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Accepted a job offer

  1. Oct 19, 2011 #1


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    I accepted a job offer today for a program manager position at a large international company. It's a 6 month contract job it will be extended another 6 months upon acceptable performance. After the 12 month they will consider hiring me direct.

    I have an EE degree and the position will have lots of elements of engineering involved. I will be doing a lot of support engineering tasks.

    They offered $20/hr plus time and a half overtime and they said I will get "a lot" of overtime. I'm not sure what "a lot" means. I live in a relatively low cost of living area. If I can put in like 10 hrs of overtime a week I will make about what the average starting salary is in my area for an EE (I am a couple years out of college and I have about 1.5 yrs post-BS experience in the field plus internships).

    I feel like this job will be a great opportunity for me (challenging, nice coworkers from what I could tell from the interview, interesting and fulfilling work) and the opportunity for growth is excellent at this company but I feel like I should be making a bit more money. What do you think?
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2011 #2
  4. Oct 20, 2011 #3


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    Plus I have a whole lot of student loans and I will barely be able to get by on what they are paying me afte rpaying my student loan payments.
  5. Oct 20, 2011 #4


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    I tried. It was set in stone.

    They said they were very impressed with how I handled the technical quiz during the interview so it seems like I'd have some bargaining power.
  6. Oct 20, 2011 #5
    The only way you have any bargaining power is if you are willing to walk away from it. But the time to negotiate was *before* you accepted it. "$20/hr? No, I couldn't possibly do it for less than $X/hr..."

    If you've already accepted and feel like it will be a great opportunity, just enjoy it! You don't really need a bunch of internet kibitzers telling you if you did OK or not.
  7. Oct 20, 2011 #6


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    I asked the headhunter if he could do$ 23-25/hr and he said the $20/hr was what they pay all their entry level people.

    I think the program manager experience will be well worth it. I think I have the opportunity to grow into better positions with better pay in the future at this company. Plus I think I will learn a ton and weat many different hats in this role.
  8. Oct 20, 2011 #7
    For central Texas, NYC, and the Bay Area that sounds extremely low for a program manager, but you might want to check with Glassdoor.com.

    You can always ask. They can always say no.

    If you are in the US, you could try to negotiate to get paid via a 1099 rather than a W-2, at which point you can start deducting everything under the sun as business expenses. Also go to the bookstore and get some books on tax planning for small businesses. If you incorporate yourself as an S-corporation and then run your own payroll, there are some huge tax savings. Also running your own payroll is something that I think everyone should do once, because you get to see how the money gets moved around.

    If that doesn't work, one thing that you can try to negotiate on is either health benefits or guaranteed time off.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  9. Oct 20, 2011 #8
    At that point there isn't much you can do. You might be able to negotiate some fringe benefits, and do some clever tax planning, but it's basically take it or leave it.
  10. Oct 20, 2011 #9
    That seriously worries me. The terms "program manager" and "entry level" don't go together.

    I suppose your first job is something like your first love. There is a bit of innocence that you lose once you've been around a while. One thing that helps is to think of everything as an educational experience. You may find that you've signed up for the job from hell, but sometimes even bad experiences are useful.
  11. Oct 20, 2011 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    I'm with twofish on this one- in my experience, "program managers" had a reasonable amount of experience managing people before becoming a program manager. Also, the program managers I know do 0% technical work and 100% managerial tasks.

    All I'm saying is that it's possible this job is not what you expect it to be (but, congratulations on getting a job in this environment). What will your duties be?
  12. Oct 20, 2011 #11
    I learned in golf that you don't make or lose your money with the driver off the tee, short irons in the fairway, or the putter on the green. You make or lose money on the first tee when you set the bet. If you accepted $20/hr, that's your bet. Live with it for now. You are new, and haven't yet proven your worth. Don't engender bad will for a couple more bucks per hour. In this economy, be glad to have a job. Work better with others than anyone else. Be willing to do more than anyone else. Be willing to work the hours it takes to get the job done. After you have proven yourself, you can go to the boss and tell him your cost of living; college loans, etc. are eating you up, and ask him if there is anything he can do on your base pay to help out.

    As for those "jobs from hell", been there, done that, several times. Each time you learn something. Often times when you change jobs or talk to peers that may be hiring and tell them things you've done, you'll get smiles, wows, and maybe an offer. But, when you tell them of the jobs from hell, do it with a smile, never bitching. They will be impressed with your willingness to step up and get any job done, even the hard crappy ones.
  13. Oct 20, 2011 #12


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    Well, the interview was VERY technical (lots of technical questions about EE and C++...the most technical interview I have been on) so I assume my role will be technical in nature as well. My title is program manager / support engineer. They said I will wear multiple hats since the office is a pretty small branch with a lot of responsibility.
  14. Oct 20, 2011 #13
    1) Congrats on accepting a job offer! Seems to be hard to find these days and particularly in this forum.

    2) I agree with the others that $20/hr seems low to have a title of program manager. Maybe you'll actually be doing more of the 'support'.
  15. Oct 20, 2011 #14
    That is indeed strange, where I work, program managers are more senior people that are in charge of multi-million dollar multi-year projects. Its a position you work up to and usually requires at least 6 years experience.

    I'd say the most junior ones make ~85K and more senior over a hundred.
  16. Oct 20, 2011 #15
    In Microsoft terminology, a program manager is simply someone who designs and writes spec for the program. A program manager there is at exactly the same level as a software engineer.

    A long time ago, a Microsoft program manager was really the head architect who delegates programming tasks to junior people. But that scheme failed, so they rebranded this title.

    I think it's possible that different places have different definitions for this title.
  17. Oct 20, 2011 #16
    I feel like someone that has been through many nasty divorces talking to a newlywed that is about to go off to their honeymoon. I don't want to spoil the mood, and it's probably better if you just keep what I'm about to tell you in the back your mind, and don't think about it too much. Even if the company you work for turns out to be total hell, you want to go in with a positive attitude and give everyone the benefit of the doubt but.......

    What worries me is that in every company that I've worked for, the "program manager" is **THE BOSS**. They are tasked with keep the project on schedule which means not only having a great deal of responsibility but a great deal of power. They give the orders about what people do, they also have power to negotiate budgets and compensation, hire/fire people, and generally do what has to be done to keep the project on schedule.

    The problem is not responsibility but power. It is total hell if you are given responsibility without power. The program manager is given the responsibility to get the project on time and on budget, but they have the power to meet this responsibility. They can order people to work and not work on certain projects, move money from one account to another, and hire new people, and in extreme cases fire people. That's not the type of power that large companies typically give entry level people.

    The best scenario I can think of is that "program manager" means something different in your new company. (A good example of this is that "vice president" is an impressive title in a manufacturing company, but it means that you are a worker bee in an investment bank. The term "captain" also means something radically different in the army or the navy.)

    The worst scenario that I can think of is that you actually will be given a huge amount of responsibility, but you will not be given any power to carry out that responsibility.
  18. Oct 20, 2011 #17
    That's actually quite funny, because my old company adopted Microsoft terminology and we actually had training courses taught by Microsoft trainers in which we were given Microsoft-approved training materials.

    What ended up happening was that program management jobs very quickly ended up having responsibility for the entire schedule which meant that they also had responsibility for personnel and budgeting, so they effectively became the boss of the projects. The PM usually was mostly management. The technical decisions ended up being given to the "development lead" and you ended with a "cabinet" headed by the PM, with the sales lead, and testing lead. There is a fundamental tension between development, testing, and sales, and the PM was the person that managed the tension.

    The structure worked quite well. One reason I think it worked for us and it didn't work for Microsoft was that the PM was not a programmer (even if they did have CS background they weren't wearing the programmer hat). The PM wasn't responsible for architecture decisions. That was the job of the dev lead (i.e. me).

    The way that senior management sold this structure was "this is what Microsoft does."

    Ironically, it appears that in Microsoft, being a "vice president" is a big deal. I was in a conversation with someone which didn't make any sense until we realized that "vice president" at Microsoft means something very different than being a VP at Goldman-Sachs or Morgan Stanley.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  19. Oct 20, 2011 #18


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    Thanks for your insight guys. I think this company just defines the role of a program manager differently than other companies. If I recall correctly, the position called for 2 years of experience and the job description seemed pretty basic to me (not much detail). From what they told me, I will be acting as a liaison between the Korean headquarters and the Detroit customers within the automotive industry. Also, I will be resolving technical issues that come up with next gen products.

    From what I can see the title of PROJECT manager / support engineer is a more suitable title and after ~8-10 hrs overtime a week I get paid about what an entry level project manager makes to start out.

    It sounded like a fairly demanding job from their description during the interview, but it also seemed interesting. My last job wasn't particularly interested or challenging at all so this iwll be an interesting experience.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  20. Oct 20, 2011 #19
    That makes sense. What they call a "program manager" seems to be what would be called a "development lead" the technology companies that I've worked for.

    One thing that is funny is that in a lot of high-tech companies, no one wants to be a "manager" but everyone wants to be a "leader." The stereotype of a "manager" is the PHB from Dilbert, whereas Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are "leaders." Also, some companies don't have job titles. What's really funny is that I've been working in my current company for several years and I don't know what my job title is.

    In the companies I've worked for, an entry level "project manager" is an oxymoron.

    Also, whatever works, works. Usually there are good reasons why different names end up meaning something different, but often hard to get your mind around different terms. What happens is that certain words end up having a strong emotional meaning. Someone says "the program manager is upset and would like a meeting with you" and my stomach immediately turns.

    One other thing that was funny was that when we were doing Microsoft training it turns out that we had "program managers", "project managers", and "product managers" and it took us literally six months before everyone had everything straight.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
  21. Oct 20, 2011 #20
    I don't know mate...$20/hr is like the base-level salary for working at a supermarket here in Australia. The US and Australian dollar is pretty similar at the moment, so working off that, getting paid $20/hr as an engineer with a degree is a slap in the face.

    Heck, working at some restaurants and as a bartender can get you paid $25/hr+

    If the job situation is tight, stick with it for now. But I'd definitely be doing some negotiating after a while if it was me, but as in any situation, it's up to you, so don't go off based on hearsay and conjecture on this forum.
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