Work Loyalty

I’ve got this problem with loyalty.  Well, it’s not a problem per se.  It’s a problem for me, but it’s great for my employer.  This might be a product of my tenancy to let inertia guide me, but when it comes to career progression, I tend to avoid rocking the boat as much as possible.

I’ve been at my current full-time job for 3.5 years.  I feel lucky that I got the job initially, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful people who are committed to making the School of Engineering what it is.  There are obviously little petty stuff here and there, but it’s par for the course when you have to work on teams.  I, without reservation, like working with all the people I interact with on a regular basis.

I started here as a lowly research assistant on a 9-month contract.  I got lucky when my position’s predecessor decided to retire and positioned myself to be the likely next person in line.  I was hired to fill the outgoing assistant’s job, and I’ve been steadily building myself since by accepting new challenges and seeking out ways to improve my profile (getting involved in program reviews, offering my analysis to the Chairs, accepting bigger projects, teaching, etc.).  But I have always been in the same position in the same office.  My boss has encouraged me to keep an eye on career advancement within the college, as my talents are well beyond what my original role was intended for.  I appreciate that my boss, whom has a vested interest in me staying in my current role, has always encouraged me to be open to advancement.

When I was given the opportunity to teach, I felt conflicted bringing it to my boss.  I was worried that it would signal a disinterest in my job, that I was keeping one foot out the door in case I wanted to bolt.  I pitched the job to her as an opportunity to broaden my experience at the College.  She was supportive, and I had nothing to worry about.

A few weeks back, a new job was posted within the College.  It’s a few pay-grades above where I am, and will expose me to some pretty high-up work across the entire College.  One part of me wanted to go for the job – it’s about a 10% raise minimum, it’s an entirely new role for me on a new campus, I like the people I’ll be working with and for, it’s a soft-reboot for my job, and it puts me in touch with the highest levels of administration at the College.  That alone should have had me applying automatically.

But what held me back was the loyalty I felt to my department.  My boss and I have been working on formally redefining my job so that I would qualify for a higher pay-band (we are bound by the union rules, so she can’t arbitrarily change my salary; I am stuck on the prescribed annual raise amounts).  She has been giving me more autonomy and responsibilities over my projects and the work I am doing is both valued and appreciated by the Chairs and faculty I interact with.  Plus, I’m in the middle of some big program reviews, so leaving partway through would be an inconvenience for others.

I consulted with peers at the College, I talked it over with my fiancee, and with my supervisor at the bar for different views.  I know, deep down, that loyalty to a company doesn’t necessarily make sense.  The company isn’t necessarily loyal to me (though I feel that my supervisors and boss look out for me, so there is loyalty there on an interpersonal level).  But clinging to loyalty means I don’t grow and expand exponentially within my role.  Instead, it would be a slow, iterative progression up the ladder.

As a final move, I spoke to my boss about the opportunity.  After our regular monthly check-in, I told her that I was interested in the position.  She looked it over and flatly told me that while she’d hate to lose me, it would be a shame if I didn’t at least throw my hat in on something she couldn’t offer me (salary-wise).  In the end, she knows the game: people are expected to grow and fill opportunities that they stumble into.  I wouldn’t be quitting my job since it’s an internal position at the College, so there was no harm in applying and continuing to work as per normal.  She gave me her blessing, I revised my resume, and applied to the job last weekend.  I think my boss appreciated the heads-up, just in case.

An hour ago, I received a notice from HR that I’m being offered an interview in a week for the job.  As of writing, I have no idea how this will turn out, but I guess this means I know what I need to do this next week – it’s time to dust-off my interview skills.

Stay Awesome,


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