Alright, internet. You're going to have to forgive me just a little bit more career navel-gazing. I could use some advice.
The folks I interviewed with made me an offer yesterday. It wasn't what I was hoping for — it'd constitute a 10% cut from my last paycheck. If you count the raise I got between the interview and the offer, it's almost a 22% cut. They do 401k matching, bonuses and stock option stuff that my current employer doesn't, but it won't make up the difference.
My current job kind of sucks. It revolves around getting Microsoft technology, which I don't like, to do boring things for military and government clients. Our standard contract involves working for a client who has been sold something expensive by Microsoft but has no idea what to do with it.
The new job seems like it would be better. They use open source software. It sounds like clients typically approach them, say "we want people to think our website is cool," then let them run wild. Blogs, RSS, location-based services, AJAX — I'd probably get to play with all that good stuff. These are technologies I like messing around with in my spare time. And although I know there'd be drudge work like in any job, I think there would be much more room for doing interesting and innovative things.
At my current job I'm top dog. This is, to some extent, because we're a technical house of cards — I can't make myself watch webcasts about ASP.NET 2.0 in my off time like a Microsoft shop's CTO should, and nobody else on staff knows anything about software development. But my boss loves me, and I can pretty much get away with whatever I want. Business is starting to take off (hence the raises). I used to be able to work from home more days than not, but I don't know if that will ever happen again.
The new job would make me a developer working directly under the CTO. It's a slightly bigger company, but this move would still look like a step down on my resume. The place is filled with young people whose politics I admire, and from whom I could learn new things (instead of just treading water). The commute's slightly worse (although that will likely change in a few months), but although they only allow for one day/week of telecommuting, it looks like a more reliably pajama-friendly position than my current job. Also, I could wear jeans to work.
I think that's it. And I think I have to take it. I need to write out my budget and make sure everything adds up. Fewer electronic toys and fancy dinners with Catherine should do it. Aside from those, I'm not very high-maintenance. But I do hate the thought of, years from now, little Tom Jr. and Tomasina leaving a shittier house in a shittier neighborhood to go to a shittier school than would have been possible, if only their pop didn't hate SharePoint so goddamned much.
This is a young company; it could pay off down the road. Of course, we're on the brink of the "paying off" phase at my current job — it's just that now I can see that the payoff is a long career working in the government contracting ghetto. I meet people on this job who work for private companies but have navy.mil email addresses. That's how long they've worked on this goddamn project. I really, really don't want to end up like that.
This would be a do-over, with better politics, technology and people. I don't know if this is a really stupid decision, but I think I'm still young enough to be a little stupid.
Here's where you tell me what a dope I am. Trust me, I probably need to hear it.