So I received an offer for a research assistant position that I need to respond to by the end of the week. I am in an awkward situation, however, where I had already started a position a little over two months ago and have barely finished training, partly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I feel the offer I have just received would be a better fit for me career-wise, except the timing of the offer has me debating if I should just accept it and leave my current job so soon, or turn it down and potentially re-apply when the timing improves.

Stay at current job:

  • Won't burn bridges so quickly, and will be able to get a better feel of the current company and what working in a regular (consulting) job will feel like
  • More desirable location (closer to family) and roughly 10K more salary
  • Not as relevant, career-wise as opposed to the other job, uncertain about potential projects that I'll be placed on and relevant skills gained

Take the other offer:

  • Potentially leaving a company after only 2-3 months, barely even getting to experience what the other company is like
  • Pays less, is a short-term appointment, would most likely require relocation to not as desirable of a location (very remote suburb), and unsure about start date, especially given the ongoing pandemic
  • Potentially more relevant as to what I want to pursue in the future, as I hope to eventually go to grad school

Currently, I'm unsure as to how I should handle the situation. Part of me wants to take the offer because it could potentially help me gain valuable experience as to what I want to do in the future; on the other hand, I'm not sure that leaving my current job so soon would be the best idea or reflection on myself and I'm wondering if I'm better off not accepting the offer now or trying to negotiate as far as the start date goes.

  • Update: Thanks everyone, including @Michael McFarlane for the answer. After giving it a weeks worth of thought, I decided now would not be the best time to accept, especially considering my circumstances. I called to let them know I'd be willing to consider such opportunities in the future, especially since this seemed like such a great offer, but declined the offer and chose to stay at my current job.
    – Daveguy
    May 6, 2020 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


Given the cons of the research assistant position, and failing to honor your current commitment, I suggest declining the offer. Explain that you have a responsibility now, and that you'd like to consider reapplying in the future.

Research assistanceships are really hit or miss in my experience-- you could do exciting research for a caring advisor, or be a lab monkey for a jerk.

While you may still be getting a feel for the other company, they are sticking with you through the pandemic and making the investment in training you. This tells you something. You should stick with them and if you are a valued employee, they should be willing to find avenues for you to gain more skills. If not, in the future, you'd be justified in leaving. Also, since you are a consultant, quitting on them now would be quite bad for your future prospects because you'd be out a reference and have to explain in future interviews that you broke a commitment.

  • ">Research assistantships are really hit or miss in my experience-- you could do exciting research for a caring advisor, or be a lab monkey for a jerk." Do you mean in a specific type of environment (national labs included), or just in general?
    – Daveguy
    May 4, 2020 at 1:18
  • My experience comes from meeting grad students in my and other grad schools, and reading stories from SE, which are disproportionately from the worst cases. Perhaps in your specific case, you can allay any uncertainty. May 4, 2020 at 2:01
  • Makes sense. I shouldn't be surprised by your answer, as I have heard things about politics going on in academia, and as it happens, in other research institutions, but I am worried about the implications that not having the extra research experience would have on being able to get into grad school/PhD
    – Daveguy
    May 4, 2020 at 18:10

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