Career advice - when to stand on principle?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Zazoo, Feb 14, 2013.

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  1. Zazoo

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 27, 2011
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    I'm hoping the great people here can offer me some insight, as I've never been put in this position before.

    A little background, I graduated from an EE program last May with a minor in Computer Science. I graduated sum cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. I applied to several companies both local and out-of-state. A few were "I'm pretty sure I can get a job here" companies and a few "I'd love to work here" companies.
    I got offers from most of the places I applied to, but end up accepting a position with a local custom automation company that was on my "B" list. Part of this decision was made based on my desire to stay local if possible. Also the work seemed pretty interesting and the people are nice.
    The wage negotiation was a little awkward as the company low-balled me, but I also came in with zero automation experience fresh out of school - so I was willing to budge on my expected starting salary. Anyway, around the time I was hired 2 other people were hired for the same position (three openings.) They came in with prior automation experience so I fully expected they were brought on for more than me – understandable, experience = better pay.

    It’s now 7 months since I started and for the last 5 of these months I have been carrying a work load and level of responsibility that well exceeds that of the “seasoned” co-workers I was hired with. I thrive on challenge and this company has been more than willing to throw challenging projects my way. I’ve had several of the programmers who have worked at the company many years (including my boss) tell me that my self direction and ability to learn quickly and apply this new knowledge is impressive. One programmer who has been with the company 15 years told me that the last project I worked on was one that only 4 other programmers in the company would have had the skills to handle – and neither of these people are the two people I was hired with.

    I’m friends with the two guys I was hired with, and the subject of pay/wages has come up. I know for a fact that one of them makes more than me (and not an insignificant amount more.) I don’t know how much the other makes, but he has mentioned that he took a little bit of a pay cut coming here from his last job, where he made 72K/year (a lot more than I make now.)

    I spoke to my boss and he claims that he sets hiring wages based on experience and then adjusts based on performance/value. He said the $1.70/hr raise they gave me at the 4 month mark reflects the fact that they initially undervalued me due to my lack of experience.
    Part of the problem I have trying to counter this argument is that I can’t just come out and tell him I know that the other two guys I was hired with still make significantly more than me - even though I feel like, at this point, I am a most capable programmer of the three of us. Another issue is that I have no real feel for what a typical salary is for the work I do. I’m an automation programmer, not an engineer like I trained for. However, I work for a company that builds very complicated custom one-off machines that involve a ton of systems integration and regular design/redesign on the job floor to meet demanding build schedules. For example, the machine I’m working on now has several robots (both SCARA and 6-axis as well as a custom built XYZ that I have programmed from scratch,) intelligent actuators, 4 vision systems (3 of which I have redesigned,) several feeder systems, data collection, electrical tests and laser marking. Several of the devices used on this project are “first-time use” devices for us and I’ve had to build the PLC add-ons for these devices from scratch. The programming must tolerate and work at micron level tolerances and the machine is automated to switch between several product types. 85% of the software for this project has been my responsibility alone. I typically work unsupervised. To me the technical knowledge and responsibility required to perform this job is easily worth +65K/year base, yet I make less than about 45K/year base (and benefits aren’t that great.)
    I like the job and the people, but I feel like unless I give the employer an ultimatum, I’m going to continue to get treated like a chump. It’s souring me on the company and my boss.
    Am I crazy to expect my boss to give me a comparable salary to the other two? How do I let him know I know that I'm not making what others make without ratting out everyone else?
     
  2. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    You are working ,you are working with robotic's......in your line of work that

    is every day stuff. You get along with your workers. Don't Let the $ 1.70 per

    hour mess up a good thing. You are not talking about a lot of money.
     
  3. justtrying

    Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
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    in a case like this company policy is company policy so just take it easy. If you want $72 grand, you will have to look for a job with another company once you have experience. I do not think an ultimatum will work here as they could easily find another new grad if you were to come out and say give me a huge raise or I am leaving, policies are usually set and are beyond discussion.
     
  4. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Go apply at other places and see what your offered. Then let them know heres what this company wants to pay me, I'd like to stay here but I need X amount to stay. If your worth it they'll pay it. If not, they won't.
     
  5. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I have never gotten a significant raise without changing employers.
    The prime example is much like yours. When I was hired, I didn't know what an op-amp was. A year later, I only worked the machines that the other techs had given up on and sent to me. I was assigned as an engineering aide, testing and correcting the work of the BSEEs. They gave me 10 cents an hour for my annual raise.

    I quit and doubled my pay at the next job, then doubled it again at the third job.
    Get testy right after you know where you're going to work next.
     
    KJ6EAD and maxpower097 like this.
  6. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    If you are doing smarter/better/more work than the other two guys then you SHOULD be getting paid more. Work=pay.

    If your employers are ripping you off, ie giving you more work (or harder work) and less pay than the others, it is ONLY because you are allowing that ripoff to continue. Fix it now, or accept a victims role for the rest of your career there, and possibly the rest of your life.
     
  7. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I gotta say, I've known people for whom that was a viable option. One guy I met as a teenager only got a BSME because his daddy was demanding he attend the school daddy paid for. The kid took the first job offered after graduation in 1980, and he's STILL THERE!

    I also know another one that is older than I. He graduated from some General Motors program somewhere in the late 1950's and stayed there until he retired. In his daily life, he refuses my suggestions and strictly avoids repeating any behavior that was successful. He spent his retirement egg putting other people in business, then took the IRS fall for the corporation not paying payroll taxes. He refuses to negotiate with the IRS and, last I saw him (about a year ago), he was driving a rusty car and neglecting his dental care.

    Some people really choose to be victims. You can too. I won't argue with you about it. I only ask that you not spend my time repeating the story about how you chose not to change when it was good for you. I already have three people that sing that song for me, regularly. One got caught on the housing bubble, one was still taking second mortgages and adding on rooms as his last child was moving out, and one has been going to leave his wife, and telling me about it regularly, for SEVEN YEARS!

    Geez! This seems to have turned into a rant.
    Thank you for your patience.
     
  8. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    No doubt where your from. :) I think I can actually retype your post and not lie at all. I know every person your talking about! But where we live is an enigma. Forbes ranked it the Hardest city in the country to make a living in. Over Manhattan, San Fran, Beverly Hills, etc.... We also killed every other city in the country in suicides! Auto Fraud, Tax Fraud, and medicare fraud. As their finding out this huge wave of ghetto tax fraud originated straight out of HCC 7 years ago. Since then that ring of tax frauds has taught and spread the scam thru the prison system nationwide. But since it originated here we still have a much higher percentage of tax fraudsters. Their busting them regularly now though. Its sickening knowing these idiots got usually $400,000- $2.2m and are getting sentences of 2 years- 5 years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
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  9. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Personally, I'm very skeptical that someone who has been in the field for a mere 7 months is working at a higher level than journeymen engineers or programmers. Unless you're some kind of prodogy or all the other people are incompetent. My gut feel is you're a little impatient about pay. You stated you thrive on challenge and you accepted lower pay because the job allows you to stay local. Those two factors were obviously what your priorities are, so remembering you've been able to have that is important. Keep learning and accepting more responsibility, the money will come in time.

    A couple things, if you want to get credit for engineering, then ask to be transfered to engineering. If that's not an option, ask for a position to be created that is an engineering/programmer. And make sure you can quantify you work, and have data to back it up. Don't say "85% of my work is blah blah" but be able to prove it.

    Look at what others with your experience level are making. No matter how great of an engineer you think you are, the realities of the market will by and large determine your compensation. If you aren't keeping up, then go to the market and get more pay. Of course, you might need to compromise on some of your other priorities. If all else fails, then start your own business.
     
  10. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    I dunno brownout I've found many of the tech fields the wild west. For instance the guy who outsourced everything to Romania and watched cat video's for $100k a year for like 5 years. I worked in a Federal job for the gov. and the head IT person for the project had no real experience or training in the field. It was a joke, I got promoted 3 times in 5 months. You have 2 kinds of people. The guys who goto school and learn their specialized fields and go home and live their lives. They do this through school and at work. Then you have the 2nd type who lives it and has spent many o nights without sleep working on projects. Getting a project for work and bringing it home to work on not for money but to get it done and understand it. I can easily see the 2nd person right out of school being way more qualified then someone who's been in the rut for 5 10 years. Not saying everyones an idiot or anything like that, just that in the pool of embedded tech and tech workers in general the skill sets seem to vary drastically from people who are masters with no education, to people who have great degree's that have trouble emailing. Its just a really weird field because many times HR or mng. doesn't understand the skillsets either. He may well be over reaching, then again he may not and may be able to switch jobs and double his salary. Just line something up before you leave.
     
  11. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    For me, it was 4 years of full time, 40 hour weeks, before the light bulb finally went on. After that, I was in a league of my own. I could walk in anywhere that did electronics and take over any position. So, yeah, 7 months is hard to believe unless he hobbied this stuff for years, then graduated a full blown BSEE degree with a 4.0 GPA. Oh wait...he did.
     
  12. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Yeah, I've seen lots of 4.0's who thought their excrement didn't stink. Believe me, it does.
     
  13. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I agree. A BSEE without experience is a disappointment to all around him. That's why I mentioned something about hobbying this stuff for years before college. I did that with chemistry. Slept through the first semester (Well, actually, I was drunk.) and got an "A". That's why I believe a long term nerd that finally gets some formal education can be amazing, seemingly right out of the gate.
     
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  14. Zazoo

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 27, 2011
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    Just to clarify, I never claimed to be more experienced than the other two guys. But I am outperforming them right now, this is not in dispute, I've been told this by other people at the company who are in a position to make this assessment. Perhaps the other two guys just don't care, and are only doing what's necessary to keep the job, or maybe they really didn't learn much at their previous job(s). Whatever the reason I don't care, what matters to me (and what should matter to my employer IMHO) is what I accomplish in a day/week/month vs. what the other two accomplish.

    Also, I'll add that I'm not fresh out of high school with zero life/work experience. I spent several years in the service doing electronics work before returning to school. I've also been programming in one form or another (both for pay and for fun) since I was 15 (20 years ago.)
    The automation part is new to me, but the programming and electrical side of it is easy.
     
  15. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Dude, I spent about 12 years working in electronics, military and industry before I went back and got my degree, and I had to start where you are. If after all the comments that have been made, you still think you're being treated unfairly, the by all means walk up on your boss and demand a raise. Let us know how that works out for you.
     
  16. Zazoo

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 27, 2011
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    *shrug* don't know who sh!t in your cornflakes Brownout, but I wish you luck with that.

    Thanks to all for the advice.
     
  17. justtrying

    Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
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    Your desires and frustration are understandable, but you need to look at it from company's perspective. They cannot pay someone with no experience the same money as to the people who have been there 10 years, it will create problems. Even those people are not supposed to know what their co-workers are making, somehow everyone always does... The only thing possible here is some kind of performance bonus or creation of a unique position which only you can fill, otherwise you will be barking up the wrong tree.
     
  18. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Like I said see whats out there, express your interest. Then come back to your company with an offer. If they don't wanna pay it, goto the new company. Sounds like your making entry level pay so getting a better paying job shouldn't be hard, just keep what you got till you line something up. And hey whats the worst that can happen. You stay at your job and get 70k a year, or move jobs and make 70k a year. Or if you can't find anything tuck your tail between your leggs dig deep and try again in a year.
     
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  19. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Thing is, it is always easier to get a job if you have a job. I would give it a year and a little over to bulk the resume out, then quietly start looking. No threats, no warnings, just start looking. If you find a better job and the old company offers a fantastic wage increase when they find out, turn it down, as they are fighting a holding action until they can find your replacement.

    Companies have no loyalty, people do. But in most (vast majority) of cases a boss has no real control over things like your salary or income, other than the yearly review. Many a company has been destroyed or severely damaged by accountants, who rarely get who does what how well.

    So use them as they are using you. Get the experience, and a base of operations until you can find something better. While it is unlikely, in the time you look it is possible they will come around and give you a better deal. It has to come from them though.

    My 2¢.
     
  20. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    was this desired raise an expectation prior to starting this job? If so, proceed. I also believe in demonstrating my value in skills before going in for the dollars, but I usually wait a year. If it wasn't in your plans, then it's office politics and you'll probably find out quickly how that works. I'd concentrate on learning the technology, adding it to your skills toolbox, as part of your longer term growth planning, which by the way, has associated income benchmarks.
     
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