First Thoughts On The New Job

A mishmosh of thoughts in no particular order:

My commute is so much shorter than at my last job and it is amazing. That extra 40 minutes a day makes a huge difference in my energy levels.

There’s a lot for me to do here. Which on the one hand is okay since I have a pretty good idea of the steps I need to take to make a real impact. On the other hand, I’m still feeling lazy and like I just want to continue to read books, idly amble about the neighborhood, eat at all the nice lunch buffets nobody else goes to because they’re busy working, and watch GLOW all day. Is that too much to ask? (Yes, obvs.)

I feel like I’m ramping up on our systems very quickly. It probably helps that I spent a ton of time in my funemployment researching the company, interviewing the team for pre-job input, and reading MBA-esque books to prepare.

I don’t understand people who get “bored” in retirement. Were it not for money and all that, I could have readily extended my month of funemployment for years without a problem.

How am I so freaking tired from sitting!?

My anxiety is being super mellow right now and I’m kind of concerned? This is the first time I’ve majorly switched contexts and have felt basically nothing. Like, super blasé. No anxious flutters, no desperately wanting to impress or please. No excitement either, even though I felt really pumped about this transition only a month ago. Is this normal? Am I depressed right now?

Everybody seems nice, inoffensive, and not cynical here. It makes me feel weirdly uncomfortable… what does that say about me as a person?

I think part of the reason I feel so emotionally uninvested right now is probably because fiancé and I have decided, unless there’s a significant turn in the political tides, that we need to seriously consider moving next year. I feel ambivalently like I am both overreacting and underreacting. It’s been taking up a lot of brain space. Ugh. I don’t even know how to live life as if everything’s “normal” anymore.

I’m so unused to talking to new people. So many times new colleagues came up to me with, “Hi!” and I responded, “Good! I mean, hi!” Facepalm.

Have you ever felt “meh” during the first week at a new job? Any tips for making the transition back to work?



Job Offer Negotiation Was A Success

It’s official: I took the new job!

I’m glad to finally have this out of the way so my brain space can be consumed less by anticipating work and instead truly embrace this brief period of funemployment.

Before I accepted my job offer I, of course, negotiated. It helps that I have a lot of very aggressive friends and mentors that have taught me to be relentlessly entitled. You won’t get what you don’t ask for and all that jazz.

In my negotiations, I asked for an extra $20k in salary and an extra week of vacation my first year of employment. In return, my future employer gave me a $10k bump in salary, title promotion, and a promise of flexibility when it came to the vacation, though one they wanted to handle off the books (i.e. we’ll see if they live up to those promises). My new salary is still a pay cut relative to what I’d been making before but is in line with industry standards for the size of the company. The vacation policy is pretty iffy, but I’ll live.

While I’m a little disheartened that I didn’t get quite the salary bump or vacation commitments I wanted, the title promotion by itself is a big plus in my book. One of the things I have been worried about as part of this career change has been moving far back in terms of seniority. My thought is, even if this job doesn’t work out for the long haul, having that “Senior” by my job title will help add legitimacy to my experience and make it easier for me to apply for bigger roles or justify to big companies to bring me on board down the line.

In negotiating my job offer, I did three things:

One, I established a high anchor for compensation early. A lot of folks new to fields try to be wishy washy and force the other party to name a number first. But then, if an employer low balls, you have a much harder time edging them up drastically. With enough data– I use Glassdoor and Paysa for tech roles– you can generally figure out the range which a company is likely to offer and pick a number above it as an anchor point. For me, my anchor point was my previous pay since I was coming from a more highly compensated role and other job offers I had received for that sort of work.

Two, I dug into and negotiated multiple areas of my offer. While compensation was most important to me, through the negotiation process the company was able to “clarify” (i.e. I think they figured this out for the first time) their quite generous maternity leave policy. I also think being flexible on compensation got me a little flexibility in terms of vacation time on their end, which they had started pretty hard-nosed about (for reasons I don’t entirely understand).

Three, and most importantly, I remained consistently open and respectful, even when there was tension between me and the company and when I did not receive exactly what I wanted. In game theory, one’s optimal strategy will differ if they are engaged in a single or repeated game. Salary negotiation is a repeated game. Establishing early that I am willing to assert my worth but also do it in a respectful way will pay dividends down the line, I think, when pushing for raises, promotions, and for being seen as someone who is willing to be “tough” and represent the company as aggressively as I do my own interests. This negotiation may have ended, but the next one is always waiting around the corner.

Have you ever negotiated a job offer? Do you do so by default? What strategies do you use to determine your market value and negotiate?

What I Am Looking For In My Next Job

Friday I have an interview at a company I am really excited about joining. So far, my calls with the hiring manager and senior person above them have gone really well. Now it’s time for the four hour marathon on-site interview session. #tech #do other industries make people do this?

Looking at the role, it hits so many of my criteria in what I want for a “good job” that it feels like the standard bearer for the type of position I’d like. I lucked into an interview thanks to a referral from an academic I work with. Something something don’t just work for your network, make your network for you, yada yada yada. #maxims by yapfb

Even if I don’t get this job, though, as I’ve been applying to places, I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of what is / isn’t important to me in my next job. Here’s what I want:

Opportunity for a career switch

I have a non-compete that my employer would enforce, so in a sense I kind of have to make a career switch anyway. But there’s a particular type of tech role that I really want. Since I’m not looking to be a developer, those jobs are aplenty, it’s a bit more competitive to get my foot in the door, especially at a good place.

Nice, smart colleagues

I’m still mourning leaving all my wonderful colleagues at my current job. While I don’t know if I’ll find a group as actively funny and willing to be friends at my next position, I do know I want to be in a place where those I work with are reasonably nice– though can be direct about constructive criticism/getting things done–, intelligent, and competent. Speaking of…

Competent management

For better or worse, company life is affected by the decisions of senior and middle managers. Their decisions can make day-to-day easy or really, really hard. I feel like having a well-connected senior management is more likely at a smaller company. However, I am fine working in a big company, so long as their processes seem to make sense and don’t leave workers in weird bureaucratic limbos trying to secure basic things necessary to do their jobs.

Intellectual stimulation

I will take a “boring” product with interesting technical problems over a flashy product that’s super straightforward to implement any day of the week. I also refuse to take a job where my main responsibility is to run and analyze A/B tests all day. Just, no.

Good work-life balance

There are many aspects to this I’m looking for, but mainly I’m focusing on finding a good vacation policy, people putting in an average 40 hour week, colleagues with kids (especially women who’ve gone on maternity leave) that are able to make it work, and proximity to my house for a minimal commute.

Not too much of a pay cut

If I’m being honest with myself, I am 99% likely to experience a pay cut if I’m switching roles. Frankly, I don’t have experience in this new type of position and the 25-75% range for pay is much lower than in my current role (though there’s a long tail on pay, especially as you get into senior versions of this new position). So I’m setting my bar a little low here. In an ideal world I’d lose no more than 10% total cash compensation. Up to 20% still feels “acceptable” especially if I hit all my other criteria. Max I am willing to go down is 30% (that’s near-ish the median pay for this position) and that’s if I’m really desperate to get my foot in the door.

Things I don’t care about / actively do not want

I do not want to join a small, young start-up. Even though I myself am 26, the thought of joining a company composed only of other twenty-somethings, with a few thirty-somethings as founders sprinkled in, makes me deeply uneasy. I’d really like some company stability and older colleagues with experience I can learn from. Also, all the small start-ups I’ve talked to have given me a very Silicon Valley vibe. They hit all the common stereotypes: ping pong tables, craft beer on site, twenty-something coders sitting on couches instead of desks, bro-y hiring manager, everyone’s tired and overworked. Not my jam.

I do not care about equity. Unless a company is already publicly traded, it is as good as Monopoly money to me. Even then, vesting periods are long and I don’t want to be tied to a company that may not be a good fit for the promise of future stock.

Also, free food is nice and all, but more often than not will not fit my dietary criteria and/or is representative of a company culture that overly values hours on campus. Ditto all the other big company luxuries (gym, laundry, whatever).

What are your requirements vs. nice to have’s for a job? What couldn’t you stand or is unimportant? How much of a pay cut would you be willing to take for switching into a new type of role that you think better fits your interests? Do you have to endure marathon on-site interviews for your industry?



The Ever Increasing Commute

Over the years, my commute time has steadily grown.

When I first came to the city, I could make it between my apartment and office 20 minutes, door-to-door.

Then our company moved across the river and my commute increased to 30 minutes.

Then I bought my condo in a slightly less central suburb further from transit and it catapulted to 45 minutes.

That is, of course, assuming it isn’t raining or snowing, which confuses our subway system. On those days my commute can be as long as an hour and a half. These instances haven’t really become more common over time, but they have certainly been a more grating. I’ve not infrequently the past few months left my office right at 5 to catch a 6:15 exercise class near my house (<5 minutes) only to be fifteen minutes to late.

One of the things I’m prioritizing for my next job is to work somewhere closer to where I live. 30 minutes on normal days by subway on my side of the river so I have an easy (< 3 mile / 1 hour) walk when the subway is rolling over playing possum.

Before you suggest it: yes, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and music, etc. Sometimes, though, I just want to get home on time.

How long is your commute? What’s the longest commute you are willing to endure?

Networking While Introverted

With less than a month to go, I’ve started by job search process in earnest.

First, I updated my resume, LinkedIn, etc. per the recommendations of my career coach. Then I started messaging what feels like every recruiter in the metro area, even though I know it’s been more targeted than that. I’ve hit up both internal recruiters at companies I want to join and external recruiters (i.e. headhunters). I tailor my message for internal recruiters for the positions I’m interested in and external recruiters based on their areas of specialty. No dice. I’m switching roles, so I don’t think I’m the safe bet they’re looking for. Sigh.

So, given my lack of success using the arm’s-length methods, as of last week I started working my network hard. There are four leads in the picture right now:

  • internal referral by former coworker at Big N company, where there’s an opening on team I’d love to work for even if it’s probably way more work than I do now for roughly the same pay,
  • referral by current coworker/mentor for niche position at another Big N where he knows the hiring manager and also turned down the position himself,
  • coffee interview for mid-sized startup based on recommendation from a professor I work with who knows the founder, and
  • lunch date with a college acquaintance who works at big company doing the kind of work I want and that has contacts at some of the big firms hiring in town.

Who knows if any of these will end up panning out, but just the process of networking has really engrained in me two things: (1) people have been supremely generous toward me for which I am eternally grateful and hope to return the favor someday and (2) oh my goodness, my anxiety from so much online and meatspace social contact is off the charts.

I find it really difficult to ask favors of people with whom I am friendly but aren’t my close friends. It feels slimy and disingenuous, especially if I haven’t talked to them in years. I’ve tamped down some of these feelings by making the interactions as quid pro quo as possible– “Hey, would you like to meet for lunch to catch up? (my treat!)”– but still. Ugh. Humans. Talking. Introversion. Blech.

If this round of “shaking the tree” doesn’t yield anything, I’ll be taking the route of all the meet-ups, all the time. Then poking my close friends for job leads which feels less self-serving but higher stakes in terms of killing it at interviews (so as to live up to friend’s recommendation).

That’s the rub, I guess. Always paying for these things one way or another: with your time, your spoons, your social capital.

But if I want to find a job, I gotta hustle, hustle, hustle.

How do you feel about networking? Do you find it easier to ask favors of close friends, loose acquaintances, or total strangers? What helps you with your social anxiety?

Will I Regret Quitting My Job?

We’re down to the last month.

Because I’ll be gone soon, a lot of the stress associated with the huge crunch of work has been muted. If our work flops, I won’t be there to deal with the fallout. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying– I’m still working hard— but I’m not as worried about it as I would otherwise.

But because I’m not thinking about the work aspect of work, I’ve had time and energy to think about another aspect: the people.

This was my first job out of college and I’ve been here six years. Over that time, I’ve made a lot of really good friendships with people I like and respect.

Little by little I’ve been telling my colleagues that I will be gone soon. I started with my former roommate during a lunch out, then told some of my teammates during a late-night work crunch. Some of them (like former roommate) I know I’ll spend time with even after I quit. But there are others, though I enjoy their company very much, with whom I don’t have that kind of out-of-the-office relationship and therefore will probably fall away in my memory over time.

Yesterday, I told my mentor that I was leaving. He was super supportive about it, had suspected for months and has thought about leaving himself, and offered to send me a job lead he thought’d be a good fit. We were both kind of bummed about the situation. I wondered to myself whether I’d ever see him again. I like him as a person, and we have hung out outside of work during some now-defunct political meet-ups, but he also has kids and lives on the opposite side of town, so the likelihood that we’ll see each other again is kind of slim. That makes me sad; I’ll miss him.

As I’m leaving, I realize that I don’t really mind losing the projects I’m leaving behind– which, I’m kind of annoyed at the timing that now as I’m about to be gone I get some of the most interesting work of my career, but whatever. Nor am I fretting about my loss of income (though ask me again in a few months). Instead, I’m saddened that these people, my colleagues, my friends, that we’ll grow apart and those relationships will fall by the wayside. Which, if a friendship is so tenuous, is it really a friendship at all? But anyway, starting over in a new place… it’ll be hard.

If there’s one thing I’ll regret, it’ll be leaving these people, for whom I care deeply, behind.

Are you friends with the people at your job? Would you miss them if you left? Would you maintain those relationships? Why is adult friendship so hard?

Be Entitled

On my way out the door, I’m starting to impart my last words of wisdom to our newest hires. It didn’t really dawn on me until the past year that there’s a cohort of people who look up to me. Not just as a manager but as a… mentor? Whom they ask for… advice? It still feels awkward to think about.

When I joined my company, there were no other women in the firm’s technology group. Just twenty-five-ish guys, most of which were at least six feet tall, all of which were white.

Now, our team has six women out of a group of thirty-ish, not including myself. Two of which are non-white. In spite of the fact that I’d never considered myself the type of person to actively lean in, guess how many of those women moved into our group after I started getting involved in hiring decisions.

In my short time I’ve even been in the position to mentor others– not just women, but especially women– there’s one thing that I’ve wanted, desperately have tried to impart, over and over:

Be entitled!

Now, being entitled doesn’t mean what you might think. It doesn’t mean being a jerk, doesn’t mean to obstinately block progress lest you get exactly your way. But it does mean getting what you deserve and really knowing you deserve it too, even if the little gremlins in your head tell you maybe it’s an overreach, maybe you aren’t ready.

Here’s the thing: over the years, I’ve had the benefit of learning from some really smart and talented men. One thing I’ve learned is that when those men have very strong convictions about something, they make sure those convictions are heard. Sometimes prolongedly, sometimes stepping on the toes of others, sometimes ad nauseum until a poor new hire is checking the clock every thirty seconds to see if she’s going to make it out of this meeting in time to catch the train to a dinner party she needs to get to. And these men do this not because they are trying to be jerks, but because we work in an environment premised on collaborative argumentation and in that environment they are entitled to have their opinions heard in full and considered by others in good faith.

It took me a while to get used to this way of working. When I was new I would often come and go from meetings not having said a word, feeling unsure of how to interrupt and make space for my opinions. Managers would have to call on me like I was still a student, YAPFB, what do you think about this? YAPFB, you’ve done the analysis, does this fit what you’ve seen?

It took a few good mentors, men who are staunch feminists and walk the walk, to reiterate for me again and again: You can interrupt. You are entitled to have your opinion heard. You are allowed to take up space. It had been so engrained in me all my life to be as background as possible, to take up as little oxygen in the room as I could, that my understanding of my own desert was warped. While I didn’t need my mentors permission, I did need their reminder:  I am not just allowed, I am entitled.

This revelation of entitlement expanded to other areas of my work life. I was not just entitled to be heard, I was also entitled to be paid. I was not just entitled to be paid, but I was also entitled not to take on all the career-stunting admin work that nobody else wanted to do because I was so “organized.” I was entitled to work-life balance and, as a human, I was entitled to sometimes make a mistake. I am entitled not to hear sexist jokes by the water cooler and I am entitled when I hear them to call them out.

When I see newer, younger women in my group, I often see a mirror of my younger self’s habits and behaviors. Recently, one of our newer hires jumped back into projects the day after a semi-serious head injury and working into the late hours of the night to hit a couple of deadlines. Because she felt like she had to fulfill her obligations to the team, she ended up exacerbating her injury. When I told her manager that I was concerned, he said, “I think it’s cute that she works so hard.” #nope, going to go flip some tables now

Because she, you, I, all humans in decent living conditions are entitled to drop tasks after a head injury. (Hopefully not silently, but whatcha gonna do?) Basic things, health being the first among that list, nobody else should be able to take from you. Not your employer, not anyone. You as a person, an identity you had way before you as an employee, are entitled to that.

It’s taken a lot of practice to feel comfortable being entitled. To learn to assert my own desert than to wait for others assert it on my behalf. To learn to state what I feel entitled to instead of asking if I am entitled to them. To be– if I’m being flip about it– like “one of the boys,” who haven’t had a sense of diminutiveness, of sweet and passive deference cudgeled into them from the day they were born. I hope to pass this along to the next cohort of women as well as I can, with what little time I have.

What advice would you give young professional women in your field?