succumbing to peer pressure

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Decisions, advice, support, and negotiations

I finally (finally!) got a little quiet space in my own head, and I know I want to take this job. I went in to the job interview working pretty hard to be my own devil's advocate, knowing that I was already pretty smitten with both company and director/potential boss. And there are legitimate cons to the job. But none that outweigh the pros. And the cons (contextually lower salary, long hours, general toughness of job, etc.) are all the kinds of things that if five or ten years from now I look back on turning down the job for those reasons, I'll hate myself.

So I'm going to take the job. And I'm excited and happy about it, and I'm lucky to have quite a fan club of wonderful people who are unabashedly happy and excited for me, which is awesome. But I spent the better part of the past couple of days talking to people who have the best of intentions, and who are trying to give me good advice (this is your first job interview and offer, shop around, get a better sense of what's out there, etc.) but who are essentially just raining on my parade. Some of that reaction is due to family baggage (thanks Dad, for the particularly classy analogy, "I just hate to see you throw yourself at the first guy in the bar"). And like I said, I know it's all coming from a place of caring about me and wanting what's best for me. But please don't patronize* me. I know I am inexperienced and naive, but I am also old enough to know what principles and values matter to me. And those principles and values are pretty well matched with this small non-profit company. And it's the right time to take this job - I can pick up and move across the country and travel internationally 6-8 weeks out of the year because right now it's just me. And I can take what could be considered a pay cut, because, again, it's just me. And I've been in love with this company for three years, and they just opened up the perfect job for me. Now is the time to take this job. So quit worrying about me and offering up alternatives and just be happy for me. Please.

I have received some really wonderful support and advice regarding negotiating my starting salary. I know I have to do this. I've known for years how men traditionally negotiate and women traditionally don't and how that results in massive differences in pay scale that add up to thousands and thousands of dollars. But I hate this part. It makes me feel gross and manipulative, and I know that it must be done and that it's expected, and that companies have a max offer in mind for these negotiations. But none of that makes me feel better. Hearing all of my female friends root for me, and remind me that I have to do this, and talk me through how to do this, helps tremendously.

Surfing craigslist for apartments, picturing the company retreat they want me to come on next weekend, and imagining dinners with the Canadians also all helps.

God, I've got to write my fifth chapter or none of this is going to matter!

*at least two of those well intentioned people felt the need to double check for themselves that this was a 'legitimate' company. Really? a) you thought I was so dumb/lazy that I wouldn't research the company? Hi, have you met me? b) this job was recommended to me by the editor of The journal in our field. You thought he'd suggest as my first job some risky start-up with no respect within the field? I know my career trajectory is already not so traditional. And you know what? It's never going to be. Thank goodness one of my colleagues offered up these two excellent pieces of advice: 1) you can either make your resume stand out because you're the best at everything. Or you can make it stand out because you do interesting work that makes you look different from every other applicant. 2) I'm hearing a lot of what other people think you should do. What do you want to do?


Blogger katey said...

Frankly, I think we'd all be as disappointed as you if your career trajectory was "traditional". You deserve exactly what you really want; god knows you've worked for it.

Congratulations on the awesome decision (yes, it IS awesome), and good luck with the negotiations! I too had to do this the last time I had a real job, and even though it was with a stingy consulting firm I still felt weird and gross about it. But I did it and got lots more money!

Looking forward to the next update and again, congrats! Amazing!

(Also: That sounds like some kind of parade-raining I went through with my parents for quite a while. You have my sympathies. They'll shut up once you're happy and doing what you love, though!)

8:55 AM  
Blogger Cor said...

Eeee! I'm so happy for you!! Bah to the nay-sayers, if you're happy with your decision then hurrah, most people just end up taking what they can get, not being totally smitten with their first job.

Looking forward to many dinners together (especially when I can join you in drinking copious amounts of wine)!

Oh, and I know the negotiations are painful, but you can do it!! If soft-spoken Mike can, you can.

9:35 AM  
Blogger A White Bear said...

I am so happy for you, baby. This sounds like a great job full of wonderful experiences, and you know when you've got something you want in front of you. Sometimes the first guy who hits on you in the bar is the one who is smart enough to see how brilliant and attractive you are! (But yes, it is a gross metaphor.)

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a new blackberry and while it can do a million things, it cannot make it easy for me to go back to the msg I wrote below and add a signature. So here it is up front:

I'm so out of the damned loop! I can't believe I didn't get a chance to thrust my heavy-handed condescending opinion into the mix!
Well you better not cancel on me tonight because at least want to be a right c*#t about this salary topic!

10:59 AM  
Blogger amelia said...


is all i have to say. i could not be more excited (for you or for me).

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like an awesome opportunity! Many congrats and Hugs!

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a great opportunity. Don't feel bad for disliking negotiating, it's a gross process. But if you don't do it, you'll feel much worse 2-3 years down the road when you find out what you could have been making. Every time that I've asked for a 10% better offer, I've gotten it.

2:21 PM  

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