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Thread: Should I accept a low starting offer to move down a better career path?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Mar 2013
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    Should I accept a low starting offer to move down a better career path?

    Please excuse me if this is the wrong forum but I was not sure where else to post this

    Had a few questions and I would appreciate the feedback of some experienced people.

    Situation: I recently graduated with a 4 year MET degree. I have a good resume and 3 internships experience for someone who just graduated. I'm working an internship as a drafter right now at a company called Kiewit and they'll probably offer me a position, but I don't want to do just drafting. I want to do something more exciting.

    The offer: I got an offer for a job in ND with a company that designs, tests and manufactures agricultural tractors/equipment (1 year contract). The catch is, it's only 22/hour which comes out to less than 46k a year. That seems really low, the town is Fargo which isn't that low cost of living either. I was under the impression starting salary for METs was in the range of 55k-60k as I have friends starting in that range.

    Decision I'm faced with: Should I take the offer in Fargo which does more interesting work than Kiewit? It is a test engineer position, a lot of hands on and a combination of a lot of things such as mechanical, testing and electrical. This sounds like good experience but it seems like such a low offer. Or should I pass it up and hope something better comes?

    Question 1: They need work quick and they have only given me about 1 day to make a decision, is this common? This seems incredibly low time frame to make a decision. Does it make a difference I'm working with a recruiting agency?

    Question 2: Would it be out of line to call them up and try to bargain for a better paycheck?

    Question 3: What is a realistic offer that I should be shooting for with my degree and experience?
    Last edited by 7055; 08-07-2013 at 11:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    Miscellaneous thoughts:
    1) You're at the point in your career where what you learn is as important, if not more important, than what you make.
    2) From what I've heard, the Dakotas are in a relative employment boom compared with the rest of the economy. You would be in the middle of that, and in a good position for other interesting opportunities that are sure to arise.
    3) You should investigate the reputation of the company as an employer. Do they promote from within? Do they give raises?
    4) You expected more salary, but is it more than you make now? Jumping from 46k to 55k is probably easier than jumping to it from where you are now.
    5) Try to look at the long term picture. There will be a time when this job will literally disappear from your resume. Looking at the longer term view, is this the direction you want to head?
    6) You say its a contract gig. Does it include benefits (medical, vacation, etc.)? Do they take out withholding? Contract gigs often turn into direct employment if your performance impresses them.
    7) I like the way you organized and highlighted your question. You were careful not to exhibit the hideous spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar that is SO TYPICAL of your generation. That all speaks well for you and puts you ahead.
    8) Will they help with relocation expenses?
    9) If you're working with a recruiter, direct contact with the employer would be out of line. But there is nothing wrong with negotiating with the recruiter. If you do, try to use hard data for comparisons, not personal references. Google "Beginning engineer salaries Fargo, ND?"

  3. #3
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Fargo, ND is expensive? Compared to where?

    To get an idea/estimate of the cost of living within selected regions of the USA, search the internet for "Cost of Living index".

    Also, find an online version of a classified section of the local newspaper to check on housing prices and rent, and if you can actually visit before accepting the job check out the grocery store, gas stations, and other COL prices.

  4. #4
    Associate Engineer
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    May 2013
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    I agree with jboggs, especially on the first point. In terms of salary, as a recent graduate you shouldn't expect much, even if you have done 3 internships. Employers want to see you progress, and maybe later you'll see a raise. You also need to think of the work you'd be doing, as it seems like you'd rather do the one in Fargo. In the end, it's all up to you and what you want to achieve.

  5. #5
    Lead Engineer
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    Houston TX USA
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    You say you are now doing drafting so when deciding about the benefits of experience vs. a better salary ask your self the following. When you apply for the next job would you rather have "drafter" or "test technician" on your resume?

    In general, assuming that you do not currently have any family responsibilities it is a good time to take advantage of your current low living expenses and freedom to investigate and learn.

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