tl;dr: I am miserable at my current programming job due to management and endless mandatory overtime. I have an opportunity in RPA but love programming, is it feasible to take a break from programming career-wise and then potentially return to it?
Backstory: I am a junior level engineer working on a project in C# (for frontend) and in C (for backend). Job duties include research, writing a design specification, programming, delivering it to quality assurance, and then fixing bugs. I've been working at the company for two years and am making $62,400. Pretty low for the state I live in, partly because I was hired as a Front End Developer... This is my first job after college (other jobs I've had are two internships, first one being in IT as an administrator and the second being in C# over my senior year Summer).
Recently, due to fairly poor management choices, the loss of two resources, and no senior level engineers, my team has had to work 3 hours of extra mandatory overtime (so 8:30AM-8PM) every day except Friday. Management has no end date for this overtime and has said "this will continue until we get out of this hole". Management has also restricted working from home unless you get direct approval and explain what you will be working on and then demonstrate the next day what you've achieved. The situation is a bit more complex but that's the gist of it. Since we are salaried, the only compensation we get is free dinner within a budget. Interesting side note is that when I was hired in 2017, the director told me that they were doubling the team in size by the end of the year. It's two years later and all that happened was we lost two senior resources and gained two junior resources.
This has triggered me to start job hunting and wanting to get out of there urgently, which proves to be a bit harder when you're working mandatory overtime.
Note: I understand that I will never escape overtime. The reason for me leaving is that the overtime will go on for an unspecified duration (could be months), management has handled the situation very poorly, and the highest ranking member has stated, numerous times, that "if you don't like it here, then leave".
I have an interview next week with a large Fortune 500 company for an RPA developer role. I have reason to believe that there is a high chance for me to get an offer, and that the salary that has been decided is $72,800 ($10,400 more than my current position). This job likely barely involves any programming and instead just designing/building automation bots in software like BluePrism and UIPath. The job is contract to hire (1 year contract) and I was told that after being hired, my salary would range from $75K-$85K.
I love programming... so my plan was to take the job, start hobby programming a lot more, and just do a great job designing bots in RPA. My entire career has been in automation anyway. Within that year contract, I can constantly do additional job hunting for a more solid programming position, but am scared that I will spend too much time away from professional programming to be considered for any true programming position. A bonus to taking the job is that I can finally move in with my SO as it is much closer to where she lives.
Question: Is this a bad move? Do I just battle through the endless overtime and hope it ends soon? Do I go along with my plan?