Looking for career advice!! Please help me!

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Nov 3, 2022
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I (24F) need career advice desperately. Please, please help!!

Am I making a mistake in my career?

Looking for some advice because I am worried I am making a mistake in my career. For a little background, I (24F) graduated undergrad in May 2020 so I’ve been working for a land dev firm in the Midwest for about 2.5 years. I also interned with the same company for 2 consecutive summers while I was doing undergrad. Basically, they have done a lot for my growth as an engineer and I know they are thankful I am on their team. They treat me very well, don’t put too much pressure on me, and have given me very good training. I will say I am underpaid based on averages in my city, but I have gotten good bonuses and raises each year.

I don’t really enjoy what I do day to day, but I also don’t hate it. Sometimes it can get pretty stressful but there is always someone around that I can ask questions. I mainly design single family residential or commercial projects - grading, utilities, plans. I started looking for other jobs recently just to see what else is out there - nothing too serious. I got an interview with a company that does underwater design and inspection and I got the job! This job really interests me, but I have no idea if I will like it or not because I have only done land development.

I am at a loss because part of me wants to try something new, but I don’t want to end up regretting it and burning any bridges. Do you guys think if I end up not liking it my current company would take me back? Is this common in the industry? Or would it ruin any chances I have of growth within my current employer.

I should mention that the new job is in a city across the country that I have always wanted to live in, but I am scared of relocating.

I am so conflicted because half of me feels like I can’t imagine being in land development the rest of my life but the other half feels like I could be making a professional mistake with a good company that cares about me as a person.

Any advice appreciated! Thanks!!!
The classic underpaid but learning a lot vs better pay and unknown job dilemma is a personal choice and you're relatively new to working so you may not have enough data from your network to make the best decision. Personally I went for the compensation with the reasoning that it will better enable me to pursue my ventures outside of work.

Regarding going back to your old job after leaving, I've seen it happen once, but I would not count on it as typical or even the best move. What I've usually seen is people go to a new company, find out it sucks after 2 years, and then leave to another company but this the benefit of growing your salary faster since changing jobs you typically target 10-20% raises. As for the unknown, use this time while you are young and early in your career to branch out professionally and geographically. Relocation only gets harder as the years go by.
I agree with the previous post. It sounds to me like you want a change but are getting cold feet. It is natural to feel apprehensive about change. It is a personal decision to stick with your comfort zone or branch out and try something new. If you don't like the new arrangement other opportunities will arise but don't expect the old one to be there. In the private sector, most people I know move from company to company in order to move up the ladder.
this is not a complicated decision, but one that requires some thought. Let me help you work through the calculus of the decision.

A. Yu can stand on your head for 2 years if you have to. Seems like you have done that, learned a lot, have been well trained and overall, have had a good run at your career. There is no job that you are happy 100% of the time, none. If you have satisfied abut 75% of the time, you are on target. There are always things that none of us like. I don't like bookkeeping, however, I do it because I have to.

B. You think that you have learned all you can in your current tasks-- well, there is more to learn, but it is fair to want to try something else. The broader scope of skills you have, the more employable you are.

C. You went fishing and caught a fish! OK, no what? I would say take the job and move. You will never know if it was a good decision until you go-- remember what I said above, you can stand on your head if you have to for 2 years!

D. MOVE-- go to the new town, get settled and start work. Expect to work hard to learn the new job. Get involved in the community-- whatever it is that you like-- YWCA, gym, church, food bank, big brothers/Big Sisters-- find one activity there you are interested in and get involved there. You need to meet people-- this does that.

E. Find a faith group and attend. I know, you are not religious. got it-- attend a faith group of some ilk-- go every Sabbath day-- you gain a different perspective for an hour-- most faith groups have a coffee hour-- you will meet people. Note I did not say that you had to "convert" or do annything other than attend-- you just need to have a different perspective on life. Go to several groups until you find one that you fit in. Again, you are meeting people and hearing a different perspective on the world. After all, it is only an hour-- DO IT.

F. Burn no bridges. Your old firm may take you back-- however, don't use that as a crutch. Get out and go-- you will be amazed to find what is out here.

Good Luck-- this will work out fine.
This one is easy-change jobs, the growth and new relationships that will come out of it are well worth it! Life is too short and you do not want to get to the point at your current job where you resent the situation too much and it turns toxic.
If you do change jobs I would suggest working out some time off before you start your new job and take a vacation if that’s something you enjoy. Most employers especially if they really like you will understand. One of the greatest things I’ll always cherish is going backpacking for two months in Costa Rica when I left my first job out of college. At that time I wasn’t settled down yet so it was easy but I was still nervous about it and I only had a few thousand bucks to travel on. It opened up my mind and I met a lot of interesting people. Good luck sounds like a good opportunity!