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Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 01:15 PM   #1
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Advice: which job to take?

I'm in my early twenties, trying to do some long-term career planning...would be interested to hear what you think of these options. At the end of the next year, I have to choose between two jobs...both are with my current employer and related to my current financial analyst position.

Job 1

Hours: 80/week (weekend work required)
Salary (savings potential): $70k ($40k)
Travel: 100%, possibly international

Strengths:
- exposure to a variety of businesses and processes
- regarded as the career "fast track"
- substantially reduced living expenses means more $$ savings

Weaknesses:
- living in a hotel room gets old
- long hours & high stress

Job 2

Hours: 45-55/week (weekend work rare)
Salary (savings potential): $60k ($20k)
Travel: none

Strengths:
- more normal work schedule
- potential to get an MBA on the weekends

Weaknesses:
- harder to keep moving up the corporate ladder
- higher expenses means less savings

Because Job 1 is 100% travel, I would be able to drastically reduce my living expenses which means I would get closer to ER much sooner (saving $40k/year after-tax vs. $20k). I'm young and don't have a family, so being away from home isn't a problem at this point. But is an extra $20k in savings worth the workload and stress? The actual work content in both jobs is finance-related, so I'm indifferent about that. Let me know what you think.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 01:32 PM   #2
 
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

for job 1, will you also be paid a per-diem (for meals)? This is typically $40-60 and is not considered income (not taxed). I had a traveling job where I was able to save an additional $800 per month with the per diem. When I got to each city where I was based for one week, I hit the grocery store and bought cereal and milk, sandwich fixings, and frozen dinners for a week and put them in the hotel room fridge. It was a great deal.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 01:39 PM   #3
 
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

I would pick the job you are the most interested in. You will do better at it and be more motivated. Job1 sounds interesting for a few years, with the travel etc.

Remember, you are not deciding for your whole life here. You may decide to something else in a few years.

Bottom line - Don't think about what is better for retirement (a Loooong way off) - Do what you want as far as a job!
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 01:41 PM   #4
 
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

If I were in your shoes I'd take job#1. Let's face it. There is much to be gained and really very little to lose. You get the money, and the career enhancement which you might not be able to get later when you need it. When you're older and find that you threw away an opportunity.

So, you might not like it. So it might be grueling work. So what? Are you gonna be doing this forever or something? NO WAY! In fact, after this square is filled you will move on to easier, more lucrative work. That's what moving up is all about, and some young person will be "stuck" with the job. 10-15 yrs from now you might HAVE to do it against your will just to keep your job . That's IF some youngster with more energy and "as kissing" motivation doesnt beat you out of it. And at 35-40 it will be a lot harder to eat that kind of "Sandwich" out of desperation.

This is something like what we had to do when I was in the military. Volunteering for remote assignments in Alaska or other duty considered hard time just so we could enhance our resume, get exposure to certain Systems, increase our visibility, or get first dibs on a good Headquarters job when we came back. We just didnt make any extra money at it
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 02:09 PM   #5
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

On the per-diem allowance, I don't know what the exact amount is, but my understanding is that ALL your expenses while travelling are paid by the company...so that would include any food purchased as well as things like dry cleaning. Since you are always travelling, you spend very little of your own money on food and other things so the savings is substantial.

I should also mention that the company gives you one or two weekends off per month and flys you home (however, that amount is considered taxable income by the IRS). Plus, I would probably just ship my belongings back home (no point in renting an apartment if I'm only going to be there 4 days a month) so I would be rent free, another large savings. This was factored into the numbers I posted above.

As for what I'm interested in...I'm interested in the content of both jobs, it's hard to say that I'd really prefer one over the other (apart from the hours and stress).

But I should also mention that if I did Job 2, and got my MBA, I would probably leave the company (at that point I would have about 5 years of experience) and go to greener pastures somewhere else. I'm not yet sure if I'm willing to be a "lifer" at the place I'm at right now.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 03:53 PM   #6
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Take #1 - while you can put in the hours and build up a nest egg. You have a great opportunity to travel and see the world. If you play your investments right, you could have a fully funded retirement by 45. 8)
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 05:02 PM   #7
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

While the majority of responses seem to advocate option #1, I'd like to address what Soupcxan will be giving up if s/he selects option #1 over option #2.

First, Soupcxan is in his/her early 20s. I would assume that most of the responders to the posting are NOT in their early-20s, and haven't been that age in quite a while. If we each looked back to our early-20s, my guess is that we'd find a period where we were trying to establish our careers, and were receiving low pay to boot. Faced with a chance to do it all over again, with the options Soupcxan possesses, of course we'd all probably choose Option #1. Yet at the same time, can Soupcxan really put a price/value on his/her early-20s? That's essentially what s/he's being asked to do. Personally, I'd be more inclined to choose Option #2 and enjoy that time of my life, while getting an MBA at the same time. Soupcxan has 30+ years of working in front of him/her, and wouldn't necessarily be doomed to only earning $60k/year. With 5 years of working experience (and a likely 3% raise each year, and perhaps more based on other factors, not the least of which is getting the MBA), Soupcxan would be in an ideal position in his/her late-20s to make a move to a six-figure job, while having enjoyed his/her early-and-mid-20s to the fullest.

Second, travel is exciting for the first few months, but thereafter gets very old in a hurry. While traveling, it's difficult to form friendships and romantic relationships. Again, one's early-to-mid-20s are prime times to have experiences with friends and significant others that will last a lifetime. Likewise, it's very difficult to establish eating, sleeping and fitness schedules while on the road. Think back on the last time you had to travel for work. I'd bet you found that it was difficult to eat regularly, sleep a full night in a strange hotel and find time/places to work out. Yet even if you could do these things, when you're on the road you're at the beck-and-call of your boss or the customer, so the little free time you have is still not your own.

Third, what happens to Soupcxan in his/her late-20s after spending 5 years on the road and working 80 hour weeks? Soupcxan will feel burned out, and will probably have lost the energy it takes to advance up the ranks. Likewise, Soupcxan will not have the MBA s/he could have gotten in his/her spare time. Speaking from some experience, I can tell you that a graduate degree is critical in today's corporate environment, not necessarily for advancement purposes (although I recall reading a statistic that 1 year of graduate school is equal to 3-5 years of working when it comes to corporate advancement), but more for the purpose of being taken seriously. Soupcxan will be competing against people his/her own age who have MBAs, and all of his/her efforts in putting in 80 hour weeks and 100% travel won't mean that much as compared to an MBA degree. I know that many MBAs are full of it, and don't have a clue as compared to people who are "on the ground," but perception often trumps reality in the corporate world.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 05:07 PM   #8
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

I am going to go against the grain... Job #2 will give you the best outcome long term, particularly if you use your "spare" time to get the MBA. If the employer pays the tuition for the MBA there is your $20T!

I have known folks who accepted the 100% travel jobs. It doesn't take long to get lonely. I know one guy who traveled with his cat because he needed someone who looked forward to his return each day. Alcohol, restaurant food, and lack of regular exercise can take years off your life (talk to FDIC auditors). Travel can be exciting for a while, but it soon looses its allure.

If you want to save money go to work at Microsoft. My nephew lived on a couch in his office for months. He saved enough for a down payment on a house.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 06:21 PM   #9
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Just to add a few things...there's nothing to say that I couldn't do Job 1 for a few years, then get a more "normal" job at the company without the crazy hours and travel (thats what most people do after a few years). And at that point, I could certainly still pursue an MBA in my free time.

Also, I wonder about the idea of doing Job 2, getting my MBA (at which point I'd have 5 years of experience), and then making a move to another company. My current company is not known for high salaries...anecdotal evidence suggests that I could break the 6 figure barrier quicker if I went somewhere else. The tradeoff is job security, but that may be an illusion in ANY company these days...and if I were married by that point, a second income could help mitigate the risk. But maybe I'm suffering from "grass is greener" syndrome, and a new company would have most of the same issues as the current one.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 06:31 PM   #10
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Quote:
If you want to save money go to work at Microsoft. *My nephew lived on a couch in his office for months. *He saved enough for a down payment on a house.
Funny you say that... when you walk down the halls at MSFT late at night (11ish), you see some weird stuff. First, you notice the night crew cleaning stuff up.... normal.... then you walk past a few offices and see folks working late putting in a few good hours of half-life or Unreal 2004.... then you see some strange folks.... folks that are using scotch tape to construct "bars" in their doorway (perhaps they are subconsciously expressing how they feel?).... I suppose that's what happens after 80+ hours/week. You could live in your office at MSFT though.... if you're "blue" they even have showers and beds for employees to use, but I would rather go home to my apartment. They do have the BEST employee picnic ever though.

As for the job option... I would go with #2 for some of the very reasons listed above. Not only can you have a life, meet a hot babe, but you can also get your MBA. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 06:36 PM   #11
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Quote:
if I were married by that point
Good luck meeting the Mrs if you're always working

My fiance is on her way to become a nurse anesthesiologist.... talk about job security and great pay! When I add her expected income stream to the Excel spreadsheed, the pessimistic frown melts away....If you find the RIGHT girl (one that you won't divorce), she can improve the bottom line considerably.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 07:02 PM   #12
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

The advantage of working for a firm like Microsoft is that you can be exceptional (in every sense), and successful. One of my great joys is seeing math "geeks" rewarded. They are not the only house, tech or otherwise, with unreal hours.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 07:20 PM   #13
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

It was interesting to see the other responses... My own inclination would be #2, hands down.

I think it is a lot harder to step down from an 80-hour schedule than it is to never start it in the first place. Do you really want to be in the position of not having any free time to develop hobbies, friendships, etc, or to just unwind? How much are you going to appreciate your travel when it's all business? It's not like you'll have that much time to sight-see, I imagine. And hotels are hotels pretty much around the world.

Also, the salary difference isn't THAT substantial. $60k is hardly peanuts. The #1 job asks for *more than double* the work and time commitment, yet it doesn't pay even close to twice as much (when really it should pay more than twice as much, since the stress of working extra hours adds up quickly.) Sure, you could save more, but it's not a substantial enough amount of extra savings to mean that you could retire in just a couple of years... so I'd say, better to take the lower-stress job and prevent burn-out.

What do you want to do in your job? Valuing #1 because it puts you on the career fast-track sounds like the kind of jargon people spill out because they're brainwashed to think that getting promoted is the be-all and end-all of their jobs. "Up" is only a relevant direction if something you specifically want is "up" there. Would you actively like the work involved in #1 so much better that you would gladly give up 40+ hours of your free time to do it?

The comments from Jay_Gatsby about the effects of constant travel on your life are excellent. Are you going to be able to eat properly and exercise regularly while you're on this 80-hour, plane-hopping schedule? Wrecking your health in your 20s for a small amount of financial gain doesn't sound too appealing to me.

Also, I've noticed from my husband's work schedule and that of his co-workers in different places, that the people who work long hours rarely have time to keep up with new developments and learn new skills... but it's those things that make them desirable candidates for a raise or a better job. He sticks adamantly to a 40-hour work week (in the computer software industry - yes, he is stubborn about sticking up for himself) and has time to do programming projects on his own, learn about new techniques, read many books, and write - he has written a book and many articles... which recently landed him a fab job going "up" the career ladder (in his case, doing something he really wanted to do). If you just put in tons of hours, you'll most likely be too worn out to do exactly the kind of self-improvement that will pay off later.

Don't underestimate the negative effects of a "high stress" and long-hours job. Honestly. I'd choose #2 in the blink of an eye, get my MBA if that appealed to me, develop the interests and hobbies that would keep me sane and healthy in the long run. You only have so many hours of free time in your life - don't sell them to your company unless you absolutely have to.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-14-2004, 07:37 PM   #14
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Soupxcan,
You are in a great position to have these choices. I am not sure what your long term goals are so I can't really offer advice but here are come comments based on my experience.

I worked a 100% travel job for 3 years in my early 20's.
Pros:
1) Network opportunity like no other. Who you know..
2) Potential to save ALOT of money if not keeping a car/apt
3) Fast track for promotions and wider breadth of experience
4) Travel opportunities not accessible to most
5) Frequent traveler miles and points = free vacations

But as with anything else in life, these are only advantages if you exercise them, it still take work to make the most of it, you can squander it as well.

Cons:
1) Taxing on relationships; new relations are transient, LTR vvvv difficult
2) May get assigned an undesirable locale
3) Hard to escape/decompress from the stress and hours
4) Faster path to burnout. -- I say from experience.

If you go with job 1.
-Definitely don't keep you own place/car/etc. I could have saved alot of money while I was on the road, but I didn't :-(
-I thought if you are "based" out of US office, your travel home should be re-imbursable and not taxed by IRS unless you have been there more than 1 year.
-Find a fitness routine that is portable. You need to keep healthy from eating out and have a stress relief outlet
-Know what you want out of it. Is it travel experience? Is it fast track to a promotion? Once you are on the fast track, do you know when its time to get off. Why are you motivated to be on fast track? Is it to ER faster? Or is it for your ego as an achievement oriented person. (I'm not being judgemental; but its important that you understand if your actions are aligned with your values). For me it was the former, so this realization has been harder for me than expected.

In my early 20's it was all about upward mobility, job promotion, higher title, better salary. Well, I confess, while I've turned into a successful professional at a large respected company, I am also seriously burnt out, bitter, and too eager to ER.

So now the way I see it when you compare with Job 2, you are practically working double the hours 80 vs 45, for only 10K more. You maybe able to get a second part time job and earn that amount with less stress.

Bottom line, I think that right path depends on your goals and priorities. At 21, I wanted a job 1. I went after it, and got what I sought: the success, achived that upward climb. Today, as I realize I am approaching 30 and acknowledging the success corresponded with high stress , long work hours, and a certain level of resentment, job 2 looks alot more attractive to me.

Good Luck and keep us posted!

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You gotta be kidding.
Old 11-14-2004, 09:28 PM   #15
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You gotta be kidding.

After two decades of career advice from military assignment officers, here's what I've learned about the "fast track": Taking the assignment officer's recommended jobs does more to solve their problems than it does to solve yours. Do what makes you happy. Your career will sort itself out whether or not you take the "right" jobs, but it'll quickly go down the toilet if you're not happy.

Here's another metaphor. At a huge university, there's more competition for everything: professors (not just TAs), lab classes, rooms, parking, top grades, quarterback on the football team-- even bench-warming for the football team. If you come in at the top 2%, your quality of education will be much better than the other 98%. The problem is competing with 10,000 others to be one of the top 200!

At smaller schools there's less competition for the same things, yet you can come in at the top 10-15% and still dramatically improve your life. In fact, you can do better than the big school because you have options not available to undergrad students at big universities-- research under professors, world travel, internships, etc. And don't think that smaller schools are lower quality-- there may be less money sloshing around but many professors, staff, and endowments prefer small schools to big schools for the same reasons that students prefer them.

Job #1 sounds like a version of the big university-- "fast track" with lots of competition, insane hours to keep up with the rest of the "team", lots of stress. It's hard to break out and be #1 in this situation. Although you'll be exposed to a lot, you'll be watching from the sidelines instead of in charge of the process-- self-improvement is almost impossible. Forget about a life.

Job #2 sounds like a smaller school-- a much easier opportunity to break out, more opportunities to take charge of a project, more chances to pursue your own interests, more leisure time to do so, and a wonderful chance to pursue self-improvement. Oh, yeah, and if you happen to want to marry & start a family you'll actually be able to choose between career & family-- or maybe even forge a compromise!

I've had several military versions of job #1. I highly recommend job #2.
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Re: You gotta be kidding.
Old 11-14-2004, 09:36 PM   #16
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Re: You gotta be kidding.

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Your career will sort itself out whether or not you take the "right" jobs, but it'll quickly go down the toilet if you're not happy.
How true it is!
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-15-2004, 07:16 AM   #17
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

I had to make the same choice, and I chose door #2. For a while, I worked at Accenture (FKA Andersen Consulting), home of many stressed out, 80+ hour a week consultants who travelled all the time. I didn't have a line job, so I was a 50 hour a week home office employee. I gave up some advancement opportunity within the company, but I gained a number of things:

- I was able to pursue my MBA at night and on the weekends. This has dramatically improved my income, career prospects and allows me to do more interesting work.

- I didn't burn out like oh-so-many line consultants. I had time for my wife and family, I made enough to do everything I wanted to, and I had good balance in my life.

- Something that I haven't seen mentioned here, I had time to do my own investing. I know that many here are passive indexers and the like, but I have been actively managing my portfolio (mostly in the selection of securities; not lots of trading). You work 80 hours a week, you barely have time to see what level the indexes are at.

Soupcxan, you may have different priorities than I had/have, and that is fine. But I would suggest that you give up a lot by taking Job #1. You give up some pay and potential advancement with Job #2, but you can pretty easily make up for that (and then some) with an MBA.

In the field of finance, overwork is a definate professional disease. If you start down that road today, it may be difficult to step down later on.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-15-2004, 07:49 AM   #18
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

I'd take job one. In your early twenties, many people have the energy to travel full time and it's not so bad living out a hotel room. At least you don't have to clean!

For close to twenty years I spent weeks and months at a time on the road in a good paying job. And because I lived on expenses I was able to put an extra $10,000 per year away. Also didn't have to spend money on vacations since I didn't feel the need to travel during my down time.

Now that I'm in my late 40s I've scaled way back at work but have just been offered a position (as part of my current job) that would entail traveling domestically up to 50 percent of the time. I don't want to do it and will turn it down because I no longer have the desire, drive, or energy.

Heck...try the travel gig. If you don't like it, you can go back to a more sane schedule in another position. Easier said than done, I know, but sounds like you're in demand and so have options. Good luck!



Do it now. Save everything you can 'cause once you get to my ripe older age chances are you'll no longer want to travel as much.
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-15-2004, 11:54 AM   #19
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Quote:
My fiance is on her way to become a nurse anesthesiologist.... talk about job security and great pay! When I add her expected income stream to the Excel spreadsheed, the pessimistic frown melts away....If you find the RIGHT girl (one that you won't divorce), she can improve the bottom line considerably.
Or who won't divorce you.

Most of us get married, but being married is like a very long military campaign with an unprotected and unprotectable flank.

One way to allow for marriage in your spreadsheet calculations (a fairly weenie thing to do anyway, IMO), is to use a "marriage factor". 50% of marriages end in divorce, and divorce will always cost you a minimum of 60% of your joint assets (not to mention the possibility of spousal support, child support, criminal lawyers to defend you against various nasty allegations made by your former dearly beloved, etc, etc..)

So you need to multiply your smile inducing figures by the conditional probability that you will ever see much of it. As I see it, there are 2 equally probable states. You won't know until you either divorce, or one of you dies, which one you got.

State 1, no divorce, leaves you with $X. (Over which you will some some ill-defined and questionable control. But we'll ignore this issue, it just gets too depressing.)

State 2 optimistically leaves you with $(1-.6)*X. So your "expectation" is X/2+.4X/2=1.4X/2, or $.7 X.

I suppose if she will add more than this, or you like your chances better than those of the average guy (almost always an error-see any text on Bayesian Analysis), and if insecurity is not destabilizing to your personality you might see a green light for marriage.

Or, you might take a page from investment advisors, and only enter with "Resources you can afford to lose".

Actually, I should quit sharing this with younger men. If any of you ever took it to heart, it would decimate the US birthrate, thus making future supply of workers to support me in my dotage even more chancy.

So forget everything I said. I didn't mean it, really, I didn't..

Mikey
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Re: Advice: which job to take?
Old 11-15-2004, 12:45 PM   #20
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Re: Advice: which job to take?

Soupcxan:

Just repeating what have been said: know yourself, your endurance and priorities. If it's me that have to make the decision, I would most likely pick job #2 just because I don't think I can last too long in the workforce if I have to work 80 hours every week and live in a hotel room. I have been to few business trips that lasted anywhere from a week to few months and the thrill of travelling got old very quickly. It wasn't fun for me and I would rather not doing it every day for a mere 10K more. Getting an MBA may be better, especially if you are not planning to stay in that company for a long time.

Perdiem - the way it works in our company is this: the company gives you X dollar/day for meals (in our company it applies for meals only). If you do not spend all X dollars, you get to keep the rest. You can save quite a lot of money if you opt out for cheap meals. Example: Perdiem rate = $60/day but you only use $20/day, so you save $40/day. In a month you can earn extra $1200 just by eating cheap (I don't know how US taxation treat perdiem though, someone else can probably tell you). So yeah, travelling job can be quite lucrative but is it worth it? Only you can decide.

Jane
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