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Dad’s Health and Job Update

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I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

Bad?

Good choice. Let’s just get it out of the way.

The trip my sister and I just took to be with my Dad for some scary appointments was met with mixed results. The specialist wasn’t convinced of the preliminary diagnosis my Dad had been given by another doctor. He’s scheduled appointments for additional tests and has ordered additional scans be done. My overwhelming feeling about this is disappointment. Although it does offer a sliver of hope, I feel in my gut and my heart that I know where this is headed and its not good. I wish we could have received a conclusive diagnosis and began to make some plans for the future. Without an official diagnosis, however, we’re stuck in a bit of a holding pattern. My sister and I have arranged for someone to accompany my father for his remaining tests and we plan to make a return trip when the diagnosis is officially being handed down. Not sure yet the exact time-frame for when this trip will take place, but certainly sometime this summer. On the bright side, my Dad did indeed give us money to reimburse the costs of the flight. I still incurred a few additional costs (e.g., I had to park at the airport instead of being dropped off due to the flight schedule, so I paid for airport parking and a couple of fast-food type meals while I was out of town). Nothing too major in the grand scheme of things. I’m certainly thankful that the largest expense (the $425 flight) was covered by my father. I would also be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and kind words in response to this family crisis we’re dealing with. Please keep those prayers and thoughts of strength and courage coming our way. This has been an incredibly stressful time, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Glad that’s out of the way.

Now, onto something good.

While I was out of town I received a call from the dean of the department where I just had an interview last week. It was so bizarre! In the voicemail message the dean literally said, “I’d like to meet and see if this will work so we can offer you the position.” So, I take this to mean that we’ll be discussing salary and job duties a bit more, but I’m officially being offered the position as long as we can come to terms. That’s very exciting news for me – my first full time job offer since graduating! I’m still very nervous about the salary negotiations given that the job was posted as DOE (salary depends on experience). I need to make enough money to make it worth my while emotionally and financially to move my daughters into full-time preschool (a huge transition psychologically and practically). I know this is such a random and broad question without additional background information – but what is the lowest amount you would accept if you were in my position? (or maybe a better question is – what salary would you try to negotiate for?) To give some more financial perspective, I think full-time preschool at our new childcare facility will run us about $1300ish/month. Also remember this isn’t just any random job – it’s advertised as only available for people with Ph.Ds. (so taking into consideration the extensive training – and accompanying student loan debt). Also, I’ve never given my precise salary but I’ll give you a range that I make between $30,000-$40,000 working part-time from home teaching my two online classes per semester (3 semesters in a year: fall, spring, and summer). That’s a LOT of money for working part-time. I tell you this to explain that I’m not going to accept an offer of $40,000 for a full-time job when I make nearly that much working from home part-time. Also, this job is not a tenure-track position, which means that if I accept it I’m basically taking myself out of the running for ever moving into that type of job position (limiting my future job options). I know every individual is different, every situation is different, and ultimately I just need to meet with the dean and discuss these concerns to see if I can get a salary offer that I feel comfortable with and that I think adequately compensates me for the work I’ll be doing. But I’d still love to hear your opinions on the matter and if there is a “magic number” you’d try to negotiate for given some of the parameters I’ve outlined above. Oh, by the way, my meeting with the dean is tomorrow (Friday)! So, yeah. Get me those suggestions asap! ; )

One final thing – I still haven’t heard back from the dean of the other department (remember I talked to the department head last Friday and was told the dean would likely contact me the beginning of this week. It’s now Thursday and….crickets over here). Should I reach out to the dean and/or department head and say that I’ve received a job offer from another department? This could help me in negotiations, right? And, honestly, I don’t know enough about the job parameters and responsibilities to know which job I’d prefer (since I’ve now talked with two department heads about two slightly different positions: one as lecturer/online program coordinator; the other as lecturer and academic adviser – though both jobs seem to have some fluidity of the responsibilities and could shift across time).

Lots of things to consider. Thanks for supporting me every step of the way with these two potentially HUGE life changes (e.g., Dad health issues and full-time employment opportunity).

Hugs to all you guys/gals!


36 Comments

  • Reply Jackie |

    Congrats on the job offer! I don’t have any input for salary on that since that it is way out of my area of expertise. In Maine I would be ecstatic to make $30-40K at any job. It’s very hard to make that kind of money up here. Even with the schooling we don’t have tons of jobs like that. Doctors, nurses and lawyers and in the ship yard make the most here. We don’t have as many openings in Academia although I’m sure there are some. When I moved back here as a restaurant manager I ended up making $3 less an hour for the exact same job with the same restaurant chain. It’s just a regional thing. I agree not to take $30-40K for a full time position when you make that with part time.

    I’ll keep praying for your Dad and that things will work out there.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s tough! I’ve never been to Maine so I don’t know much about their cost of living, but even if its low its definitely painful to take that kind of pay cut! And, thanks for keeping my Dad in your prayers!

  • Reply Wren |

    Is there any way you can research general salary information for the school, to get an idea of what is normally paid? That would be a start. While I can’t really suggest numbers, I would figure out what your absolute lowest figure is, and then what the best number is that you believe you can get. Then, after talking with the dean for a bit, you may be able to judge where to start with negotiations. Who knows, maybe you will get lucky enough that the initial number will fall somewhere within your preferred range, and you can then decide whether or not you want to push for a bit more, or negotiate for other, non-financial benefits that might be available. Conference attendance, education seminars, etc. Plus you have to consider additional expenses such as full-time daycare, commuting expenses, warddrobe (depending on how teachers are supposed to dress at the school), lunch, etc. If it were me, I guess I might add anywhere from 50-75% on top of what you make now, considering you’re going from part-time to full time (I have no idea what phd-educated professors earn in your area, so that may either be much too low, or too high; if so, drop it down 25% and see where it falls). But use that as a guide to give you both your base number and your pie-in-the-sky number.

    If you take this job, would you then have to give up your part-time teaching, or could that be maintained as well, depending on your class schedule and whatnot? I suppose there could be some sort of conflict of interest, but I don’t know.

    No matter what, do not undersell yourself and your skills. Whatever numbers you come up with, make them realistic, but also reflective of your worth, and the value you will bring to the school and the department. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If they lowball you too much, and you can’t bring them up, don’t be afraid to walk away. Never let them undervalue you, just because you want a full-time position. Especially one that isn’t tenure-track.

    Good luck.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for the tips! I think I’d probably be able to continue doing my online teaching, though I’d definitely have to see how it all works out time-wise. I’d probably keep them at least for the first semester to see how I balance them (and buffer my income!), but it’s always a possibility that I’d have to eventually drop the online thing. In terms of conflict of interest, I know they don’t like for employees to also work for other universities/community colleges, but there’s nothing specifically in the contract about it. I’d probably just keep it quiet.

  • Reply Jen |

    So sorry about your dad. I will keep you all in my prayers.

    On the job front, read “Lean In.” I don’t know if you have read it yet or not (it is a very quick read with loads of good tips), but it is great for making decisions like this. If you end up with two offers, which one has the most growth potential (she says it in the context of business growth, but I think it can apply in this way as well)? Whether it is a step up or step down is irrelevant if the potential for your growth is better. Is there any way that you can look up the school’s current wages on a state website? Did you check out glassdoor.com for reasonable estimates? Also, check out http://www.bls.gov/oes/ for statistical information about salaries in your area.

    • Reply Ashley |

      It’s hard because this is a new-ish type of job position (many universities are just now developing online programs). I’ve tried to find salary information for the places where I KNOW an online program coordinator exists, but salary info isn’t posted.

      • Reply Juhli |

        Do you know anyone who has a similar job or supervises that job at another university? I’d call them and ask what the salary range is typically for that type of position.

  • Reply Louise |

    I know your dilemma very well! I make $45 an hour working eight hours a week and all my attempts to increase my hours at this well paid and flexible (work from home) job have failed. It’s only barely enough money to scrape by. However with my son being younger than school-age, I couldn’t take on a job that requires more hours and attendance during the daytime without severely mixing up his schedule and paying a lot more for childcare – and the part-time and full-time jobs generally have a much lower hourly rate! Personally I am committed to maintaining my quality of life whilst just scraping by financially, until I can find a part-time job that pays me no less than $35 an hour or work out how to increase my hours at this $45 an hour job. I know I am efficient and knowledgable and worth the money, and I know that my and my sons quality of life would decrease dramatically if my hours of work increase, so the money need to be really really worth that sacrifice.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Definitely understand this! That’s why I was saying the salary would have to be worth it psychologically AND financially because the transition to moving kids into full-time preschool is HUGE!

  • Reply Anon |

    I would say given what you’d posted a few things, I’d probably hope that they’ll offer at least 60 and be pretty happy with 75. I think the benefits could play a big role here too. If I remember correctly you pay for health insurance? Many universities have very good health insurance plans and retirement contributions. Both of those would merit consideration in the overall package. I work at a non-profit and we get subsidized transportation (parking or public transport), so that could also help offset some of the costs. Anyway, as you are discussing salary keep the entire compensation package in mind.

    I would also urge you not to throw out a number first if at all possible. See if you can get them to give you one first, but be ready to give the numbers you want (in a range) if absolutely necessary. If you do that though, be very cautious with the bottom of your range and make sure it’s something you would really accept if it’s offered. So try and go in with some concrete numbers.

    Good luck!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you, this is excellent advice! My hubs said the same thing about trying to make them say the # first. I think there are some statistics that show it tends to work out more in your favor if you can keep quiet and have them propose the first number.

      • Reply Walnut |

        Definitely consider the benefits package. Moving from self-employed health insurance to university insurance could easily swing 10k. The university will also likely offer life and disability insurance policies as either a paid benefit or an opportunity to buy in at a lower cost – these could be worth 2-5k per year based on the policy.

        I have very little basis in my salary, but I would think you would end up being offered in the 60-80k range. You have extensive experience with online curriculum and online programs can be very lucrative to universities. There is tremendous value to the university in your position.

  • Reply JayP |

    Great! I would do some research. Go to GlassDoor etc and find out what similar positions pay. This might be difficult if you are in a specialty area. But, I would say this. Don’t be afraid to go in high. $40K is not much for someone with a PHD. At this point in the negotiation, they want you for the job. They are not going to take it away because you want too much(unless you are miles apart). Throw out a number you would be comfortable with are see what happens. Play up the fact that you do have experience teaching. Also, ask other important questions – is it tenure track, pension?, 401K match, healthcare, etc. If you give them a number, be prepared to defend it – your experience level, comp positions, etc. I’m sure you’ll work out a good number – Don’t sell yourself short! Remember they want you as much as you want the position. Good luck!

  • Reply Katie |

    I’ll piggyback here and say don’t forget to look at the benefits package and figure that into the mix. My husband and I basically make the same salary, but my benefits are MUCH better than his – it makes a huge difference over the course of a career. If we were on his health insurance, it would cost us $950/month for our family premium. On mine, it’s about $300/month. Plus I get a better 401K match and various other benefits.

    • Reply Jen from Boston |

      Ditto! I was wondering if you’d save on health insurance, etc. with a the full-time job.

      Also, I’m hoping for the best with your dad.

  • Reply Jerome |

    In addition to all the excellent advice already given here one more thought: Unless you have skills which are very valuable and rare, I would always advice against the use of another job offer in your negotiations. I was a manager for a long time and as a rule I never hired anybody who told me that they had another job-offer. The meeting was basically over once they mentioned it. The main reason being that I would immediately doubt their commitment to the job I was offering. I know of several colleagues who did exactly the same.
    Just me thought, wish you all the best with your dad and new job.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a really great point! Related question then…. would you reach out to the other department (where I haven’t received an offer, but spoke on the phone with the department head and was told the dean would follow-up)? Or would you just leave it alone? I think the salary offer will probably be higher with this current job (the one with an actual offer), but didn’t know if I should follow up with the other department to at least see if they’ll throw out an offer since I’m considering an offer from a different department. Not sure if I’m explaining it properly but kind of just giving them a heads up like, “Hey, I have an offer from this other place. I really love you guys and would love to work there, but haven’t heard anything back yet. Just wondering if you were going to move forward with the hiring process soon?”

  • Reply Joe |

    Sorry to hear about your Dad, but still hopeful for the best.

    Hard to give solid advice on salary without knowing the exact field. In the life sciences, 40k is a postdoc salary. So roughly equivalent to your experience level, but postdocs are training positions whereas yours is full time. So I’d be looking at 55-65k to start. But the best folks to reach out to would be those in your field who have recently found work…

    Don’t underestimate the benefits of having a full time position, including the literal benefits like health insurance, but also the psychological boost of not being in a temporary position. You can really build on it and perhaps even pursue a tenure track position if everything aligns right.
    The kids will be fine, they will be in school full time soon so not terrible to make the adjustment now.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’m qualified to work in 2 related departments (my training and job history is a bit interdisciplinary). As a result, the salary ranges are pretty large. I’ve seen tenure track assistant professors hired at as low as $52k. But they also might start as high as $65k. So, really a pretty large range. Of course, this is non-tenure track so my guess is that the starting salary would be a little lower

  • Reply HL |

    Is there a chance that one benefit would be reduced cost or free college education for your girls? That would be an incredible benefit long-term.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I doubt it, but I’ll be sure to ask. Realistically, though, I don’t think I’d stay in this position until they are college-aged. My long-term goal has always been to get back to Texas.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Congratulations on the job offer, hope you get the salary you are looking for. I know this will be unpopular but your Dad will have lots of expenses if the outcome is what you think it is. From someone who has gone through treatment twice for breast cancer, good insurance, and little hospital costs, it is still expensive with meds, doctor visits and such. Please don’t be offended. Cheryl

    • Reply Ashley |

      Not offended at all! Unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality. Fortunately, my Dad has a decent amount in retirement. He’s only 59 so he can’t take it out penalty-free at this point, but if/when we get an official diagnosis he’ll be allowed to start making withdrawals from it.

  • Reply Juhli |

    I wanted to mention that my Ph.D. husband took a research, non-tenure track position as his first full time job as it was all that was available. Within a few years he moved into a tenure track position and gained tenure. Of course then he left academia to work for the government. Don’t assume this closes all doors for the future.

    Also, I wouldn’t call the other department unless you are confident that you would take that position over this one if the salaries were the same. For one thing, they may figure out who else is offering you a position and talk to them. Also, you want the job that is the best fit and offers transferable skills for the future academic marketplace.

  • Reply Lisa |

    I was googling to see if I could find any info that would be helpful and I found a site that lists salaries for public employees in Arizona, which includes public universities. Maybe this could help if you could find a similar position or person in a similar position? You can switch out the school to other public schools too.

    http://archive.azcentral.com/salary/employees.php/?oid=ASU

  • Reply MW |

    Check out AskAManager.org for tips on negotiating (and everything else job-related; it’s a fantastic blog).

    I would caution against setting a figure based on what your expenses are or what you need. Just like you wouldn’t want your company to pay you less because their expenses have increased, they won’t want to pay you more because youryour expenses have increased…

  • Reply Brooke |

    Re: the benefits — Could your entire family, including your husband be on the healthcare? If so, what would be the cost?

    Re: the other job –> I would definitely follow up, either via email or a phone call. It would be a wasted opportunity to just accept the current offer without at least trying to figure out where you are in the process for the other job. But I agree that it should only be if you really would like that job more than the current one you are offered.

    Re: continuing to teach online –> If you could swing it, it would be a great (temporary) way to accelerate some debt payments! Maybe you could continue to teach online until you had paid off a certain amount or a certain amount of loans…

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! Continuing to teach online would be a HUGE boost to our income. I plan to keep it up as long as feasible!

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    Oh – Another thing to consider wrt benefits: DENTAL INSURANCE!! 🙂

  • Reply Sarah |

    They also might have a flex plan where you can pay the first $5k of dependent care with pre-tax dollars. So much to consider! Get the offer and find out about benefits and come back to us.

So, what do you think ?