||[Sep. 1st, 2005|05:09 pm]
I've been in the field (social work) for 5 years and am currently employed at a large university. I just took this job 8 months ago but I'm not happy. The program was designed in response to a rash of suicides at the university and I feel that it's more of a PR response than a clinical program. The pay is really good but the majority of my job is being on call and getting woken up in the middle of the night for what I feel are not real psych emergencies. Prior to this job, I worked in a psychiatric emergency room with severely mentally ill people. I think I have culture shock. The populations are extreme opposites of each other. Anyway, an ex co-worker of mine recommended me for a Director's position at an outpatient mental health clinic and I interviewed for the job today. It looks like they plan to offer it to me. Problem is that it's a pay cut of about $4,000.00 but the title is better and there seems to be room to move up, where as at my current job there does not seem to be. Also I won't be on call. My job would be a combo of a clinical case load and administrative stuff. Seems like a lot of growth potential. Just wanted to know what people think about taking lower paying jobs with better titles. How do you all weigh such options ?
I'm not yet out of grad school -- in mental health. But I have 14 years experience in high-tech business (and I'm quite interested in career counseling. ;)
You contrast the issues of pay rate vs. title. There's so much more to a job choice than that. First let me say there's nothing wrong with taking a pay cut -- provided, of course, that you can still live within those means -- for any job which is a significant improvement in other ways. (Said by a computer programmer who will be taking a massive pay cut to become a psychotherapist!)
The questions I would suggest you contemplate to your satisfaction are:
1) How would you feel about the kinds of tasks you would be doing on this new job? You say you'll be doing administrative stuff. Well, how would you feel about a day of doing paperwork? Is that comfortable, enjoyable, or horrid from your point of view? What if it's for weeks on end? How would you feel about fewer patient contact hours? What do you like or not like in patient contact. If you're used to doing ER/crisis work, will you find the sort of potentially on-going, non-emergency, health-maintence work at a clinic unappealing?
As a director, you may be managing staff; how do you feel about being put in charge of others? As a director, you may find your days are spent more dealing with data and resources (e.g. budgets, records, schedules, etc.) than with people; if you went into the field because you are a "people person", would this be a disappointment?
If the sorts of tasks expected of you would be an improvement if you took this other job, that's good contributory reason to take it. If they would make you less happy, and it would pay you less, you might want to think again.
The worst mismatches I've seen between employee and job have been where the employee liked the idea of the job for some reason, but didn't have a real grasp on what that really meant they would be doing day-to-day, and the tasks turned out to be a mis-fit.
2) How do you feel about the work the clinic does? You characterised your current program as "more of a PR repsonse than a clinical program"; what about this clinic? For many of us in human services, one of the most crucial elements of our job satisfaction is what I call "traction to do good". We went into human services to serve humans, and the more and better we can actually serve humans, the better we feel about our jobs. Is this position going to give you more traction to do good?
3) What are your values? How much does prestige matter to you? How much does excitement matter to you? Does having authority matter to you? Does material success matter to you? Does breaking the glass ceiling matter to you? Does maximizing your opportunities to reform matter to you?
And then: how does this other opportunity map to those values? To what extent does it align with them, and to what extent does it not?
4) What are your goals and dreams? Someday to run your own clinic? Or to be the senior social worker in a hospital? Or to leave the field? Or what?
Is the stepping stone that this job is -- all jobs are stepping stones, and you observe it is a stepping stone to up -- a stepping stone on a path that actually takes you where you want to go?
(I mentioned that I'm a computer programmer: it is not uncommon in my field for senior programmers to strive to be promoted into management, get there, discover they loathe managing, and then quit and take a programming position somewhere else. It turns out -- and this isn't obvious to many people -- that as you move "up", you essentially change jobs! So be careful that the path you travel gets you to where you want to be. If you have somewhere you want to be.)
5) How else will this impact your quality of life? You say you wouldn't be on-call. Does that matter a lot to you? How would your commute change? What about benefits package? What about vacation time? What about longer-term job stability (where does the clinic get it's funding from, and will it still be getting that funding in 3 years)?
Hope this brainstorm help! Good luck with this choice!
These are all the things that I need to think about over the weekend. Thanks for helping me amp them out in an orderly fashion. My current job is quite well described by "The worst mismatches I've seen between employee and job have been where the employee liked the idea of the job for some reason, but didn't have a real grasp on what that really meant they would be doing day-to-day, and the tasks turned out to be a mis-fit." The job was described to me as being a mobile crisis team for the university but it's really glorified babysitting and coddling of entitled, not mentally ill, obnoxious kids. At this potential job, I'd be back with legit mentally ill people with real problems beyond "my boyfriend broke up with me so I hit myself with a belt" type stuff which I have little to no tolerence for. I'm really disappointed, last December I thought that this was a *dream job*. In reality I answer to a lawyer and the University PR people. It's all about making the place look good and nothing to do with helping people.
The job would be some admin stuff AND a clinical case load, so that might be a real growth opportunity for me. I've never formally supervised before, it seems daunting and exciting.
I'll let you know what happens. I don't even have an official offer yet : )
Thanks for your input.