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I am a recent graduate who started a new job about a month and a half ago. The job ended up being different from what I expected and what I was led to believe by recruiters, and I want to find a new job more in line with my career prospects. The company has spent significant amount of money relocating me; I did not have to spend a single cent out of pocket for relocation purposes that was not reimbursed in some way. I signed an agreement that I would pay back these expenditures if I voluntarily left within 6 months of deposit (about 5.5 months from today; I've been working for 6 weeks).

I am currently in the process of finding a new job, but I do not know the exact amount of money I would owe to my current employer if I quit. I am worried that asking about this will indicate to the company that I am planning on leaving, which may have consequences. Is it a bad idea to ask my company how much money I would owe if I left within the time frame of this contract?

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    Wait - you signed an agreement to pay back expenses, without knowing how much is at stake? It's too late now obviously, but please realize that it is rarely advisable to sign something where the financial consequences are not clear. – sleske Aug 28 at 8:47
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First off, if it had consequences they wouldn't affect you, other than that you'd either be terminated (so you wouldn't owe the money), or they might just make your life miserable.

The best win-win solution is for you to have a frank discussion with your employer and explain that the job isn't what you were looking for, or wasn't what you thought it was. Say that you want to stay, if the job was what you were looking for. Unless it isn't, because you're in the completely wrong field.

One of the things about being early in your career is that what you think the career is, often isn't what it is. For example, I thought being a software engineer was a lot of coding. It wasn't. Once I did figure out what being a software engineer was all about, I learned that it was about even more than that. I rolled with the tide and became even better at what a software engineer is, and now I'm an old lady with a long career that I've loved.

So. Advice time? Hold off doing anything rash for the time being. Ask others in your field what being in your field is about. Understand that people early in their careers really do change jobs, and really do learn that it isn't what you likely thought it was when you were in college. If this approach doesn't work, THEN go talk with the boss and share your ambitions and see if something can be done to align your ambitions and the company's needs.

  • I had an internship last summer at a place where I did what I imagined SWE would be like, so I am approaching this position with that perspective. And although my current job revolves around software, I wouldn't call it SWE: I am discouraged from coding in favor of GUI-based configuration, and it's very difficult for me to see how any skills I learn in this position can be applied outside of this company. I don't think SWE is the wrong field for me, but rather that I accidentally got caught in a closely-related field. – Nick Silvestri Aug 27 at 23:55
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    @NickSilvestri Sounds like you are using graphical programming over the standard code based programming. Software Engineering is a very very very broad field. if you want something more specific, then you will need to look into jobs that use certain languages and frameworks rather than Software Engineering in general. – Shadowzee Aug 28 at 0:44
  • +1, This is your best course of action, the employer doesn't want someone in the position who isn't happy, and will likely terminate you as a result of your conversation. Just make sure they terminate you and you don't resign. Based on what you've said about your agreement, they will be responsible for the relocation, not you. – Jay Aug 28 at 13:47
  • @NickSilvestri - Software Engineering is about learning how to convince rather stupid pieces of silicon to do things which make them look smart. As such, it's really hard not to learn something. You don't say what kind of GUI it is, but I've used GUIs for all sorts of things and some of those skills did translate back to "how to get chips to do stuff." – Julie in Austin Aug 28 at 17:22
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So you mentioned that your 6 months relocation re-payment clause is 6 months from when you got it, which is 5.5 months from today.

You're only half a month / 6 weeks in as a new graduate, in which case I don't think you really know what the role in your current company will be yet. A business isn't very likely to drop a new starter into a large scale project, or give them a big juicy piece of work, especially not a graduate with little to no practical experience. They'll want you to start fitting in, see what strengths or weaknesses you have outside of what you mentioned in an interview, etc.

Unless the role you're in is completely different i.e. hired to be a developer, but you're doing admin payroll for the salaries department, then I'd personally recommend giving it time and having open conversations with your manager. It can be around 6 months before you're fully up and running in a new business.

  • Good words, I changed jobs two years ago and absolutely hated it for the first month. My spouse encouraged me to stay the course and not quit, now I love working there. – Jay Aug 28 at 13:49
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Is it a bad idea to ask my company how much money I would owe if I left within the time frame of this contract?

It is a bad idea to ask such a thing and it can only hurt your relationships at work.

Have you thought about the possibility that what you've done in the first two weeks of the job is not 100% of the job? If it were me, I would give the job more time. Two weeks at a job is typically not enough time to fully gauge the type of work you will be doing for that job.

However if you truly don't want to work there, then continue searching for a new job and say nothing until you have another job offer in writing and signed. Only then would I say it would be ok to ask about paying back the relocation cost.

  • I have been at this job for 6 weeks, not 2 (the 5.5 months I referred to was how much longer I have to stay to not be required to reimburse). I was starting to get the impression this wasn't a good fit 3 or 4 days in, but decided to stick it out longer to see if it got better. – Nick Silvestri Aug 27 at 23:47
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If there is no amount written in the agreement then you should be able to calculate what got reimbursed and then you know how much you would owe. Maybe it is staged so every month you have to return less, but just calculate the full amount and see if that is fine for you to pay back. If it's less in the end, it's even better for you.

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