Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

What matters most

Job Seeker: Andy, I am evaluating two job offers. One is my former employer (a good consulting firm in my home country), which feels safe but boring. The other is a high-growth entrepreneurial venture capital fund here in the U.S. It seems like my choice should be obvious, but I am struggling with it.

I just don’t feel myself having much energy or excitement around the venture capital opportunity – like my heart is not really in it. Perhaps this is silly, but I know that there are lots of good reasons why this vc job will probably provide a useful set of functional, career growth experiences for me. Perhaps I am just fundamentally risk averse, and that is clouding my judgment.

I guess I just imagined myself landing my “dream job” at the end of these two years in b-school and feeling so excited about going to work each day… but perhaps this was a very unrealistic expectation.

Anyway, I am rambling. If you have any thoughts on how I might be able to clear things up in my own mind, I’d certainly be interested to hear them.

Andy: Here are some thoughts and questions to help you continue to process this information and help you decide:
1. Don’t discount your internal feelings as ‘silly’. Listen to your internal compass and trust it.

2. Hoping for a ‘dream’ job isn’t unreasonable. The difficult reality is that sometimes that job is not available given the market conditions or your competitive position in the marketplace. The good news is that the market is always changing (and at this point, most envision it getting better in a couple years) which means that opportunities will be coming down the road. Given your experience and capabilities, you will have good access to good opportunities.

3. Each person has a unique set of criteria to evaluate job opportunities. Given our prior conversations and your current thoughts, here are a few questions for you to ponder:
a) How much do you respect and trust your manager and the management team? How much does that matter to you? If they do things that you disagree with, can you accept it and move on or will it eventually drive you crazy and force you to seek another place to work?
b) How much coaching, mentoring and training do you want and need? How well do you operate in an environment where you are expected to sink-or-swim on your own?
c) Your vision is to run a medium to large company someday. The vc firm seems to focus on smaller companies. This ‘upward’ transition (from small to big) is more difficult and less common than the reverse. How comfortable are you in setting your career foundation on a job that is not in great alignment with your vision? It would appear that the consulting job is actually in better alignment with your vision.

4. If you take the vc job now, you cut off other options to explore today and for the next several months (since the consulting firm is willing to give you more time). If you do not take it, you have the consulting job as your back up and time to explore other options. How does it feel when envisioning these two scenarios?

Every person’s situation and criteria is different. I recommend that you seek out an objective advisor or coach who can ask you questions that get to the heart of the matter – to the things that matter most to you.

Category: Job/Internship Search