Should I say no to my first federal job?

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easym
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Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by easym »

Hello everyone, I am working as a teacher in a chartered school and as an adjunct instructor at local community College. I have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineer and PhD in material science, currently pursuing MBA. I was applying for federal jobs mostly in Texas for the past year, after several applications I got an interview last month, it was a mechanical engineer G-9 position at DLA, whitehall ohio. I have zero experience as engineer, all my experience is from teaching. I received email last week with a tentative offer for the ohio job, they pay $68000 starting, which could double if I move to GS12 grade, now I make $58000 and my house is paid for, my wife is also making $58000 here in south Texas. My wife is against moving to ohio, she thinks it's a lateral move, since the money is not a big compared to what I make now but it can go up as i move up to G-12 grade. My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me. My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job. It is hard for me to say no for a federal job. Should I take this federal job at ohio?
Jeepguy
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Jeepguy »

Is this an offer for a career ladder? Like starting as a GS9 and in a year will be GS11? It sounds like a significant hardship for you to take the position if the result would be to split up the family. Why are you interested in working for the federal government, are you unhappy in your current job?
Sam_957
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Sam_957 »

No way. Money needs to be immediately better and have a plan to reunite the family in short order. Assuming your kid lives with you and the wife, she will be single parenting. Your wife may also be trying to say that she will be depressed.
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Mike Scott
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Mike Scott »

I would wait for something that works better for the family.
Swampy
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Swampy »

Mike Scott wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 7:59 pm I would wait for something that works better for the family.
The weather is better in Texas than Ohio, especially between October through March.

That is worth something!
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rich126
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by rich126 »

Federal jobs can provide a lot of perks especially if you aren't in a high paying career field. You might also be able to transfer after a couple of years. Can't speak about family or Ohio.

Some places provide a promotion ladder which is very good.
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leeks
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by leeks »

I would not consider taking a job in another state unless wife and daughter would go too.
Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me.
Isn’t this basically a non-starter?
Silk McCue
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Silk McCue »

Based on that full set of circumstances that would be a hard pass for me. You may lose something far more valuable/precious than
a Federal job when it is all said and done.

Cheers
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm My wife is against moving to ohio, she thinks it's a lateral move, since the money is not a big compared to what I make now but it can go up as i move up to G-12 grade. My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me. My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job.
Don't do it. Listen to your wife and daughter. Family is the most important thing.
bltn
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by bltn »

The family is more important than the job.
Blue456
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Blue456 »

Be careful. Some federal jobs can have high turn over.
tigermilk
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by tigermilk »

With a PhD in materials science, how about https://www.usajobs.gov/job/775593600

Act quick,the posting closes Tuesday. GS-13 and much closer to south Texas than Ohio. Houston also has one of the highest locality pays in the country.
Diluted Waters
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Diluted Waters »

The above replies should be first and foremost in your mind, unless you'd like to trade your family for a fed job in Ohio.

All that aside, my view of fed jobs as a retired 30+ year government contractor who interfaced with government overlords for years is you have to be satisfied in life with a substantially rigid, primitive compliance-based culture every day for your career and be tolerant of mediocrity.

Heaven help you if you stumble into something political. It doesn't matter if it's your fault. If you can be blamed then expect to be thrown in a volcano as human sacrifice so the politicians above you can duck out with minimal damage. Your PhD might give you a little influence or respect.

In exchange you can get extraordinary job stability, interesting opportunities given you play ball and pretty decent retirement and welfare benefits.

Government contractor positions may pay more, sometimes much more, and have reasonably comparable benefits and buffer some of the low to moderate levels of political insanity I've described above. It's possible to have a fulfilling career there at and below middle management.
vxdx
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by vxdx »

Swampy wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 8:02 pm
Mike Scott wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 7:59 pm I would wait for something that works better for the family.
The weather is better in Texas than Ohio, especially between October through March.

That is worth something!
I’ve lived in both, and I’d rather live in Ohio.

However I’d live in Antarctica if it meant living with wife and children.
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warner25
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by warner25 »

Definitely don't take the job. I think you're applying to the wrong jobs with a STEM PhD. Where I've worked with federal civilians (2210 series in the DoD), most were in the GS-11 to GS-13 range and either had a bachelor's degree from a diploma mill or no college degree at all.
LSGP_545
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by LSGP_545 »

Given your circumstances, I would say no - and that's coming from a fed with almost 18 years in. The federal system is a weird animal and depending on on which agency you work for it could be great to downright miserable. I'm in the downright miserable phase, but I have 2 more years to go until I reach retirement eligibity so I can tolerate the misery until then. The pros have been stable work, great benefits, and for me steady career progression. I also work in an agency with some GS15s that have no higher education and it shows. They have simply "done their time" and promoted up over the years. Naval Systems Sea Command, Air Force Research Laboratory, Missile Defense Agency are other places to look at - there are numerous oportunites out there so keep looking.
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Metsfan91
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Metsfan91 »

Say no for now. Family first! Stay with family.
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TheRoundHeadedKid
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by TheRoundHeadedKid »

I would say yes, take the job. It is a short-term pain for long term gain. Promotions to GS-13 is pretty much automatic. Just need to put in the time. There is job security until retirement. It gets your foot in the door for using your degrees. After a while you can transfer out to other Federal jobs. Compared to your current job, it may be a lateral move, but you can move up faster. The benefits at a federal job are superior to teaching jobs at cash strapped community colleges. With your MBA and teaching skills, you'll have a leg up on getting promoted to a supervisor, getting you past GS-13. Maybe before moving the family, try the Ohio job out for a few months then if you decide to stay then move the family later, like in the summer in between the kid's school years.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by cheese_breath »

Family is more important than money. I turned down a couple offers that would have required relocating, and I don't regret it.
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Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

Even if you ignore the family separation thing, the numbers don’t add up. Your family gets an extra ~ $7.5K in after tax income with the new job. However, you now have to pay rent in Ohio, and you lose the economy of scale with expenses like food/gas/utilities. Assuming you do want to visit family frequently, you could conceivably burn through all your extra income on travel expenses.

Bottom line is that you’ll suffer both a net loss for years and lower quality of life.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by muffins14 »

I don’t understand the allure of a federal job for 68k. At all.

Can’t you get more than 58k? You have a PhD and soon MBA. I would think you should easily get 100k in some engineering management role.

I would try to move to industry rather than teaching, if money is the goal. I assume Texas has plenty of engineering jobs.
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chemocean
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job

Post by chemocean »

As a retired federal supervisor with limited experience in academia, I would estimate that you will be losing purchasing power in your present teaching positions.
You really need to figure out if and how you wish to use your education in employment, engineering, material science, management, engineering or teaching.
You are way over qualified for a GS-9 position, and you will be unhappy once you figure that out in Ohio.
My agency hires MS graduates at the GS-9 level, recent Ph.D.s at ate GS-11 level, and Ph. D. With post-doc experience at GS-12 level., assuming the degree is the field of the position. With special skills or taking on a variety of duties, you could advance to GS-13 level after some years with the organization. To get above GS-13, you need to move into management, which your MBA could be beneficial. Or gat a researcher position.
This advice applies to developing a CAREER in all types of employment, but especially to federal service:
1) Figure out what you want to do, 2) figure out who is doing it in a location that both you and your wife could move to, and then 3) start to network aiming to figure out who is the real hiring decision maker, 4) make contact with that person, hopefully in person. You might need to expend time and money in this efforrt.
Be prepared to answer the question from the hiring manager, Why aren’t you working in the material sciences with your Ph.D.
WeakOldGuy
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by WeakOldGuy »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm My wife is against moving to ohio, she thinks it's a lateral move, since the money is not a big compared to what I make now but it can go up as i move up to G-12 grade. My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me. My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job. It is hard for me to say no for a federal job. Should I take this federal job at ohio?
Hmm... you are wondering if you should move away from your wife and daughter to take a job in another state. Your wife thinks it is a bad idea and might adversely affect your daughter. So today you join an online investing community just so you can ask a bunch of total strangers to offer input/advice on what could be the most important decision you will ever make?

Something seems very wrong with this picture.
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the_wiki
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by the_wiki »

Do you want to stay married?

You likely won’t if you move to another state.
gips
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by gips »

“ My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job. It is hard for me to say no for a federal job. Should I take this federal job at ohio?”

The op didn’t say leave Texas for the job, he said “leave her” for the job, so it seems to me that the marriage is in the wind and op is asking if this job is a rationale to end the marriage.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Silk McCue »

gips wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:46 am “ My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job. It is hard for me to say no for a federal job. Should I take this federal job at ohio?”

The op didn’t say leave Texas for the job, he said “leave her” for the job, so it seems to me that the marriage is in the wind and op is asking if this job is a rationale to end the marriage.
In context “leave her for the job” seems to mean the child will see him as leaving her (the child).

Cheers
Parkinglotracer
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Parkinglotracer »

68K for a gov job with a PhD? Gov is going to have a tough time competing for folks with that …

No matter what the salary I’d find something that works for the family.
CaptainT
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by CaptainT »

Why won't wife and kid move? Is her job location based?
Do you want to be a teacher or engineer? Why are you getting an MBA? The longer you teach instead of work as an engineer the harder it will be to get an engineer job later. What does your wife do? Is that career path available in Ohio? What does she want as her career?
Can you work remotely for the Ohio job?

I would not apply for jobs you know you wouldn't want to accept.
All these above questions are ones that change answers and basically you and wife need to get on same page and discuss both of your career and life goals and support each other in them.
London
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by London »

I wouldn’t get 3 degrees to make $68k. And that’s ignoring all the other life issues this job presents.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by tashnewbie »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me. My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job.
This would be the end of the discussion for me.

Either all of you move together or none of you move.

That's how I would view this decision.

Keep looking for a job in Texas. You don't have to limit yourself to federal government opportunities. I would assume you have a very marketable skillset and should be able to make more than $68k.
MBB_Boy
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by MBB_Boy »

That's the hardest pass I've seen in a long while
Tundrama
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Tundrama »

I suggest remaining patient and don’t take the Ohio job. Keep applying for Federal positions that won’t impact the family so much.

The Feds have a ton of potential telework positions also.

Here is the good news. There is no employer on this planet (other than self employed…maybe) that compassionately suits a person who loves to take care of their family better than the US Government. None, nada, the best family friendly employer on this rock.

Federal government Annual leave, sick leave, holidays, etc, cannot be beat no matter what anyone here has to say. Pay May start low, but unless you decide you aren’t willing to take on more responsibility and supervision, there is a ton of opportunity for advancement.

There are many, many opportunities for promotions and indeed, no employer has more offices located throughout our country. Think about it, there are US government entities in all 50 states and then some. After your first job, most moves are paid by the agency.

I did 33 years with Feds. Worked my rear off and they got great service and I was compensated well and treated well. You are headed down the right path, but don’t stress your wife so much. The Feds also do a ton of one or two days on site and the remainder of hours worked from home. Good luck!
88Mike
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by 88Mike »

A PhD, engineering field and $58,000? Sorry but something really doesn't add up here.
Scubadude
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Scubadude »

Diluted Waters wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 9:22 pm The above replies should be first and foremost in your mind, unless you'd like to trade your family for a fed job in Ohio.

All that aside, my view of fed jobs as a retired 30+ year government contractor who interfaced with government overlords for years is you have to be satisfied in life with a substantially rigid, primitive compliance-based culture every day for your career and be tolerant of mediocrity.

Heaven help you if you stumble into something political. It doesn't matter if it's your fault. If you can be blamed then expect to be thrown in a volcano as human sacrifice so the politicians above you can duck out with minimal damage. Your PhD might give you a little influence or respect.

In exchange you can get extraordinary job stability, interesting opportunities given you play ball and pretty decent retirement and welfare benefits.

Government contractor positions may pay more, sometimes much more, and have reasonably comparable benefits and buffer some of the low to moderate levels of political insanity I've described above. It's possible to have a fulfilling career there at and below middle management.
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centrifuge41
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by centrifuge41 »

Folks upthread have said enough about base pay, location, and family dynamics. I'll take a stab at benefits.

Some folks think federal jobs have super awesome benefits. I beg to differ. If your agency offers just the typical OPM benefits (e.g. no extra agency-exclusive benefits), I'd say the benefits are good, but hardly outstanding.

Annual leave: 13 days a year for the first 3 years, then it bumps up to 19.5 days a year until you have 15 years of tenure. I can't say that's a lot. There's non-fed jobs out there that grant ~15 days of leave a year (and bump up to 20 days after x tenure).

Sick leave: 13 days a year. This is actually kind of a lot. Some workplaces lump annual leave and sick leave together. It's good to have a dedicated bucket.

Disability/life insurance: surprisingly expensive premiums. Unless the employee has suboptimal health and needs e.g. life insurance without needing a medical exam (upon entry), it's generally better to turn this down (FEGLI) and shop on e.g. term4sale

TSP (401k equivalent) match: 5%. That's not particularly high. Some employers give 6%, 7.5%, 13%. (Of course, other employers give a small 2% or 3%).

Health insurance. A ton of choices, sure. The feds cover ~72% of premiums. That's good, but I've also seen more generous employers (e.g. lower health insurance premiums for the employee/family).

Medical/dental (FEDVIP): It's fine, though I've seen lower premiums elsewhere.* There's no subsidy here, just a big group, so that makes sense.
*One of the popular health insurance plans, GEHA HDHP, includes very basic dental and vision. So some people get that and opt out of separate dental & vision.

Pension: There's 2 line of thoughts here:
1) A pension that gives you 1% of pay per year of service (high 3) (with a potential 10% bump-up) doesn't actually cover that much of your retirement needs. Plus you must pay in 4.4% of your salary.
2) It takes a massive portfolio to provide inflation-adjusted income worth 1% of pay per year (e.g. work 10 years and get 10% of your high-3 income, inflation adjusted, in retirement). From that lens, the present dollar value of the pension is huge.

Retirement medical benefits:
Given the right circumstances/conditions, one can retire at age 57 and still keep buying the health insurance at the employer-subsidized group rate (premiums are no longer income tax deductible, but that's small compared to being subsidized by ~72%). This is a wildcard benefit that is worth a lot. At 65, retired feds can keep using the health insurance + medicare. Others forego medicare entirely (very few people choose medicare and forgo the federal health insurance). This benefit is powerful but hard to value.

With that said, I would personally decline the opportunity. Pay is too low, and it's too far from the family. And yes, other than the pension + age 57+ health insurance, I do think the OPM benefits are weaker than at my former employer.
Big Dog
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Big Dog »

A G9 is basically starting salary for someone right out of college with a bachelor's. You will not just automatically move up to 12 unless folks above you retire opening that grade slot. If you wanted to step down in career, a comfy work life balance AND the family would move, then sure, consider it. Otherwise, hard pass.
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warner25
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job

Post by warner25 »

chemocean wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 11:25 pm...My agency hires MS graduates at the GS-9 level, recent Ph.D.s at ate GS-11 level, and Ph. D. With post-doc experience at GS-12 level., assuming the degree is the field of the position...
This is interesting, in to contrast to what I described earlier about routinely encountering people up to the GS-13 level who really only had a high school education. Does your agency have a hard time hiring like this?

I think I'm in this weird spot right now as a late-career military officer working on a PhD. I'm pretty certain that I could walk into a non-supervisory GS-13 or supervisory GS-14 position somewhere in the DoD relatively easily, but I have a lot of days in which clearing the bar for a PhD feels like an impossible task because I'm not smart enough, my research topic isn't novel enough, etc.

I guess it's also true that not all PhDs are created equal.
Last edited by warner25 on Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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warner25
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by warner25 »

centrifuge41 wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 11:16 am Some folks think federal jobs have super awesome benefits. I beg to differ. If your agency offers just the typical OPM benefits (e.g. no extra agency-exclusive benefits), I'd say the benefits are good, but hardly outstanding.
Well, it certainly depends on what you're comparing it to. The OP is "teaching in a chartered school and as an adjunct instructor at local community College," which sounds to me like zero benefits to speak of.

I will agree that when I first looked at FERS, I was surprised by how modest the pension was, given the way many people talk about it. From the perspective of being an active duty military officer, FERS requires one to work ~50% longer for less money. Many city and state government pension programs sound like they're much more generous (but maybe not if they aren't inflation adjusted and / or they exclude someone from SS?).
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galving
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by galving »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm Hello everyone, I am working as a teacher in a chartered school and as an adjunct instructor at local community College. I have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineer and PhD in material science, currently pursuing MBA. I was applying for federal jobs mostly in Texas for the past year, after several applications I got an interview last month, it was a mechanical engineer G-9 position at DLA, whitehall ohio. I have zero experience as engineer, all my experience is from teaching. I received email last week with a tentative offer for the ohio job, they pay $68000 starting, which could double if I move to GS12 grade, now I make $58000 and my house is paid for, my wife is also making $58000 here in south Texas. My wife is against moving to ohio, she thinks it's a lateral move, since the money is not a big compared to what I make now but it can go up as i move up to G-12 grade. My family ( i have a soon to be 4 year old daughter) is not going to move with me. My wife thinks my daughter will be depressed if i leave her for the job. It is hard for me to say no for a federal job. Should I take this federal job at ohio?
Careers are 'team' decisions.
I wouldn't split the family if I could avoid it and we've actually had to do it for a few months during our careers.

Why do you want to join the federal gov't? In any case, it doesn't sound like the family is aligned.
If you're target is more $$$, consider joining a 'For Profit' company.
These clearly pay more, have opportunity for growth. Not sure exactly where you are but the chemical industry (I'm biased) is awesome.
Spacex, Tesla, or the oil industry represent even more potential opportunities.

DM me if you want to discuss career planning, development paths, and long term targets.
BS/PhD==>MBA is quite a lot of school. Where is your return? It's probably not with the Federal Govt.

good luck,
galving
LotsaGray
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by LotsaGray »

leeks wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 8:06 pm I would not consider taking a job in another state unless wife and daughter would go too.
I read this as wife would come but daughter is living with mom who is not current wife. Thus daughter stays.
syngameon
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by syngameon »

As a GS12 step 1, your salary won't be 2x 68000.
SmallSaver
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by SmallSaver »

I certainly wouldn't make this move. And in general a PhD in materials science should expect to make several multiples of federal pay in the private sector, especially in Texas. Something doesn't quite make sense (no offense meant, just feels like there is more to the story, like why you are working as a teacher).
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leeks
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by leeks »

LotsaGray wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:47 pm
leeks wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 8:06 pm I would not consider taking a job in another state unless wife and daughter would go too.
I read this as wife would come but daughter is living with mom who is not current wife. Thus daughter stays.
If that is the case, the answer is still the same. A parent should not move away from a child.
Jeepergeo
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Jeepergeo »

There are Federal jobs in Texas. I'd suggest waiting until one comes up if you are set on going Federal.

I absolutely would not leave a young child and wife behind. Those were both lifetime commitments.

The offer seems very low. We pay our entry level Civil Engineers fresh out of college with a Bachelor degree about that, and they quickly climb as they get experience and their professional registration.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Golf maniac »

Some people like the security and benefits from a federal job. That is okay, however, I would not leave my family for the job. Keep looking until you find something you and your spouse agree on.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Cocoa Beach Bum »

easym wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:00 pm...
I have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineer and PhD in material science, currently pursuing MBA. ...
Any student loan debt? Strange there's been no response yet from OP after initial post at BH. Just trolling?
“How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
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leeks
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job

Post by leeks »

warner25 wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 11:48 am I have a lot of days in which clearing the bar for a PhD feels like an impossible task because I'm not smart enough, my research topic isn't novel enough, etc.
You are smart enough warner25. I lived in grad student housing for nearly 7 years where almost all my neighbors were elite PhD students. They all had many days where they had doubts like that. They often took years to accept that, despite whatever idealistic vision they had when they entered the program, all that matters is doing something good enough for your advisor/committee so you can get out and move on with your life.
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warner25
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job

Post by warner25 »

leeks wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:25 pm You are smart enough warner25... all that matters is doing something good enough for your advisor/committee...
:happy I appreciate the encouragement. The psychology of being a PhD candidate, after getting into the uncharted territory beyond taking classes and exams, is a fascinating topic in itself. Your last point was my psychological touchstone earlier today after skimming the latest accepted papers at the top-tier conferences and immediately feeling like my topic and I (not being part of a big research group) will never measure up. I had to remind myself again that my committee already approved my topic and that most other people aren't getting anything accepted into these top-tier venues either. Bringing it back around to the OP, if he did earn a PhD by doing this kind of thing, it seems like he should have a lot more potential than being an adjunct instructor or GS-9.
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Re: Should I say no to my first federal job?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

the_wiki wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:04 am Do you want to stay married?

You likely won’t if you move to another state.
You'd better listen to this sound advice.
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