Author Topic: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.  (Read 2568 times)

anastrophe

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Here’s my situation: for the last six years, I have worked part-time (30 hours / 80% FTE) in an office doing various administrative things. It's an OK job but I'm not in love with it.

Job pros:
  • Office is very comfortable—good coworkers, natural light and plants, supportive culture
  • Extremely good benefits (state employee)
  • Very occasionally the work is interesting.
Job cons:
  • Interesting work is pretty rare
  • Stuck in a cubicle
  • Good for a job, but not a career I want to continue.
  • Right now, things at work are stressful because we are hiring a new boss.
Sticky factor: a few years back I began working on a part-time masters’ degree, paid for by my employer, in a different field than I currently work. This second field is interesting to me but I’ve realized that it’s not immediately/at all lucrative (too late now). If I want to switch to this new career, I will probably need to spend some time volunteering, doing internships, etc, which all take time. Also, I still have to write my masters’ thesis if I want to finish my degree which is a pretty big side project when you work even part-time.

My job is asking me to go up to full-time and I need to decide in the next week or two. Apparently I am a more valuable member of the team than I thought, and they want me to come up to full time before my new boss arrives.

Full-time pros:
  • 20% increase in salary, I think this would be about $600 gross per month
  • Increase in responsibility (but probably more projects, not a title change).
  • Closer to vesting in pension system (need 10 years FTE), I am not sure if this is important
Full time cons:
  • Additional two hours in cubicle land per day = misery
  • Possible delay on finishing my degree and starting to look for opportunities in new field
  • I spend most of my free time on “frugality activities” e.g. cooking from scratch, if I work full time and continue to pursue my degree will I spend more money?
My initial feeling is that I should take the offer. I mean, 20% pay raise. It would bring my gross income to almost $40,000 and all of the extra money would go into the 'stache/debt repayment. I don't have to do it forever. But then I think, I love working part-time, it would almost certainly make me miserable and possibly delay my other life/career goals. What do you all think?

sheepstache

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Re: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 02:09:33 PM »
When you say a 20% pay raise are you talking about an hourly raise or are you just talking about the fact that you'd be getting more hours and therefore being paid for them?  If the latter I would look into a rate raise as well since you're obviously valuable to them.  And/or a title change because that will signal something to the people around you, especially in terms of what sort of more interesting projects you can do or how much autonomy you have.

How close are you to vesting in the pension system at this point?

Do you have any medical stuff or stuff coming up that the health benefits would be particularly valuable for (dental work, kids, etc.)?

What is your alternate plan, just saying no you want to stick to part time?  Would someone else be made full time in your place then and/or might the option still be in place for a later time?  I would offer to be full time to help with the transition for the new boss but say that I wanted to maintain the option to go back to part-time after, say, a three-month period.  Who knows if you'll like this new boss?

I'm not getting a strong sense of enthusiasm about the master's degree and related career.  Maybe it's just how you've written it.  But are you totally set on it or do you just like the idea of having the option?  If it's something you're dead set on then don't let anything get in the way.  If you just like having the option then maybe it's worth the risk that this full time will interfere.  You know yourself best, of course, but I would give yourself more credit for being able to get stuff done, including frugal activities, even with full-time work.  I think you should bring up your concerns with your higher-ups and maybe they can see some solutions like giving you a more flexible schedule during finals or letting you take your vacation all at once when it's time to do the thesis, plus the option I mentioned already of going back to part-time after the transition if it's too much (thought I would guarantee them a certain number of months full time and a guaranteed 1-month notice about going back to part-time so they're not worried they're going to lose you all of a sudden).

Oh also, how is the office environment when it comes to sticking to 40 hours a week?  Does full time actually mean you'll be working 50 hours a week and/or taking work home?

BPA

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Re: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2013, 02:26:53 PM »
I made the choice 7 years ago to cut my work day by 1/3 and it made a huge difference to my sense of well being.  I knew that meant putting off FI for several years, but it was worth it to me.

Currently, I am nearly 45 years old and can retire with a $20k defined benefit pension (about 2/3 of which is indexed for inflation) in just over five years.  My goal is to continue working part-time, pay off my mortgage ($125k remaining), and take that pension at 50. 

I am much happier working part-time, but I'm older and close to a more traditional early retirement age. 

It depends on your personal financial circumstances (even part-time, I make $63k/year which is a pretty good salary), and what will make you happy. 
« Last Edit: April 24, 2013, 02:41:24 PM by BPA »

anastrophe

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Re: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2013, 02:52:43 PM »
When you say a 20% pay raise are you talking about an hourly raise or are you just talking about the fact that you'd be getting more hours and therefore being paid for them?  If the latter I would look into a rate raise as well since you're obviously valuable to them.  And/or a title change because that will signal something to the people around you, especially in terms of what sort of more interesting projects you can do or how much autonomy you have. [...]Oh also, how is the office environment when it comes to sticking to 40 hours a week?  Does full time actually mean you'll be working 50 hours a week and/or taking work home?

Same pay rate, more hours. A title change/pay upgrade isn't really feasible, regretfully. It's a heavily unionized government environment, there are no increases for merit--only if the job itself changes. This would be the same job, just 20% more of it. But the job itself isn't too demanding, it's not a workaholic culture and nobody takes work home ever.

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How close are you to vesting in the pension system at this point? Do you have any medical stuff or stuff coming up that the health benefits would be particularly valuable for (dental work, kids, etc.)?

Health benefits are the same for everyone over 50% FTE, so no change there. I'd guess I have 4-5 years credit. But I could always work somewhere else for awhile and then come back to state service if I wanted to finish it out, ideally with a better gig in the same system (since benefits are based on top consecutive 3 years of salary).

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I'm not getting a strong sense of enthusiasm about the master's degree and related career.  Maybe it's just how you've written it.  But are you totally set on it or do you just like the idea of having the option?  If it's something you're dead set on then don't let anything get in the way.  If you just like having the option then maybe it's worth the risk that this full time will interfere.  You know yourself best, of course, but I would give yourself more credit for being able to get stuff done, including frugal activities, even with full-time work.

When I first started my program I was super excited about it, but over the last few years I've seen there are less jobs, which is discouraging, and I'm less sure about what I'm going to do...maybe I am just burnt out on being in grad school, but yeah, I am sort of directionless now. I guess I like the option? But then, I've just spent four years getting a degree, I figure I should use it, right? Which could be hard to do if I'm already working a full-time job somewhere else. I dunno.

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I think you should bring up your concerns with your higher-ups and maybe they can see some solutions like giving you a more flexible schedule during finals or letting you take your vacation all at once when it's time to do the thesis, plus the option I mentioned already of going back to part-time after the transition if it's too much (thought I would guarantee them a certain number of months full time and a guaranteed 1-month notice about going back to part-time so they're not worried they're going to lose you all of a sudden).[...] might the option still be in place for a later time?  I would offer to be full time to help with the transition for the new boss but say that I wanted to maintain the option to go back to part-time after, say, a three-month period.

These are good suggestions. I think they would be willing to let me be flexible provided that it's not crunch time for a project. I don't think I'll have the option to go up again, since it's because of the boss thing, but going back down will probably be an option anytime, along with the rest of the ideas (I once took 2 weeks vacation to work on a paid internship and they were cool about that, though the new boss might be different).

jrhampt

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Re: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 07:21:26 AM »
It does sound to me like you may just be burnt out on grad school if all you've got left is the thesis.  I was at that point in December and at that point I wanted nothing more than to never have to think about grad school again (I also work full time), and changes in my department at work were making me very nervous as well.   I forced myself to write my thesis this spring, changed positions at work, and I think I'm about done (waiting for next round of feedback from committee on the last draft I submitted).  It was extremely stressful.  You've already put so much time into it that you probably don't want to quit now.  If you think that going full-time before finishing your thesis would put that at risk, that's a serious consideration that you'd want to mention if you decide to turn down the expanded role.  I was offered a new role last spring that I turned down because I thought it would be too much for me with another year of classes remaining.

anastrophe

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Re: Work full time or pursue new career part-time? Need advice soon.
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 08:48:33 AM »
@jrhampt: Thanks for your input. If I still had coursework to take, I would absolutely turn it down. But somehow independent research seems different. It's possibly more demanding, but you can self-schedule a lot more of it. Since I don't know what my thesis project is, conceivably I could design something that works around my job schedule, right? (I have a lot of freedom in topic choice.) On the other hand, I'm not sure how self-directed I'll be if I'm trying to all my research after dinner and on the weekend.