Friday, August 03, 2007

There is no Santa Claus, Timmy

I feel bad, but not in a bad way. I had to burst some one's bubble yesterday in the soul crushing sort of way that wakes someone up and forces them to change their life plans.

One of the engineering interns at my company mentioned to me that his boss asked him if he was interested in staying on, becoming a regular employee. He didn't specifically ask me how much money he should expect, but the conversation moved in that directly quickly.

It turns out, by listening to braggarts and what not in informal society settings, he was under the impression that an Engineer makes 80 to 90K a year right out of school. Man, the next words out of my mouth really changed his ideas and plans after school. I just made it clear he could expect maybe 40 to 50K a year upon getting his degree.

Seeking confirmation of this soul crushing realization, he asked one of the other Engineers. That Engineer didn't answer right away, but asked "What do you think an Engineer should expect?" After waiting through the awkward pause, I piped up for him, "80 to 90K". To which he laughed through a dry spit take. A couple of the nearby Engineers then quoted their starting salaries, in the 35 to 45K range.

Without getting in to personal details, I'll just say that the intern was a little concerned about his post graduation prospects at that point.

To give him some perspective, I quoted off some general wage levels, such as Senior Managers are in the 80 to 90K and Directors may push into the six digits. Even in Silicon Valley, people aren't making astronomical wages. Besides that, the cost of living is so high here that it negates much of the wage advantage we have in this area.

He then told me what a couple told him at some party. He said they had just graduated with degrees in EE and got picked up at some local company for 90K a year. To which I simply replied, "They lied. People lie about what they make and what they do all the time, especially at society gatherings like parties where they want to make themselves seem more important. It just happens."

Well, I'm sure he will figure out how to adjust based on more realistic expectations, but it just sucked that I had to be the one to tell him there is no Santa Claus.

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