Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Early Lessons Learned

This is a very momentous day for me, both personally and professionally. Today marks the end of my undergraduate career. 5 long years. At times frustrating, revealing, arduous. But always rewarding. My final semester examinations could not have gone any better. I was very prepared for each and every one of them. I probably took my most despised (Wastewater and Engineering Economics) and most loved (Law) courses of my entire career here. And yet the result should be (nothing is guaranteed yet) positive all around.

The experiences I had in my Law class were phenomenal. It made me consider a career in Law. A JD is a very difficult process. I’ve seen the effort that Devin and Alphonso have put into their first year law programme. It’s not that I am incapable of it. I don’t think that I have the emotional fortitude at this point of my life to complete something like that. I do know that I would enjoy it, immensely.

What I am seriously considering is an MBA. It is often said that every graduating engineer considers it. But after having it lie latent in my conscious thought for several months, I am sincerely considering it. I feel that it is only a matter of funding at this point. If I can raise the funds, I will definitely apply. I sincerely wish that I had taken the opportunity to take more Business and Commerce courses throughout my time here at Queen’s. It took me 4 years to understand the value of these principals to my engineering background.

Today was an emotional day. Not only am I leaving behind a large portion of my somewhat “adult” life, (actually my transition into adult life) but today I learned the biggest lesson of my professional life to date. People and companies will say and do anything to keep you, at that particular point in time. I was promised the moon at the company that I previously worked for. It was always about what I would get in the future; once I graduated. And now that I am approaching that time, the promise remains unfulfilled. I would expect to receive, at a minimum, what I can get elsewhere. What other companies deem to be my worth, based on my knowledge base and experiences. However, this appears to mean nothing to my former employer. This has finally signaled to me that I need to seriously reconsider what I will be doing once I graduate at the end of May.

I sent what I would consider to be a well thought out and careful response to the offer that I finally received from them. A few of my major points:

I felt it to be both redundant and inappropriate for me to require a probationary period. After having worked for them for 12 full months, they are fully aware of my level of competence. I have also shown loyalty, in returning to them last summer, although I had a more attractive offer elsewhere.

Salary, obviously. I have another offer that stands at $5,000 more per year, from a larger construction company, but in a lower, entry level role. With better benefits. And more opportunity for growth. And more opportunities in terms of variety of projects.

I was told that there is "little to no room for negotiations." I simply cannot accept their offer as it stands, and it looks like I'll be moving on.

Regardless, the lesson I took from this: Don’t believe anything that someone promises you in the business world. Make them back it up. I should have made them extend me a written offer last summer, BEFORE I went back to work for them. Ah well, lesson learned.