decisions

posted by tom / November 23, 2005 /

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.

Comments

You're young. And it's not always about the money. And Thomasina and Tom Jr. won't suffer because of not living in a big fancy house because their parental unit didn't strike gold at age twenty-whatever. Will it make you happier? Excited (or at least MORE excited) to wake up and get to the office every day? To be part of something you respect? Maybe.

I feel your pain, I went through all of this last spring. I can't say it worked out as planned, but I still think I made the right move. (Mine was really a choice of two evils though.) So consider yourself kind of lucky- you're picking between good things, either way.

Posted by: the g. on November 23, 2005 10:40 AM

Well, obviously, do the "write-out the budget" thing, but assuming you can make do I think you should definitely take the new job.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias on November 23, 2005 11:16 AM

Tom, don't do it! Keep looking. It's my feeling that it's never a good idea to take a pay cut unless you are changing careers and starting at a new level.

Did you try to negotiate at all? Did you tell them what you were already making?

Eventually, we all have the potential to be miserable wherever we go. You might as well have the money to buy yourself concession prizes.

Posted by: Teresa on November 23, 2005 11:21 AM

I told them what I was making when I applied. They said "we did our best to match it", and "push back if you need to". I pushed back, they said they really can't do anything more (I believe them). They also emphasized their perks, flexibility, and encouraged me to view them as a growing company that will reward its employees as it succeeds (they're young but growing rapidly, profitably, and I really like their prospects).

I really hope that your final paragraph is overly pessimistic. But I may be looking at the new job through rose-colored glasses. I've contacted the guy who's leaving this position, and he says he'll chat with me over the weekend. Maybe I can get a little more insight into the job's future prospects from him.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 11:45 AM

I think you should do it - even though it seems like a step down now, it sounds like you'll have a lot more oppportunity down the road. 10% isn't really too big of a hit for long-term happiness. Also, 401(k) matching while you're young is a very good thing.

I say this as someone who just made a similar switch - I'm making the exact same salary as before, but I'm living in a place that, on paper, has about a 10% higher cost-of-living. (Rent is more than twice as much, but there are savings elsewhere... I think.) In spite of the learning curve, and the "what have I done?" moments, I know I made the right decision. Your job takes up a lot of your life - if you can be happier, and still make it work financially, it's probably worth the trade-off. Good luck!

Posted by: kimarsh on November 23, 2005 11:46 AM

Tom,

ogged asked me to come give advice but I need a little more info.

My experience in the tech world is that after awhile it *all* becomes relatively boring. Today's kewl new becomes tommorow's has been. Most of the kewl new is hype and remarketing of the old.

So my advice is to focus on the people. How do you feel about the people you currently work with? If you feel good and you think it will stay that way then stick it out.

Good people can make boring work fun, and after awhile ALL work becomes boring. I say this after 27 years in the booming computer field.

So focus on working with good people.

Posted by: Tripp on November 23, 2005 11:47 AM

Thanks for the advice, Tripp. You've got a good point about tech eventually getting boring no matter what -- but still, building and maintaining online communities sounds more fun than building glorified spreadsheets for the Navy.

The people are a big consideration. I get along fine with the folks I work with, but I certainly don't hang out with any of them socially. My current company was born, I think, of my boss getting his MBA during the dotcom boom and deciding the internet would be a good place for a business. It's a management team that employs programmers only because they have to sell something -- they don't particularly care what.

The new place is a consultancy founded by tech folks from one of the major '04 Democratic presidential campaigns. They do a lot of stuff with progressive politics, and are a young, savvy staff. I've met a bunch of them at a happy hour one night, and like them. The tech might get boring, but they're plugged into net culture in a way that I've never encountered before in a business. That's pretty appealing to me. I'd like to work with folks who know what blogs are.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 11:57 AM

Yeah man, go for the happiness, you can always donate blood for extra change. As Matt says, write out the budget, but assuming there's any way to make the finances work, what's the point of more money, which is supposed to make you happier, if you spend the majority of your conscious hours at a task that makes you unhappy? Not to be all hippy about it, but follow your bliss, man. Now I gotta go listen to some Greatful Dead.

Posted by: Ezra on November 23, 2005 12:00 PM

I don't know if my last paragraph was "overly pessimistic." I've never been known to be an optimist, but from my experience (with 8 companies) it rings true.

Real estate and the cost of living are only going to get more expensive. Plus interest rates are going up. Money isn't everything, but it's not unimportant.

Posted by: Teresa on November 23, 2005 12:02 PM

Well, I recently jumped jobs, and had similar concerns: step down in resume title, slight step down in salary (with potential for increases), etc.

I think I based my decision is that no amount of money is worth being miserable at your job. I decided the financial downsides of changing jobs were outweighed by the quality-of-life upsides.

I think I agree with Tripp that the technologies you're using don't matter as much as some other things, like the people you'll be working with, and the stability/growth-potential of the two businesses. Three irritatingly bad software startups in a row led me to value stability over growth potential, since a lot of the latter is hot air.

Good people, good work environment, the chance to learn new stuff, and wear jeans? As long as you've done your due diligence about their business plan, I say go for it.

Posted by: Matt #3 on November 23, 2005 12:32 PM

I was in a similar situation years ago, took the cut for a much happier environment and I'm glad I made the jump. Over time, my salary passed what I was making before as new opportunities for me within this company arose. Always take the job that makes you want to get up and go in the morning. You can always go into sales (I'd rather starve first) later when your kid needs prep school tuition.

Posted by: jscott on November 23, 2005 12:46 PM

You sound like you want the new job, and want to get out of the old job, which suggests to me that if the pay is workable, you should do it.

Given that you seem to have negotiated to a limit on the salary, can you push your job-title/rank/nominal duties up a notch? I don't like the idea of taking a job that looks like a step down -- think about what could change about the new job that would make it look/feel like a promotion, even with the pay cut, and see if you can get the new place to go for it.

Posted by: LizardBreath on November 23, 2005 12:54 PM

Hmm. It's a good idea, LB, but I donno how viable it is. I'd be working with and reporting to the CTO, who reports to the CEO. Not a lot of room to move up, there, although I get the impression that as other people are brought on there's plenty of potential for managing them (they were asking plenty of questions about my experience in that area).

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 01:02 PM

Also, as far as titles, it'd go from "lead developer" to "software architect". Not a *huge* difference, I don't think.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 01:04 PM

Yeah, those are both pretty bitchin' titles.

Posted by: Matt #3 on November 23, 2005 01:13 PM

Being a software developer myself, what I get from what you're saying is you want to jump. You'll get better technical skills and you'll be doing what you like.

One of the greatest dangers I've seen is to become complacent due to lack of interest in one's work. In the new job, it seems like you'll develop technically and that's important until/if you decide to go to a less technical role. If you lose your technical skills now, it's tough to get them back.

If you can't negotiate better pay now, you could ask for an earlier review to move up potential raises.

Posted by: Miller on November 23, 2005 01:14 PM

Yeah, I do want to jump. I guess that's what it may come down to.

But w/r/t tech skills, it's a little complicated. I'm an ASP.NET guy with Microsoft certifications and a secret clearance. But I don't want to do any of that. These guys are a PHP shop and don't work for the government. So while I'll definitely learn new things, I will, at the very least, be allowing my old skills to atrophy, if not throwing them away completely.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 01:18 PM

Lead anything looks better on a resume. I'll admit that I've done a good job growing my salary, with out reaping any more happiness....but that's as irelevant as my spelling skilz. Tom I don't know your work intimately....but you seem intellgent and significantly above average in what you do. There is no reason you shouldnt be able to find a job doing what you like to do without taking a pay cut. And unless you're way overpaid right now, i'd wager you should be asking for 10% more....not less. Be patient, there's a ton of tech work here.

Posted by: Scott on November 23, 2005 01:26 PM

I'd like to work with folks who know what blogs are.

Whoo boy. If there was ever a statement that better exemplified "Be careful what you wish for" I haven't seen it!

Posted by: Tripp on November 23, 2005 01:34 PM

With these guys, blogging went on the resume. They asked me what sites I read in the interview.

I didn't give them my personal URL, but mentioned DCist and BTD. I wouldn't be surprised if they were reading this right now.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 01:48 PM

If you're in your twenties, and Tom Jr. and Thomasina are still hypothetical, then take the job you want. If you don't want to do what you're doing, there's never going to be a better time to change, or to take risks. That step-down-on-the-resume stuff may be of concern, depending on how your field works, but in some fields reputation and contacts are the way to get to the interesting jobs, and this new company sounds like a place where you could build these.

Posted by: mcmc on November 23, 2005 01:54 PM

I didn't read anyone else's advice, so this may be getting redundant, but you've been complaining about your job for as long as I can remember. If this new one can give you even a single month where the only thing you have to complain about is your aching back (knee, head, groin, etc.), then consider it a win.

Posted by: jeff on November 23, 2005 02:12 PM

Well, I can't promise that it'd actually end the whining, but I think it'd make it less substantive.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 02:15 PM

NEVER TAKE A PAY CUT! If a company is not willing to pay what you think you're worth, then don't take it. I currently make a buttload of money and it's because I always get a huge pay increase when I move to a new job. Sure a 401(k) is nice, but if you need the money in your pocket now, a 401(k) does nothing since you can't (or shouldn't) touch it. Nowadays, as long as you've got health benefits, the rest is just smoke and mirrors to attract employees.
When I return to DC in a few years, I'll be making Boston money in DC. I'm already on the road to making six-figures before I'm 30. Now if my dating situation were different...

Posted by: Tomas on November 23, 2005 02:18 PM

I have been refraining from giving advice. Mainly because anyone with good job advice probably doesn't have two of them. My question is, will going to the new job be better than breaking your leg?

Posted by: charles on November 23, 2005 02:22 PM

Well, these guys work with lots of nonprofits. It's not that they and I don't think I'm worth more, it's that at the moment they can't afford to pay more. I should be able to get by just fine with the money they're offering.

I don't know, though. In principle, I see your point. Climbing to the top of the mountain of commerce and all that. I don't think I can fake it indefinitely, though. My ability to do this job is already suffering from how much I hate this project.

And Charles: yes, I think it will be better than breaking my leg. It's at least a longer-term solution.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 02:23 PM

I'm largely with mcmc. In my experience, most employment opportunities come about as a result of work contacts. Work with the smartest and most savy people you can. Work at a place that gives you exposure to a lot of people outside of the firm. If this new place (for example) doesn't work out, the smart people will leave and pull you with them. Or someone outside the firm will notice that you're awfully smart and recruit you away. I wouldn't, however, give much thought to the underlying political beliefs of the people you work with.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim on November 23, 2005 02:24 PM

Well, I don't put stock in individuals' politics. But the fact that the company does a lot of work for progressive organizations and candidates matters to me. Also, my current employer's conservatism seems to manifest itself in pursuing a lot of work with the military. Nothing against the military, of course, but those contracts are invariably pretty awful.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 02:28 PM

My advice is to NEVER follow Teresa's advice. Would more money from your current boss make you consider staying with them?

Posted by: Jon on November 23, 2005 02:35 PM

Well, never say never. But I was ready to leave before the raise, and I still think I'm ready to leave. It's just complicated things. The compensation for this job has suddenly become such that I'm unlikely to be able to replicate it anywhere else in the short term -- it's the result of my particular value to the company (clearances, certs, experience, sticking with them through lean times).

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 02:41 PM

I'd argue that 401k thing for hours, BTW.

Then again, you can bet your sweet ass I'm not making six-figures by the time I'm 30, so maybe I'm not as bright as I think I am.

(((Work to live, not etc. etc.)))

Anyways, best of luck on the decision- Happy Thanksgiving to you and Catherine!

Posted by: the g. on November 23, 2005 02:43 PM

Thanks, G. Happy thanksgiving to you and the Nabob, too.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 02:45 PM

Matt #3 commented on growth potential of small businesses and how it is hot air. I disagree. I just left a small company of about 100 people that got sold. Employees who were hired early got stock options and some of them made out quite well. I'm not talking about directors. I'm talking about an employee who walked away with $50K when the company was sold. No investment, but huge profit. BTW, the president took home $43 million. This was not hot air. But even if a small company does fold, there is usually still work for technical people. So you just move to the next place.

Since your title will be changing from developer to architect, does that mean you will be doing the design rather than the implementation? I think architect is a more lofty title since it requires more experience. You have to be a developer before you can be an architect. It's a more senior role.

In regards to your comment about spending a single month without complaining, a month isn't that long. Do you really want to change careers and take on all the associated stresses for a single month of peace???

My rule of thumb is at least a 15% salary increase to justify a move.

Posted by: Teresa on November 23, 2005 03:16 PM

"Always take the job that makes you want to get up and go in the morning."

This is good advice- burnout sucks.

Posted by: TJ on November 23, 2005 03:17 PM

Here's what would tip it for me. The thing you're in sounds like it's got a settled hierarchy and you can see the path forward, and you don't like it. The thing you're going to sounds like it's another in a string of projects undertaken by people with energy who know each other and thrive on contacts. Such people often go on, later, to yet another similar thing. So even if you don't see this company doing it for you forever, you might see these people, and you with them, succeeding at many other projects down the road.

The numbers still have to add up (and that means you have to save for the future toms junior). And you can always ask to be called "lead über head chief software architect" or anything that will make your résumé feel good about itself.

Posted by: slolernr on November 23, 2005 03:17 PM

Tom, it's probably not your president's conservatism that leads him to military contracts. That's where the money and jobs are!

Jon, nice personal attack. I think I've done well for myself and so my advice from personal experience is somewhat valuable. You may not like me, but it doesn't negate my experience.

Posted by: Teresa on November 23, 2005 03:23 PM

Now now, play nice, kids.

And teresa, you may be right. He's probably just chasing the money. He had a deliberate strategy of pursuing work for Republicans in Congress before that, though. I started this job typing in legacy press releases explaining how awful Bill Clinton is. Not good for my karma.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 03:25 PM

And slol, that sounds like really good advice to me. I'm tired of being in the technical wilderness. Peers would be good, and will probably end up helping me make money someday.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 03:27 PM

Take the other job. Just do it.

I know next to nothing about the tech industry, but I do know that government contracting work -- especially for DoD -- can be some of the most stultifyingly lucractive work out there.

Also worth considering: it seems like the advancement path in your current position is going to be linear. If you do well and make connections in a segment of the tech industry you actually want to be in, the growth seems more likely to be exponential.

Finally, someone in the comments said never take a new job for less than 15% more. That person has obviously never had a job that is soul-crushing. If job A and new job B pay equal amounts, but new job B is far more satisfying, there is no point, absolutely none, in sticking with job A. The argument gets more difficult as the pay for new job B decreases, but happiness is more valuable than money. 10000%.

Posted by: Kanishka on November 23, 2005 03:54 PM

I didn't say NEVER take a job for less than 15% more. I said that is a good rule of thumb. In an earlier comment, I also made concessions for career changes.

To set the record straight, I have had many soul crushing jobs, but at least I was compensated for it.

Posted by: Teresa on November 23, 2005 04:03 PM

Echoing some of the commenters:

(1) Can you take the hit to your salary, and still sock away enough $$ so that you won't regret it when you turn 30, having no savings? I ask b/c I remember reading someplace that if you saved some amount a year in your twenties, then, thru the magic of compound interest, that was better than saving the same amount from age 30 to 65. Obviously, this depended a lot on the interest rate, but the basic point about saving money even in your twenties still stands.

(2) THAT SAID: several people have said: "dude, if you don't do something you like, 'cos you like, -now-, when you have the most freedom you're ever going to have, then you will -never- do it". Frankly, speaking as somebody who's never taken the dangerous path, if you can make the money thing work so that you -still- save a decent percentage of your income, then I don't see why you wouldn't do it. I mean, you'll have the rest of your life to work hard at jobs you hate, eh?

Posted by: chet on November 23, 2005 04:08 PM

1) 15% more salary means 15% more blow/alcohol/gambling that is supposed to dull the pain of working in a mind-numbing environment. In Japan, it's very disgraceful to take a job for lower pay... then again I hear suicide rates are up. Have you ever seen Office Space? Keep the job with the high salary but just don't go to work. [Ok, this was the joke, the serious stuff is next]
2) Why are you only focusing on this one job? I wouldn't rush into it. Did you search around for other jobs? The job market is picking up again. A few more months at your job isn't going to kill you... is it? In the meantime, search for something with a higher pay and higher job satisfication.
3) I know a few people at Google. Unfortunately, the jobs aren't in DC. I also know someone at iRobot (http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=24&jobid=41). My contacts reach throughout the US. If you need a job hookup, I'll consider it a favor on behalf of Catherine. And then I'll own your soul... did I say that out loud?

Posted by: Tomas on November 23, 2005 04:19 PM

Well, this seems like the right job (except for the pay) at the right time. The timing is a big factor: the project I'm currently on is just awful, awful, awful. I think about quitting and walking off on a daily basis.

I could look around more. This is the first time I've come across a progressive DC-area company that's heavily focused on new media technologies, though.

I should not that I'm not just fleeing one particular project -- I think it's just a preview of things to come (and emblematic of past projects). But I do want to get out ASAP.

Posted by: tom on November 23, 2005 04:27 PM

I've done the Microsoft DoD software work for a few years now. I'm appreciated & I've done well too. But, if I got up most days dreading heading into PNT, I'd look for another job even if it did cut my pay.

Do the budget and include the 401-K matching as compensation (I hope the matching is at a reasonable level--some places are very cheap about that). If you aren't broke, do it.

Every job will be boring or worse at times. The glitter of shiny new tech will wear away. Even the pleasant co-workers won't be perfect. Still, it sounds better than what you are doing now. Take it.

Posted by: md 20/400 on November 23, 2005 05:25 PM

I've held off commenting. It wouldn't be a hard decision if there weren't downsides to both options, would it? We can't tell you what to do. You know more about these jobs than we do. You know more about yourself than we do.

Having said that.

There's a clear downside to staying in the DoD contracting business. Not just your distaste for it. The business itself unsuits you for non-DoD work. Stay too long and you'll never get out. And you seem to be in the worst end of the ghetto.

On the other hand.

DoD contracting is safe. The Navy is going to spend money for this sort of service until hell freezes over. The particular company you're working for may not keep this contract (is it set-aside? if so what happens when the company graduates?). But the combination of clearance and certs keeps your resume desirable as part of anyone's proposal: makes it clearly responsive from the point of view of the KO and COR. So someone else looking for this or a similar contract will always pick you up.

On the other hand.

Breaking out of the DoD ghetto gives you access to all the new shiny toys. You learn new stuff. You stay current. You feel better about your career, about yourself.

There's always the possibility of a real payday. You'll never get that in DoD contracting.

On the other hand.

It's a cold cruel world out there. Ask the people whose dot-coms crumbled underneath them and found there were too many people chasing too few jobs. There still are. Which is why you don't get a raise to join them.

For what it's worth, I faced the same sort of decision about twenty years ago and decided to stay, gradually working my way over to more interesting DoD stuff (DARPA-related, which got me into the new shiny toys). I still don't know whether I made the right decision.

And whatever decision you make, when you look back at it twenty years on, you won't know either. That's why it's hard.

Posted by: jim on November 23, 2005 08:14 PM

If you can swing the finances, I'd say go for it. With Google and some other big companies getting behind it, AJAX has a lot of promise as far as a marketable skill. There's a lot of talk about it right now but not too many people with hands on experience building solutions using it for a client. Even if you end up taking a pay cut for this job, with AJAX experience under your belt, if this doesn't work out, you can probably write your ticket for the next company you work for.

Like everything, I think it's all about how you present it in an interview. You could easily spin it into a positive by saying that you saw where technology was trending and felt you wanted to preposition yourself so you'd be ready when things changed. You're a strategic thinker who wants to find the best solutions for his clients and not just stick with outdated technology because it's comfortable, see, and don't you want someone like that working for your company? Also, Software Architect can be made to look like a lateral move instead of a step down if you emphasize that you still had a lot of responsibility, only that responsibility was refocused from managing others to taking sole/increased responsibility for design.

The pay cut sucks now but you could be better off taking one now to learn something like AJAX (and not burn out) than taking a job with another company doing something like ASP but with a raise. It's kind of an investment, like going back to grad school. And (IMO) PHP/Java/AJAX people tend to be groovier in general than MS/ASP people so your chances of being with cool people in the future is better, too.

Posted by: Becks on November 23, 2005 08:47 PM

Tom--

In 1991, I had a job earning six figures, working in a tech company in Germany, and I gave it up for one that paid about a quarter of that. Still haven't made up the difference in my annual salary. This probably sounds implausible, so I'll add a bit of context: I quit work to go to grad school. Lots of people find themselves in an analogous position, and they make the shift for the same reasons that your new job opportunity is so appealing: the chance to work with smart people on interesting projects, the chance to learn new stuff, the sheer novelty of the change. I'd go for it, myself. Money isn't everything. (In grad school, one of my friends had a JD from Harvard Law School. He said he'd rather live in a refrigerator box on the sidewalks in Boston than become a practicing lawyer, however; hence the career change.)

One bit of concrete advice: If you'll be working directly under the new company's CTO, he may have some pull internally that would be sufficient to get you a nice impressive job title for your resume. I'd guess many companies would be perfectly willing to add a fancy title to the perks they're offering, as an alternative to cash.

Posted by: RSA on November 23, 2005 11:12 PM

ABORT! ABORT! NO! DON'T DO IT!

I realise I am something of an all-weather blowhard, but please take me seriously on this subject. This phrase is the giveaway.

>The new place is a consultancy founded by tech folks from one of the major '04 Democratic presidential campaigns. They do a lot of stuff with progressive politics, and are a young, savvy staff.

You are working on the assumption that this is synonymous with "they are not assholes". It is not.

At the very least, promise me that before you leave, you will endeavour to find three (3) persons currently employed in firms (companies or non-profits) owned or run by people with "progressive" politics, who are happy in their job.

You'll find this surprisingly hard. It's an empirical generalisation that folks of the left, like churchy types, all too often operate a mental double life which allows them to keep their global "do no evil" going in tandem with their local "all evil, all the time" behaviour.

There is nothing more reckless than to move to a new job for the reason that you might end up making friends with the people who are there. Might happen, might not, bookie's choice would be "not". Nobody's that desperate for friends. Take up roller derby or something.

Do your job, and do good for the world in your spare time. Don't try to combine the two. I think that there are a couple of good passages in Marx to this effect.

Posted by: dsquared on November 24, 2005 06:43 PM

A fair point. They may be a nest of vipers; I certainly don't have enough evidence to know. But I don't like working with my current coworkers, and I hate my job -- that much I know.

And I know that every email I get from work makes me feel sick to my stomach with the sheer awfulness of it. I have to quit; that I have someplace to go that I am, for now at least, excited about is just a bonus.

Posted by: tom on November 24, 2005 07:49 PM

And, for the record, I'm not looking for friends. My fondness for the internet notwithstanding, I have plenty of friends. I'm looking for contacts and people I can learn from.

Posted by: tom on November 24, 2005 07:53 PM

And thanks to everyone for the advice. Jim, your personal account was particularly helpful. I think I'd like to try something new. This job may not itself be ideal, but I think it will open up much better opportunities down the road.

Besides, the Xbox 360 is getting mediocre reviews, so it turns out that I don't need more disposable income anyway.

Posted by: tom on November 25, 2005 01:55 PM

I may too late to this party, but:

Do it. Take the new job. *Anything* is better than spending half your waking hours in mind-numbing, soul-sucking drudgery, no matter how much money you're making.

If you think it's crazy, consider what I did. I switched from a Microsoft consulting position to a position at a nonprofit and took something on the order of a 40% pay cut. Then I bought a house I couldn't afford. Then I had a second kid.

Why did I do such insane things, which put me in a very tight financial situation? Quality of life.

I shit you not: I wake up every day, get on my knees, and thank GOD (who I don't even believe in!) I did what I did. I'm so much happier. I love my job. I love my family. I love my house. I'm happy as a pig in shit every day, even though I can't even afford cable TV.

You're a smart guy. The money stuff will work itself out. So will the career stuff.

Go for quality of life, every time.

Posted by: Realish on November 26, 2005 05:44 PM

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