Thursday, February 02, 2006

An Ethical Dilemma

So it's no secret that I severely dislike my job. It's not the worst job in the world: the office is well ventilated, I can go to the bathroom whenever I please, the only physical danger I face is morbid obesity from the Christmas goodies. And I feel like I should be grateful: I have a job that pays me enough to live in nice but not extravagent circumstances and provides me with health insurance. I have my own office, I never work more than 40 hours in a week, and I can get away with spending most of my days doing things other than work.

I also realize that most of the reasons I don't like my job---mind-numbing work that isn't contributing to the greater good, coworkers' personality disorders, petty corporate policies---are par for the course. Leaving here doesn't necessarily mean leaving those.

But I still feel like I'm dying a little every day. I rue coming in everyday, I do just enough to keep myself from getting fired, and I will the clock to move quickly so I can go home again. In some ways, I'd rather trade the office, the 40-hour weeks, and the lack of stress for a cubicle, extra hours, and a full workload if it meant that I could care about the work.

Up until now, I've stayed at my job because
1. It pays well enough.
2. The job market is tough.
3. The flexible schedule lets me come and go as I please, so I can take care of some other things in my life.
4. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.
5. The shame of moving back to my parents' house far outweighs the attraction of not paying rent.*
6. I have an exit strategy.

Plan A: I quit my job to go to grad school (although I may try to stay on part-time if I don't get any financial aid, which goes on the list of reasons that I've stayed here).
Plan B: If I don't get into grad school, I'll quit my job when my lease is up and move back East.

But more and more, those reasons and the hope of a light at the end of the tunnel aren't getting me through the day.

But here's my question: What are the ethics of taking a job knowing that you plan to leave it in the next 6-8 months?

There are some jobs for which this isn't an issue; some jobs have naturally high turnovers and I wouldn't feel the least bit bad about taking it on a temporary basis (store clerk, waitress [although I hope to God I never have to waitress again]). And sometimes you have to leave a job after a short time regardless of your original intentions. But I have this thing---this hesistancy---to take a position in a professional environment knowing that I only plan to stay a short time.

Am I being silly and old-fashioned? What do you think?

Mind you, I've been debating this for about six months already and will probably still be debating it in another six months, making the whole debate moot. But still . . . I'm curious what others think.

Also, at what point would it be acceptable to call FedEx and tell them that they are morons because they couldn't find my address and now my package isn't scheduled for delivery until tomorrow? Am I being unreasonable to be annoyed that my package has been IN AUSTIN for TWO DAYS and still hasn't actually made it to me and Austin is not that big of a city? Not that I'm expecting an new kidney or anything. But still . . . Harumph!

*Not that I mean to say that living with your parents' is necessarily shameful. If you are comfortable with it and have reasons that you deem legitimate, then by all means, go for it. I just can't justify for myself moving back in with my parents because I'm dissatisfied with my job and my life and I don't want to pay my own bills.


At 1:48 PM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

D and I live with my mother (just kidding).

Seriously? I think it's fine to take a job knowing you might not stay long. I had a career counselor who told me that many people have 7 careers in this lifetime. It's just not expected anymore that we'll stay at the same job from our 20s to our 60s. I knew a guy when I was a paralegal who quit after 4 months. While the boss was upset, the guy hadn't actually made a commitment to stay longer. So why not?

The one exception for me would be if someone was harmed as a result of another person quitting (i.e., surgeon leaving in the middle of surgery). But other than that? Leave when it's right for you.

At 2:54 PM , Blogger Frema said...

I say go for it. You never know what the future holds. You may find a new job you love and want to continue working while in grad school. You may find a job that convinces you you don't need grad school right now. You may find a job that changes what you plan to study. The possibilities are endless. But the one thing that won't change is your level of happiness if you stay at this job.

I am going through kind of the same thing right now. I moved to Indianapolis for a job that I thought would be great. And many aspects are great. Good money, great benefits...but I'm not happy. I hate going to work and I love coming home. I live for the weekends. And I'm not OK with that.
I feel a little bad because my boss has no idea what I'm feeling, and he paid to move me here last May. But I didn't sign a contract, and I don't owe him anything other than a "Thank you for this opportunity." Life's too short to settle.

At 6:57 PM , Blogger bdogg_mcgee said...

Yeah. What they said.

Do what feels right for YOU, and don't worry about what others will think. Gotta be true to yourself....

At 6:36 AM , Blogger Liz said...

I agree with Frema. You can't be 100% certain of what will happen down the road. And many workplaces wouldn't hesitate to let you go after only 6 months if necessary. If you have a chance to be happier at work, go for it!

At 5:13 PM , Blogger Lora said...

The future is to unpredictable to not take a job just because you aren't sure if you'll be able to stay there for long. Six months is more than a long enough commitment. Who knows you may land something that does truly inspire you and you may decide to stay longer.


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