I'm in Redmond today; Microsoft flew me out to an interview. I was excited, though nervous, to come -- but after a day full of interviews and driving around Seattle last night, I really just want to be home.
I guess it was just an underwhelming day -- so underwhelming that I feel pretty burdened down with it. I didn't really do good on the interviews, and I highly doubt I'll get an offer. It's not that I did bad, but I don't feel like I really connected with the interviewers like I hoped to. But even if I did get an offer, would it be something to celebrate?
According to my interviewers and recruiter, Microsoft 1) does not offer a signing bonus like Amazon, 2) doesn't care about a Masters degree, and 3) pays about $10k less than Amazon. Sure, they claim have a "better atmosphere" and aggressive bonuses with more flexible hours. Maybe that's true, but it's REALLY hard to know that from the outside. One interviewer told me the wage if I got hired as a college student, 'level 59,' is 75k; plug that number into this site:
and you'll see that it's similar to making a bit under 45k in Provo. Yikes! OK, granted, this calculator seems low. Some other ones say it's more like 60k. Hard to say though, really, when homes are 350-450k! Gas prices are $3.20 here. In fact, a lot seems "more expensive" overall; it's not just the housing to consider. Everything is "more expensive" and homes are impossible to afford unless you bought 10 years ago before the housing boom. Since it's all so expensive, it makes it that much harder to gauge how much you'll really have to afford a home.
On top of that, throughout this whole salary job hunt process I've been a bit discouraged by the general inability for people to actually accurately represent cost of living in the Seattle area. The people from these companies that I talk to seem to think it's great, but they all are in very different circumstances. They all say, "Oh yes! It's very easy to live on what they offer! I just got a job here, and we already bought a home!" And then you find out that BOTH them and their spouse have the same 80k job, and they have no kids. Niiiiiiice. Another group of people say it's easy to live on 80k... but they aren't married, and have a roomate to share rent. So the vibe I'm getting here is that it's a great wage, if you're single or dual income childless. I've heard no real compelling arguments that 75k is a "great wage" from someone who has done it with a family. I do however read on forums things like: "It is very hard to make here with a family if you make under 80k. "
I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping to maybe save for a few years, then buy a low end but livable home. I was hoping that getting a masters degree, work experience at IBM, a job at one of the top companies would be a fairly good step up from living as a collage student. I thought 75k would be a prize! It sure sounds like it should be. But adjusted for cost of living? We'd certainly never buy a home when home prices here are 350k-450k. I feel like I could give a speech when I graduate: "Hey everybody! I'd like to thank my wife for going through a master's degree with me! She's been great, and patient, while our other friends get houses and 'real jobs' -- and now that my grand plan for success is over and I work for a great well known company, we're going to celebrate by NEVER OWNING A HOME! Isn't that great? You can visit us anytime you want -- we'll be in a burned out van down by the river, since the rent is so cheap there..."
I know, I know -- I'm exaggerating. I guess I'm just disappointed at what I thought was a poor performance on my interviews, combined with no one really telling me what it's like to live in Seattle as a family. I haven't gotten my offer from Amazon; when I do get it though, how do I accurately asses what it's like to live here? Am I worried about nothing? How much does IBM need to offer to be not only 'competitive' but to make me really want to move to CT? I'm not sure, but everything I read on Seattle cost of living scares me.
Mostly, I just want to go hop on a plane and be home. I want to get back to life as normal and forget about strange expensive cities where no one actually has a family on one income anymore. I look forward to reading a Cara blog entry about the nobility of a classic family provider-homemaker arrangement, just because at this moment it feels foreign to everyone up here.
We'll see what Monday brings; I get my offer from Amazon then. I'm hoping that a good night sleep, some research, and a good offer turn my day around on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to sit alone in my hotel room and do schoolwork -- at least school is something in my comfort zone. Or, maybe, do my work for IBM, where I'm one of the experts on our little project.