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YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Old 10-17-14, 11:41 PM
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YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I'll try to keep it short, but I'm bad at that, so... \_(ツ)_/

- I work for an Oil & Gas company.
- 8 years ago, I started in a low-level, anyone-can-do-this job position. Mechanical maintenance technician in a basically brand new company.
- 7 years ago, I moved up to a role that was focused more on supporting and training new technicians.
- 6 years ago, the company was bought by a giant company.
- At that time, I got to join a new group (same department) heavily focused on bridging the gap between two major departments
- about 4 years, this is where I stayed. My duties were all over the place, but mostly focused on maintenance support. I, with some assistance from a handful of others, developed the entire maintenance protocol for our equipment, among other things.
- 1 year ago, that group basically fell apart. Because I had a good reputation, I got brought into the engineering group, despite not being an engineer. My role was (actually IS, since this is where I'm at now) not much different, but just in a different context. Still lots of maintenance support, but now mixed with a heavier focus on documentation. For example, I'm currently in the process of writing a giant manual for operating the equipment we produce.

I know it all sounds boring, but it's been kind of a crazy ride. I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

TODAY

- A department manager (call him Jason) told me he has a new opportunity for me.
- This would take me away from the engineers, and into another group
- the location manager (Jason's boss, and also my current boss's boss) thinks this is a good move for me.
- This new job is almost an entire 180 from what I currently DO, but more in line with my skills that aren't maintenance-related, if that makes sense.
- There IS a learning curve, and I'll likely need to take some formal training.
- I would need to learn and master a number of business systems, software, etc.

See, while I've done 8 years of maintenance and maintenance support, I've also done a TON of other stuff related to the business. I'm one of those folks who believes that my work does not define who I am, at least not currently. Do I LIKE writing maintenance docs and defining procedures? Absolutely. But it's not my only skill, and these guys clearly see that. This new role is meant to fill a gap in the organization that an outsider could not fill at this time. They want to hire from within if possible, and it appears that I'm the first choice.

But... it's a TOTALLY different career path. Not one I'm opposed to, but definitely a challenge. I like challenges.

So... what's a guy to do? I told "Jason" that I'd come back next week with a few hard questions for him on what he expects from me, etc. etc.
If you were me, what would you ask?
#1 - Where do YOU think this puts ME in the next 5 years?
#2 - ??? I literally don't know what else to ask about
#3 - Money, but honestly... I don't care. I mean, I always like to PROVE my worth before asking for another raise, and I just got a small one not long ago. If I take this role, I want a formal review in a year.


A few extra bits of info, as I'm sure it'll be asked:
- No BJs
- No weird stuff
- My education is not related to either of these careers
- BIG organization, but small location.
- Potential, if this works out, could be worldwide.

tl;dr version: been doing basically the same thing for 8 years. I've been noticed for being good at a lot of other things. Total change in path is available and sounds like a real challenge. Should I do it?

Bonus question: tell me about YOUR experience changing careers/jobs/whatever.
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Old 10-18-14, 05:30 AM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Do it. You'll regret not doing it. And it will probably bring your career rise to a halt if you say no. Besides, you haven't listed a single reason for NOT doing it. So I think you've answered your own question. New challenges are always a little scary, hence your posting this. You've met all the challenges they've thrown at you so far. Go with this one.
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Old 10-18-14, 08:41 AM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

You have been around long enough to know if they are trying to get you out the door.

Assuming they are not, I rarely recommend turning down a job you are offered or are approached about. Leadership wants people who are flexible, open to knew things, can be counted on when change comes around.

Most people "just want to keep doing what I've always done". By demonstrating flexibility, you are setting yourself apart from them. Assuming your not near retirement, do well in this new role and you will likely be offered another one in a couple years.
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Old 10-18-14, 11:45 AM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
You have been around long enough to know if they are trying to get you out the door.
I'm glad you mention this. I left this out because I wanted to keep my post short (ha!), but I thought it might come up. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but needless to say, I've seen many people who quit, were laid off, or just plain fired over the years. They don't play games with "fake promotions" or anything like that. "Terminated without cause" has come up a few times for my ex-colleagues. So, if they wanted me gone... I'd be gone.

Assuming they are not, I rarely recommend turning down a job you are offered or are approached about. Leadership wants people who are flexible, open to knew things, can be counted on when change comes around.

Most people "just want to keep doing what I've always done". By demonstrating flexibility, you are setting yourself apart from them. Assuming your not near retirement, do well in this new role and you will likely be offered another one in a couple years.
And this is why I'm leaning towards doing it. I'm only 32, so retirement is decades away. While I've kind of been stuck doing what I've always done, it's not what I've wanted in the bigger picture. This "Jason" manager specifically asked for me, and because of my professional history with him, I trust him, even if he's almost ready to retire (2 years tops, I think).

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
Do it. You'll regret not doing it. And it will probably bring your career rise to a halt if you say no. Besides, you haven't listed a single reason for NOT doing it. So I think you've answered your own question. New challenges are always a little scary, hence your posting this. You've met all the challenges they've thrown at you so far. Go with this one.
Very good points as well, Ash. If I had to give a single reason for not doing it, it's the fear of abysmal failure.

Actually, to expand on that a little, I've seen one colleague go "up the chain" a little quickly, and it ended up badly for him. In this organization, people rarely get a chance to go sideways, and they definitely don't like making people go down a level if it's not working out. So my fear here is that I'll have the same fate as that guy. That said, he's the only one that I personally know of that had that particular fate... but he was my direct supervisor for my first year on the job.

In the big picture, I understand the politics better than most, but not all.
My job is to make my boss and my boss's boss look good. How I do that is based on my skills, but that's pretty much it.
I think I've done that well in my current role (which I've only been doing for a year), and the fact that my boss's boss thinks this might be a good move actually plays a big part in how I'm thinking about this.
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Old 10-18-14, 12:20 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

You're in Calgary. If you're alive you can have a job. I think even if you're dead there are job openings for you.

No one's getting rid of people piecemeal here.
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Old 10-18-14, 12:31 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Point being? I can take the risk because, even if I fail, someone else will hire me? I guess that's true.
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Old 10-18-14, 01:26 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

No one's trying to sneakily force you out.
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Old 10-18-14, 01:26 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

It sounds like you've really worked your way up in your company, and this promotion/new job title seems more like natural progression given circumstances.

I really can't offer much advice here, simply because I have never had a career trajectory within one company. I'm still young, but the problem I've personally run in to is that once I prove how efficient I am at my job managers do everything in their power to not let me move up (this is happening where I work now). I ended up quitting my last job for that very reason.

The fact that this opportunity is there for you I think speaks volumes on your ability to pick up anything here and run with it. This will not pigeon-hole (pun intended? I can't tell by your avatar) you if don't let it. Getting that additional experience under your belt can only benefit you in the long run. Add to your skills, don't just settle with what you have.

Good luck.
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Old 10-18-14, 01:36 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Originally Posted by Shazam View Post
No one's trying to sneakily force you out.
Yeah, I'm confident of that. Like I said, if they didn't want me around, the conversation on Friday would not have happened. I'd be posting a very different thread.

Originally Posted by My Other Self View Post
It sounds like you've really worked your way up in your company, and this promotion/new job title seems more like natural progression given circumstances.

I really can't offer much advice here, simply because I have never had a career trajectory within one company. I'm still young, but the problem I've personally run in to is that once I prove how efficient I am at my job managers do everything in their power to not let me move up (this is happening where I work now). I ended up quitting my last job for that very reason.
Oh man. I know exactly how you feel. Before I worked for this company, I was in retail. I was THE BEST at my job (receiving, which sounds easy but you'd be surprised how many people fuck that up...). I only managed to move "up" because they found out that I was dating one of the supervisors, so I got transferred to a different location. It was only a few months later when I quit to work for the company I'm at now.

The fact that this opportunity is there for you I think speaks volumes on your ability to pick up anything here and run with it. This will not pigeon-hole (pun intended? I can't tell by your avatar) you if don't let it. Getting that additional experience under your belt can only benefit you in the long run. Add to your skills, don't just settle with what you have.
It's a carrier pigeon. Also, this is valuable input. In a way, I was pigeon-holed as a maintenance guy, at least in terms of what I could put on a resume. I think this new option would give me some objectively new skills that are unrelated.

Good luck.
Thanks.

Last edited by Dan; 10-18-14 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 10-18-14, 03:30 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Way to go Dan! I don't think there is any question about taking the job ... Sounds more like you are a little shy about what to expect. It also sounds as if you have come up through the ranks in a process known as "unnatural selection." In other words, you were good at your job so you were moved up into new roles without any formal training. You are right: this can be a pitfall for some people. In all reality, failure is rarely the fault of the individual as the individual was likely ill-prepared for the job and given little to no support from the people who put him/her there.

Do not hesitate to ask about this in your interview. "I am really excited about this opportunity; could you provide some clarity on what the expectations will be?"

In fact, you can use this as an opportunity. "It sounds as if this is a new role in the company. Will I have the opportunity to help shape and define the position?"

Do not be afraid to ask questions. It is a critical faux pas to go into an interview and not ask intelligent questions about the position or it's expectations.
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Old 10-18-14, 08:15 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I'd do whichever one you might enjoy the most over the rest of your career (or at least near future). Challenges are great, but not for everyone and could be overwhelming. Outside of that, things I would think about would be whether there's any risk in either the new job or the current one with the company in the future; like whether there's any hint that sort of position would change again or ever be removed. And short of that, money even if it may not be a major concern for you at the moment.
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Old 10-18-14, 09:32 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I hope you do it, Dan. You'll be great.

It sounds like these are people who want to invest in you and your success. Your success is their success and they wouldn't ask if they weren't prepared to give you the resources you need to do the job. I'm currently in a three-year "probationary" period in my new job and while there's always pressure to succeed or else, there is so much support and cheerleading for me that it would take some pretty major blunders on my part for something to go wrong. I offer that as anecdotal evidence to counter your anecdotal evidence of the guy you know at work who was promoted and then it crumbled. Sometimes "evidence" isn't evidence at all. Sometimes, you've got to go with your gut.

Sounds like you have a good idea on what will help you succeed, too, wanting that performance review. It may be worth creating some sort of support system for how to ask questions, log responses, do some training on what to do to build your real and perceived competency on the job. SMART Goals will be your friend in a transition like this. Maybe even ask if your new supervisor will spring for you to do Strength Finders or if the new team is up to doing one of those inventories (many names, can't remember the name of the one I did but it was great) that tells you who is a Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker.

You'll do great!
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Old 10-20-14, 02:07 AM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I definitely agree that you should do it. I'm in the middle of a career change myself, so I definitely know the fear of taking that first leap.
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Old 10-20-14, 10:09 AM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I'm super disappointed in Otter. Not a single joke post among the bunch! The fun is gone.

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Way to go Dan! I don't think there is any question about taking the job ... Sounds more like you are a little shy about what to expect. It also sounds as if you have come up through the ranks in a process known as "unnatural selection." In other words, you were good at your job so you were moved up into new roles without any formal training. You are right: this can be a pitfall for some people. In all reality, failure is rarely the fault of the individual as the individual was likely ill-prepared for the job and given little to no support from the people who put him/her there.

Do not hesitate to ask about this in your interview. "I am really excited about this opportunity; could you provide some clarity on what the expectations will be?"

In fact, you can use this as an opportunity. "It sounds as if this is a new role in the company. Will I have the opportunity to help shape and define the position?"

Do not be afraid to ask questions. It is a critical faux pas to go into an interview and not ask intelligent questions about the position or it's expectations.
Yes, you're absolutely right. I think of it this way. I don't usually make a good first impression on most people. I'm aware of this, and it's something I've improved upon since my early-20's, but I've definitely got room to grow in that area. BUT, time and time again, I always end up proving my strengths in my actual work, not in the politics. I don't really play the politics game at work, although I understand it enough to keep a good reputation. I've added both of your suggested questions to my list. Thanks!

Originally Posted by fumanstan View Post
I'd do whichever one you might enjoy the most over the rest of your career (or at least near future). Challenges are great, but not for everyone and could be overwhelming. Outside of that, things I would think about would be whether there's any risk in either the new job or the current one with the company in the future; like whether there's any hint that sort of position would change again or ever be removed. And short of that, money even if it may not be a major concern for you at the moment.
That's the thing. I'm always up for a good challenge (I mean, I finished Dishonored with no kills and no detections, so... ), but you're right, they're not for everyone. In this particular case, I think there's little to no risk of the position going away, but I could see it being redefined as management gets a better grasp of what it is they really need.

Originally Posted by story View Post
I hope you do it, Dan. You'll be great.

It sounds like these are people who want to invest in you and your success. Your success is their success and they wouldn't ask if they weren't prepared to give you the resources you need to do the job. I'm currently in a three-year "probationary" period in my new job and while there's always pressure to succeed or else, there is so much support and cheerleading for me that it would take some pretty major blunders on my part for something to go wrong. I offer that as anecdotal evidence to counter your anecdotal evidence of the guy you know at work who was promoted and then it crumbled. Sometimes "evidence" isn't evidence at all. Sometimes, you've got to go with your gut.

Sounds like you have a good idea on what will help you succeed, too, wanting that performance review. It may be worth creating some sort of support system for how to ask questions, log responses, do some training on what to do to build your real and perceived competency on the job. SMART Goals will be your friend in a transition like this. Maybe even ask if your new supervisor will spring for you to do Strength Finders or if the new team is up to doing one of those inventories (many names, can't remember the name of the one I did but it was great) that tells you who is a Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker.

You'll do great!
Thanks! Your anecdotal evidence is helpful. And in the case of the other guy, I don't believe he had a whole lot of support. I can already see, in my case, that management wants me to succeed, regardless of my decision. I love the idea of the support system for questions/responses/training/etc! That's really what I need in order to keep my mind at ease. It's funny, in my current role, I'm actually part of a Q&A system where employees from all over send in queries, they get assigned to experts (ie: me), and we provide the required information. What you've suggested is just a TINY version of the same thing (in a different context, obviously), but would require me to do the logging myself, which is reasonable.

Originally Posted by Living Dead View Post
I definitely agree that you should do it. I'm in the middle of a career change myself, so I definitely know the fear of taking that first leap.
Good to know I'm not the only one.

My second meeting with "Jason" should be today or tomorrow.
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Old 10-20-14, 03:19 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I recently made a huge change in my career too. I was in engineering/QA for 15 years and decided I needed something else. I moved into technical account management, and even though it's been only 2 months, it was the best thing I've done for my career. I stayed at the same company, so I have a ton of context and knowledge that transferred, but I went from being isolated in the nerd realm to having to deal with actual live customers on a daily basis - and it totally reinvigorated me. I do miss the personal challenge of engineering somewhat - but knowing that I'm actually helping customers use our shit even better is more exhilarating. Even when getting bitched at.

So - Do it.
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Old 10-20-14, 03:24 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I keep thinking this thread is going to be about Jews or Jam.
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Old 10-21-14, 12:37 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I would take the job. Details on your responsibilities were a little short, but from the vibe of your post, I'd say go for it.
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Old 10-21-14, 01:47 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

So I had my second meeting. Went well, but we agreed that I should meet with the big boss to get some questions answered. The tone of the meeting was great, so I'm not worried. I did mention money as an issue, in the context of changing from a 'worker bee' to someone who could potentially be managing others within 12 months.

VinVega, based on this meeting, here's what I can say (again, kind of vague, but...)

I would take certain responsibilities from other personnel. This would include most communication with our customers (all internal to the major organization, some of which are... difficult), understanding and parsing data from business systems (purchasing, invoicing, repairs orders, etc.), and once I have a grasp of things, following through with suggested improvements to processes and systems in order to reduce the frequency of issues, the cost of issues, and almost the most important thing, the entire timeline for customer issues to be addressed. If you've heard of "Lean" parts of this job are pretty much a function of that culture.

I'd be dropping the majority of my current duties wholesale. No more docs. No more training. etc. Some things will remain, as they are directly related to the new role and if someone ELSE were taking this new job, I'd be handing over those responsibilities to them.

Management will look at outlining a "map" of my own training over the next couple years to get me up to speed on everything I need. It really sounds like they've got my back here.

Biggest downside to all of this: I currently share an office, and I'll likely be sharing another office with an entirely different person. I work much much better on my own, but... \_(ツ)_/ I can manage. It's definitely not a deal breaker.

So yeah... meeting with big boss is later today. Nothing's official until they give me an offer letter. Unfortunately, I've seen these kinds of things fall apart at the last minute for others, but if I'm getting the job, I'll get the official offer in the next two to three weeks.

Did I mention that my current boss is not happy about any of this? ...
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Old 10-21-14, 03:06 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Your current boss is probably not happy because he will have to "train" someone else to do your job. No easy task from the sound of it.
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Old 10-21-14, 04:09 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I have a question for you: how on earth did the username "Dan" last until Feb 2005?!?!?
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Old 10-21-14, 04:18 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

It didn't. I took it over when the admins let us change names (last year?)

The previous Dan had, like, 2 posts in 1999 and never returned. He was badass.
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Old 10-21-14, 04:32 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Sounds like they trust you and think you have what it takes to learn on the job. Sounds like a good opportunity based on what you've posted.
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Old 10-21-14, 05:29 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

I just want to thank everyone again for the input. It really helped me sort stuff out.

No official end to this story just yet, unfortunately, but I'll update when necessary for those that are interested.
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Old 10-21-14, 05:44 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

So what was your old username?
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Old 10-21-14, 05:46 PM
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Re: YAJT: Changing career paths. What's a guy to do?

Originally Posted by shazam View Post
so what was your old username?
sony_fan_4ever
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