in Personal

You Opinion Needed (Job Advice…)

Ok, I already know this will be quite a long post…I’m going to tell you all about my current job situation and I would really like to hear your thoughts on this if you have a moment. (Just wanted to let you know up front this isn’t a short post…)

Alrighty, well, my current employment is through the MBA office at school. I was hired on as a project manager for an online learning system that was being developed as an educational tool as well as a recruiting tool. Last semester, the director of the MBA program was moved to a different position and with that change, the project, which was the reason I was hired on and the reason I decided to come to work for the MBA office, was canceled. When I was hired by the MBA office, I had a higher paying job that wasn’t bad at all and provided me with excellent real world experience. Well, I took the MBA job because I really believed in the project I was going to manage and even though the pay was lower (around $10000 difference in benefits…things like it didn’t pay tuition, a little lower effective hourly rate, etc.) I decided I really wanted to be part of the project for a lot of reasons. Just this week, I got a new job assignment since the project is no more…I’m now going to basically be making a small access database work and probably doing data entry for admissions applications into the database for 20 hours a week for about a month and then I will most likely do the same thing for each of the different areas of the MBA office (like alumni database, recruiting database, etc.).

I basically feel that my job isn’t the same job I signed on to last semester…I get paid the same, but now I don’t build my technical skills nor do I build anything usable on my resume nor is it something I find remotely fun or interesting….so I started looking around campus for other opportunities that might be better. I normally wouldn’t do that, but there are some other personal reasons that I felt I should at least look around to see what is out there. (BTW, I’m only looking at campus jobs because I have to be as flexible as possible for my classes because the MIS concentration is quite demanding…so the more flexible the better). As a result, I have three different choices (w/ ratings for four areas with more * meaning better):

1.) Stay where I am and do the limited database design and probably data entry. As I said before, I gain no technical abilities (I don’t even keep my current abilities updated), no resume worthy experience, and no pay raise.
Flexibility: ***
Pay: **
Enjoyment: *
Free Time: ***

2.) Move to Student Services Information Services. This is where Robert works and it is a combination of about 30% helpdesk / end user support + %70 programming. By programming, it would be updating scripts in ASP because of database changes etc, some upgrading of ASP scripts to ASP.NET, and then a little web application programming to support some new things happening around there. Basically this wouldn’t be a big resume builder, but it does make sure I keep my technical skills in use to some degree. The only thing is that it really isn’t flexible and the pay is lower than I get now.
Flexibility: *
Pay: *
Enjoyment: **
Free Time: **

3.) Work for the Alabama Productivity Center, which is where I worked as a developer and project manager before coming to the MBA office. Basically I would be working on a couple of small-medium size consulting projects…but I would probably be a developer instead of a project manager because I am required to have an internship this summer and they wouldn’t want me to get involved with a client only to leave for 3 months during the summer. The pay is great there and the experience is quite good. I would get the chance to build up my skill set a bit too.
Flexibility: **
Pay: ***
Enjoyment: ***
Free Time: *

I’ve pretty much reasoned out going with #2…I’d like to go there because I would get to work with Robert and together we really knock out programming things so I know we could make a big impact on that department, but the pay is quite low with no promises for an increase while I’m here. They really need a good programmer there, but they aren’t willing (or maybe able…but it’s more willing) to change things to be able to at least pay me the same as my current position and they are quite resistant to change (for example, some things are written in ASP and they would be much better from a business value perspective if they were written in ASP.NET for many reasons…but they simply won’t change so things take longer than needed and end up with shoddy results). With that said, my choice is basically between #1 and #3 now (although #3 hasn’t officially offered a job, I think there is a good chance they will find something because they told me right up front they would like to be able to get me back on staff).

Even though #3 looks the best from a lot of angles, #1 does have some hidden benefits…it’s really flexible in that I can take care of things when I want to to a large degree…there is still some required time during the day that I just have to be there, but it’s still the most flexible of the bunch and it’s easily the “easiest” job of the bunch. Because of that, I would have much more time to focus on doing things I’ve wanted to do…specifically, I can work on some of the imaging cup projects I want to and I can really get into creating the software company I’ve always wanted to build…but if I go with #3, I probably won’t be able to do the imagine cup (I might be able to, but there is a really good chance I wouldn’t have enough time to complete the entry.) and I would not have any time at all do dedicate to building the software company.

Bottom line: Do I decide to get a pay increase, build up resume experience, and give up my dreams (EDIT: ok, that’s a little strong…give up my dreams for another year and a half is more accurate) of having a company and being in the imagine cup or do I keep the lower paying job, put up with “grunt” work, but develop myself the way I want to?

What would you do in a situation like this? Any advice at all would be very helpful…I know in the end, I’m the only one that can make the choice, but I want to make sure I’m considering everything I ought to be since this choice is going to effect the next 2 years of my life and have repercussions for much longer than that.