I'm due to be starting my first real job out of education in 3 weeks time, but I've been having some second thoughts about it. The job pays less than the equivalent role in almost every other firm, but I had taken it because it seemed to offer two compensating benefits: shorter hours and more interesting work. At the time of applying I wasn't sure exactly what role I would receive, but these are characteristics of the firm in general (shorter hours and more interesting work).

However, a couple of months ago I was given more detail about my role and these benefits now seem to be negated. It seems that my hours will be just as long as those in other firms, and from what I was told, it seems that the work will be less interesting and there will be less ability to develop skills that are essential to progress in my line of work. These seem to be disadvantages of my role specifically, not the organisation as a whole, so I just seem to have drawn a short straw.

The lack of interesting work and skills development worries me a lot more than the hours. For instance I worry that if I want to move elsewhere after my three year contract finishes, I would not have the same level of required skills as others would after three years.

However, I'm not sure of any of this. These are just my own inferences given what I've been told and what I've managed to find out from others, and none of that has been concrete. I would say that there is a 40-50% chance that the work will actually be interesting and challenging.

As such, I'm wondering what the best way to proceed is? I have a one month notice period once I start - would it be unprofessional to work for 2-3 months and if my suspicions are confirmed (and I can't negotiate any improvements) to then quit? (One point to note here is that it is essential for them that they have someone in my role at all times and so the transition period would probably be a pain for them). I'm aware that it's probably better for them if I quit now (and I wouldn't have to explain the short period of employment or lose as much reputation in the industry), but there is a significant chance that the role would actually be a good fit for me, and I can't really know unless I try.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

(edit: I forgot to mention a couple of points:

  • Spending an extended period of time (3-12 months) without a job isn't a problem for me financially, and the few companies I've spoken with before have said they wouldn't mind the gap in the CV after education.

  • My industry is fairly incestuous, and getting a new job is my main worry when it comes to quitting. When browsing through firms that offer equivalent roles, I've seen quite a few people who have worked at the firm I'm supposed to be starting at. I don't know if reputation ruining happens often with people who quit early? And would 'I wasn't learning/being challenged enough' be a valid explanation if asked by any new employed why I quit early? Whereas if I quit before starting, I would presumably avoid a lot of this.)

  • I think your question will be closed as its off topic. Have you considered career counseling ? – happybuddha Sep 20 '13 at 15:21
  • Apply for other jobs. If they hire you, then obviously the short stay is not a problem. You can't help it if you were hired under certain conditions and then the company changed them. – user8365 Sep 20 '13 at 21:07
  • @happybuddha - do you mean the college provided service? I've tried that but they weren't very useful. Certainly less useful than these replies! – Anon87 Sep 22 '13 at 2:09
  • @JeffO - yes, I guess applying while working is the best thing to do, I'd avoid the 'blacklisting' but I'd still have to explain why I want to leave early. And if the new firm has staff who have links with the old firm, could it not be risky if they tell the old firm what I'm up to? – Anon87 Sep 22 '13 at 2:11

If you feel the role you are assigned to is not what you anticipated, feel free to look for other work. But if you have not found it before starting the job, then go ahead and take it and stay at least a year.

First you have to learn to navigate the real world of professional work. This job will teach you that even if it is not the perfect job. (Hint there are no perfect jobs, you have to make compromises in all of them just like there are no perfect relationships). Technical things are about 10% of what you will learn in your first job.

The first thing you have to learn is that it cannot always be interesting work, but if you want the interesting work, you have to do a good job at the uninteresting stuff you are actually assigned to do. Why would a company want to give the better work to someone unless he or she has shown that they will get good work from this person? Entry level people almost always get the least interesting work because they are the least valuable.

Next lesson is that your assignment is not set in concrete. You don't have to be stuck there forever in that particular company. It appears that other jobs are more interesting, so you can transfer to them later. If it is still the copmany you want to work for, consider that as a valid way to get your foot in the door. Then make contacts in the area you want to be in and after a suiotable period (most companies want you to wait 6 months before competing internally for other jobs), then apply for and get the job you want. As a known quantity, you often have improved chances over an outsider in compteing for a job unless what they know about you is not positive.

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  • Thank you for your answer, I'll try to reply to your points: - I'm aware that entry level people dont get the best work, but I know many people from the same course as me who have secured entry-level work that I would call 'interesting'. - Is there any reason you think I should stay a year apart from "even if it's not ideal, you'll still learn something". That is, do you think I'd be 'blacklisted' in the industry if I quit early? - I've found out that I would have to stay in my role for at least a year before being able to move. – Anon87 Sep 22 '13 at 1:57
  • I think in the early stages of your career that quitting early is a far bigger black mark than doing uninteresting work. – HLGEM Sep 23 '13 at 13:00

As such, I'm wondering what the best way to proceed is?

There is no "best" way - just ways that may work out well for you.

I usually advise friends and family to choose their first job out of school wisely, then to plan on sticking around for at least 2 years. That way, they truly know more about life, about working, and about what they want out of a job, and if that job fits their needs.

In your case, if you have truly concluded that this upcoming position doesn't meet your needs and you truly aren't pressed to find a job quickly, then I'd suggest declining it, and re-opening your job search. For the next position, dig in a bit deeper so that you will understand what you are getting into before accepting the position. You don't want to start to appear "flighty" to potential employers.

At the same time, I'm wondering about the points you say you value the most - shorter hours and more interesting work.

I always advise first time workers to strive for opportunities where they can learn and advance the most - I've found in the long run that pays off.

Usually, however, that means that new workers must plan to work hard, and that seldom means "shorter hours". Harder workers can learn more, can demonstrate their value as employees better, and in my opinion, put themselves in better positions in the long run.

If you go into a job search with the approach that "I don't want to work long hours" you will certainly be limiting your possibilities. During an interview, that can often come off as "I don't want to work hard" - even if that is not your intent.

Interesting work, on the other hand, is a great thing to strive for. Having passion for your work makes the hard (and perhaps longer) work fly by. Over the years, I've found that I want to work harder for a career when I'm passionate about it. Would it be worth it to work a few more hours at something you really enjoy? It is for me.

The challenge of "interesting" however is that it's very hard for someone who hasn't worked in a field before to really know if it will be interesting or not. Only once you are fully involved will you truly know that it's interesting to you.

Tough choices here, and ones that only you can make. Only you know what you are looking for, and only you are really in a position to know if the upcoming job has the potential to meet your needs or not.

Good luck!

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  • Thank you for the answer! You're right - shorter hours is pretty dumb of me to say and I retract that. My main concern is acquiring necessary skills on the job (even just Excel), so that I can successfully compete with other candidates later on. This is easier to judge than 'interesting'. The issue is less about me knowing what I want, and more that I don't know exactly what the role entails, and won't unless I work there at least a few months. Doing that is more of a risk if quitting after only a couple of months would make it tougher for me to get a new job (eg being 'blacklisted'). – Anon87 Sep 22 '13 at 2:06

Generally, 'one's first real job' is never all that satisfying. Pretty much you're learning your way around the business environment as well as developing professional skills. Probably your first lesson in all of this is that people will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to sign up.

It isn't clear what you're doing - if it's software work you can do plenty of that on your own. One of the sayings of programming students is 'to learn something, it's better to understand it in advance'. What's left out of that is 'learning' is in the formal environment of the classroom. 'Understanding' comes from fooling around with stuff you've never used, don't know anything about, is brand new, and is downloaded free from some trial version site. If you're not being challenged at work, challenge yourself.

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  • Thank you for the advice! It's not software work, but programming skills are among those that I'm hoping to pick up. You're right I can learn them on my own, but if my assessment of the hours are accurate, that would be pretty tough. And why do that if I can find a job that allows me to learn them during the job? – Anon87 Sep 22 '13 at 2:07

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