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Company Loyalty and career decisions

FozwazerusFozwazerus Registered User regular
edited October 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I have some questions regarding work that require a little back story:

I am a relatively fresh graduate with an MS in mechanical engineering. I moved to a town with absolutely no industry (tourist town) and couldn't find a job that I wanted for 6 months. There were a few interviews and one offer that I didn't accept (shitty "engineer" position in a factory 1 hour away.) I was getting desperate, so I started interviewing for anything that I had skills for: CAD positions, teaching positions (I've been a TA twice), and basically anything that required a degree. I went in for a CAD draftsman interview with a guy who owned a small engineering contracting company. When I got into the interview, he asked me why someone with my degree would move to that particular town, because there were absolutely no engineers there. He basically hired me on the spot (few more interviews after) for whatever reason (lack of other candidates or me being awesome, I don't really know/care) and I was friggin ecsatic. When we were "negotiating" pay, I gave him some numbers of what I would expect and he added 10 grand to it (I bid high because I was expecting 10k LESS). As a fresh grad, I was making 100th percentile for my graduating class. He sent me off to a job site to work for 6 months, making my salary and overtime AND per diem (money for living expenses that I get to spend as I see fit.)

The problem: I am not doing any engineering work. I am basically working as a CPA in the power industry. I like making ridiculous amounts of money, but I want to start learning some real engineering skills. I sit at a computer looking at spreadsheets and calculating costs all day. It is really a bore and not what I wanted to do with my career.

I recently found a company that is willing to train me to be a construction supervisor because of my new-found intimate knowledge of the money side of the power industry, my technical degree, and my willingness to travel to job sites. I would be getting paid about the same but learning the skills that I actually want to learn. As of right now I know almost nothing of the actual mechanics of a power plant. I walk the plants and have no idea what this valve or this pump is or how this turbine works- it is kind of pathetic in my mind. This company is another contractor that I am working side by side with currently, so hiring on to them would be a breach of ... something? I know the general rule is that you don't hire your contractors, but I am working with these guys, not for them. We are both contractors for the same power plant. Is there anything wrong with this?

So cue 8 months later, still making awesome money, not progressing in the direction that I want to go career wise. I could make a career out of what I am doing, and the top guys doing what I do are making 60+ base hourly, but I would rather be doing something technical. I could go work for this other contracting company as a construction supervisor, but I feel like I owe loyalty to my current boss. He has been nothing but awesome in regards to, well, everything. EXCEPT: He is a PE (professional engineer) but he isn't really teaching me any engineering. The work I am doing does not count towards my 3 required years experience for my PE license, and I really want to get that. He has said that he would have engineering work for me eventually, but I keep getting these same jobs. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into this.

I guess my biggest caveat is that I don't want to abandon the guy who threw me a huge friggin meaty bone when I was starving. It would be the best career move ever, but I feel like I owe him for getting me on my feet when I was so desperate, and not even taking advantage of me in my bad situation. Honestly, I would have taken so much less than what he is paying me.

SOOOOOOOO H/A, does anyone have any insight into my situation? What would you do? Sign on with the new company and learn what you want to learn without giving up any moolahs? Stay with current company and keep doing what I am, eventually becoming a powerhouse of both income and boredom? Donate all my money to whoever most satisfactorily answers this post?

Fozwazerus on


  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    This might be a good time to lay your cards on the table instead of holding them close to your chest. Lay your concerns out to your supervisor, tell him about the other offer, and see where he takes things.

    Grid System on
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    If you want the job take the job.
    I guess my biggest caveat is that I don't want to abandon the guy who threw me a huge friggin meaty bone when I was starving

    Well, doesn't matter how good a guy he is, he'd fire your ass if he had to. If you want to be nice then give proper notice and offer to train your replacement. Maybe even have a chat with him to see if there's any opportunities for what you want to do at your current company.
    so hiring on to them would be a breach of ... something?

    Read any materials you signed when you were hired. Consult a lawyer.

    Monolithic_Dome on
  • lizard eats flieslizard eats flies Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    you dont owe your company anything. That doesnt mean be a dick, but it doesnt mean you should gimp your opportunities because you feel some debt to them. Its a hard thing and people tend to personalize it, but truth is you have to look out for whats in your best interest.
    The only thing i would worry about is the working for another contractor thing, as mentioned check that to make sure its not a breech of the something.

    But I say go for it, if its what you want. Make sure you thank your current employer for treating you well. Make sure you give plenty of notice, perhaps offering to stay on to help train in the next guy etc. But other than that, you dont owe them anything.

    lizard eats flies on
  • FozwazerusFozwazerus Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Yea I didn't sign any no-compete contracts or anything. I will reread that documentation anyways.

    I was more learning towards breach of ethics kind of thing. An "is this a dick move?" kind of thing.

    Fozwazerus on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Talk to your current boss. The worst he can do is fire you. Maybe you can sort out something? If not, you could be nice by giving plenty of notice and offering to train your replacement.

    CelestialBadger on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    you know, if he wasn't still making money off of your labor, he wouldn't have paid you what he's paying you. howeverm uch you're making - there are people in the org making plenty more, especially your boss.

    kaliyama on
  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Take the job. Tell your current boss how much you've appreciated the opportunities he's given you, how awesome he is, blah blah blah. People quit their jobs all the time, and for far less reason and in a more dick-headed way than you (ie, no notice, or stealing, or whatever). This is a great opportunity for you, and he'll understand (and if he doesn't, so what?)

    I worked for this company filled with awesome people (well, tiny office, all 4 people there were awesome though) this summer on a term position, and when my contract was up and I had another job, I realized how awesome the other place was so I'm volunteering to help out at their annual conference this weekend (non profit company, so they do a conference every year sort of like a shareholders meeting). Anywho, the point is that you can still be in contact with your past employer and even help out here and there (though, check the contract with the new co in regards to competition and suchlike, even if on a volunteer basis) and be appreciative in all sorts of ways.

    ihmmy on
  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Company loyalty means nothing in this day and age. It's great your boss has given you opportunities previously, but this is work, the job market. It'll be clear to your boss that you're not just jumping ship for slightly better pay - you have a genuine reason to take this other job. Go for it.

    Æthelred on
    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2008
    Take the job. Just don't make it a continuous habit or you'll look like a job hopper. No one expects a kid out of college to stick around on his/her first job too long anymore.

    PeekingDuck on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Fozwazerus wrote: »
    Yea I didn't sign any no-compete contracts or anything. I will reread that documentation anyways.

    I was more learning towards breach of ethics kind of thing. An "is this a dick move?" kind of thing.

    Not at all. Allowing your current company to match salary or benifits is a favor to them. So ask the great boss to get you doing what you want and tell him about the offer. The balls in his court then.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Leaving your job for a better offer is not a "dick" move. Carreers are not built on loyalty and friendship. They are built on cold, hard money.

    Do not expect your current company to hesistate a quarter of second to fire you if you being to cost them more than they want.

    Do not expect any sympathy from your boss, from your HR, from your hierarchy if things turn ugly somehow.

    Do expect however, that they will fully understand the postion you're in, because frankly, it happens alllll the time. Be bluntly honest about it, give your 2 weeks, or whatever that is, and move on to a better place (well, better salary, at any rate).

    In a way i really envy you for not having ever been dump like toilet paper for economical costs...i really wish i would ask myself those kind of questions again... Oh well.

    PaperPritt on
  • FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Generally - Jobs are no longer like they were. Its not expected for you to stay with one company for your entire career. I operate a policy of complete openness with my employers, recognising that experience and even a better job-title are like currency in the grand scheme of my career. Most bosses appreciate the honesty.

    The old saying of "Better to be half way up a ladder that you want to be on, rather than at the top of one you dont" springs to mind.

    Fallingman on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    Take the job, give notice if possible.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I say keep the current job but see if there is someway to keep your hand in the technical area. Have a discussion with your boss and see if there is anyway to give you any technical work while doing your core job

    Reasons for this are:

    1. If you get a solid block of experience in this job then you should be able to get other similar jobs if you have to do so and 8 months might not be enough to allow you to change employers/locations. This is a risk mitigation strategy just in case either 1) you hate/suck at the technical stuff you trained for or 2) economic necessity forces you back into a better paying field OR the recession hits and construction work collapses*

    2. You've already seen how useful having this non University training related experience is for getting jobs you actually trained for or want to get, so imagine how useful it might be in a year or so.
    I did something similar to you when I graduated with my Masters, I decided to work outside of my profession for a large ITT company, in their commercial division. Now that I've returned/taken up the profession I've trained for a couple of years later this experience has made me far more effective than I think I would have been if I'd gone straight into it.

    3. Commercial training is always useful when allied with a non commercial/financial profession - see 2.

    4. With most professions you have a little bit of leeway before your qualification starts to lose its lustre. I have no idea how long this is with your field, but hopefully you should be able to spend 1-2 years working in a different field before it starts to hurt your engineering prospects.

    On the other hand, if engineering is your vocation then you are probably always going to be unhappy until you give it a good try.

    *There have been substantial job losses in this sector in the UK - no idea what it is like in your area.

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't think you should keep your job out of company loyalty.

    However, if you have a lot of college debt and the other job doesn't pay as much as your current job, why not wait a year or two and pay off some of that debt before getting a different job?

    LadyM on
  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Fuck company loyalty. They'd fuck you if they thought they needed to.

    I understand being loyal to your coworkers/immediate supervisor, though.

    Give him 2-week's notice, explain that it's a good opportunity for you, thank him for what he's done for you, and shake his hand. You will have satisfied honor.

    GungHo on
  • MrMonroeMrMonroe passed out on the floor nowRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Get the other company to make you an offer, go to your current boss and tell him you're not satisfied with the work you're getting. Tell him what you want to be doing, and that you've been offered a position with another company doing exactly that. The guy will either give you the work, tell you he's sorry but there's nothing he can do right now, or offer you a pay raise to buy you back and promise to get you the right position soon. Any of these responses will be a net gain for you.

    MrMonroe on
  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Theres no harm in being up front with your boss, especiallly since he's done right by you so far. I wouldn't underhand him, but give him the opportunity to provde something your passionate about.

    Also, it sounds very much like your on the road to being project manager in which you don't need to know fuck all about the 'how' just the finances about hiring the people that do. You need to know enough about engineering to know when someone is blowing smoke up your ass, but as for the nitty gritty- well, thats what peons are for dude.

    Are you sure you want to be the peon? Because from the sounds of it you're working in a position to teach you the business of engineering, and at the end of the road, that's going to be far more valuable. Being in the engineering trade, and running an engineering company are two completely different things, just make sure youre after what your long term goals are. I mean, you can always make bajillions and build model bridges to scale in your basement, yah?

    Sarcastro on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'll concur with most here: give as much notice as possible (more than two weeks would be fantastic), offer to work with him training a replacement, and explain that it's not about the money but rather the work experience. But I'd definitely jump on this opportunity.

    mcdermott on
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