years, you probably are relatively responsibility-free (compared to having a family, mortgage, etc.) and the unknowns of contract work aren't as scary as they would be in a decade or so. Contract-to-hire is also standard practice for some companies, especially when it comes to developers. There's quite a few places in my area that won't offer any developer a full-time position without 3-6 months of contract work first. Don't let the fact that it's contract-to-hire alone turn you off.

While working with talent people is great, I'd much rather work in the area I wanted with mediocre coworkers than work with great people an area I didn't like. It's always possible to change jobs and find somewhere with more talent, but you can't change your experience. If you really want to work on building web front-ends, do you want to spend time doing something else?

For my Masters in Computer Science thesis project, I did work with both J2EE and Flex. And ye gods, I'd much rather work on Flex than J2EE any day. I hated, hated, hated enterprise-style development and have about zero desire to ever do anything like that again.

Currently, my office is about 10-15 minutes from my apartment and I would take a really compelling offer to get me to go any further. I loathe commutating though, but perhaps others find it more tolerable.

These seem like the major considerations and that's how I personally would evaluate them. What it really just comes down to what you value most. Is a minimal commute important? Clear-cut job security? Working with a great team, if only occasionally? Working directly in the area you'd like to? I'd take the contract job, but my preferences might be different than yours. Either way, good luck and I hope it works out.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:16 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "but I would not have access to it for at least a year"

Is this related to your resume and level of expereince? If they were hiring a Flex expert, would they be able to work front end stuff right away?

What if you go contract with B for a year, and then (if you still want to) come back and apply at company A for the front end design job as a seasoned Flex guru?

Heck, if you do this, tell company A your plan - you really love the company (because of observations X,Y,&Z), but you also want to work on the sort of things that interests you: "If I went and got some Flex experience under my belt on a contract job, what would be the chances of you having a front end job for me in a year or so?" Particularly if company A values motivated people so much, this would make you very attractive to them
posted by jpdoane at 9:33 AM on October 26, 2007

Eventually you will come to understand that who you work with is far more valuable than what you work on.

First of all, it makes going to work a joy. Second, you make contacts that are actually valuable when the time comes to move on. You want the smart people to call you up when they land at the next good company.

Still, you are early enough in your career that you can learn this lesson the hard way and not do yourself much harm. Personally, having been on a wide variety of teams quality-wise, I would rather dig ditches with a great team than have unlimited resources while working with a mediocre one. However, you only can know what a great team is by being on one.
posted by trinity8-director at 3:01 PM on October 26, 2007

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