Better is work experience where love is, than a fulltime job and hatred therewith.
February 27, 2008 7:57 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell if I really liked the job or the people?

I have been doing work experience with a large company, and now have been offered a job with them. I'm thinking I will take it, because I have really enjoyed my work experience with them - I enjoyed my work, and was happy to turn up to work every day. However, I can't tell how much of my positive feeling about the job comes from the work I did, and how much was the individuals I've been working with. My coworkers have all been awesome people, some of whom I became friends with out of work. That's great, but were I to take the job, it is likely I would be working in a completely separate department with completely different people (still doing the same work). People I've met from other departments have also been very friendly, but I guess I feel that I am unlikely to find the same environment, and I don't know how much the idea of that environment is influencing me. It doesn't help that I have no experience at any other real job to compare with. I would just take it and see how it goes, but the job is in a different city so it seems like a big decision.

Given that you probably don't actually know what I'm thinking, I guess I'd like to know how to understand my own motivations and influences when making the decision.

(Anon because I'm shy and there are almost definitely coworkers on mefi. Follow up at
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Most of most jobs is the people, in my experience (this is why there are people like me who do two summer internships at the same company, but on different teams, and can't deal with the idea of going back after the second one). Is there a way you can meet the people you'll be working with? Or at least call up your friends from the company and say, "Hey, so I'm thinking about taking a job where I'd be working in department X with person Y doing Z. Can you put us in touch? Do you know person Y? Completely off the record, what do you think of her?"
posted by crinklebat at 8:20 AM on February 27, 2008

From my own experience, the people I work with make a HUGE difference on my enjoyment of the tasks at hand. One team I was on two years ago had a particularly poisonous team member, and everyone was unhappy. This person liked to stir the pot, gossip, and claimed that any reaction other than "That's brilliant" to a suggestion was a slight against [it]self. Once this person found a "better" job that would "appreciate" [its] skills more and left the company, the team was much much happier as a whole.

My current job has LOADs of frustrations daily, but when I think of the job, it's with happy thoughts because the people I work with are really pleasant and good at their jobs. But I do like the work I'm doing, too.

All that to echo crinklebat's suggestion of getting to know the folks on the team you would be on. No one should dislike the people they spend most of their time with...
posted by at 8:35 AM on February 27, 2008

What I've found:

I love the job where I really like the people and the work.

I hate the job where I really like the people and hate the work, but I stay and am relatively happy because I like the people.

I tolerate the job where I'm not that friendly with everyone and I really enjoy the work. I stay and am pretty happy because I like the work.

I leave the jobs where I'm not that friendly with everyone and I don't enjoy the work.

(On preview: If I like the people and the work, but someone there is poisonous, per Odi's comment, the rest doesn't really matter. That person drags everything down.)

Those situations are fluid BTW, so even though you love the people and the work today, some people might leave and others come on that you don't like as much. Or maybe your work changes. It won't always be awesome. Keep in mind that you haven't met the other people, so you didn't have a chance to form the bond that you have with your existing workgroup. And that bond may or may not come. But you can still enjoy your job even if you aren't best friends with your co-workers. And sometimes new people join the team and you end up being friends with them (my closest friends are not people that were there when I started, but rather people that joined the team after I was already there). I like Crinklebat's suggestion, and presumably the people on the new team would want to meet you as well.

NB: When I say I am "not that friendly" with co-workers in this comment, I am using your definition of "friendly". I am generally a friendly and outgoing person and I get along with most of my co-workers regardless of whether we are friends.
posted by ml98tu at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe look at it a different way, what are your alternatives to taking this job? Presumably looking for a job elsewhere, maybe not moving cities at all?

So on the one hand you have a job offer where you know the work is tolerable, you have friends to hang out with outside work (you said you socalised with your old work mates before, presumably you can still do that while working for a different department?), where the overall company culture seems to foster the kind of working environment you like, and where you can find out ahead of time if the new workmates will be decent (as crinklebat suggested). And on the other hand you have ... a big unknown. You may find another job where everything is awesome but you may also find another job which sucks in every way.

So now you need to decide how much effort you want to put into the unknown vs taking this job. Personally I think for a first 'real' job this sounds like a decent opportunity (assuming checking out the other department yields encouraging information). It's always a bit of a crapshoot getting into the workplace and if you wait for something else perfect you might not find it. Better to just get started and see how things progress, your priorities may change once you have more experience anyway.

Whatever you decide to do definitely try to keep in touch with your old colleagues. They'll help with career networking plus it sounds like hanging out with them is just plain fun. If you do decide to move to the new city they will help form your new social circle, you won't be all isolated and starting from scratch. And if you decide not to move right now then they may be able to alert you if a position comes up in their department or somewhere similarly awesome.

New jobs are always scary, good luck!
posted by shelleycat at 2:11 PM on February 27, 2008

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