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First off, I think my title is maybe a bit vague, so feel free to edit.

My current situation is as follows. I recently decided to leave the previous company I worked for due to a number of reasons, but considering the work I was doing there I was never unhappy.

Now, however, at my new job, it is a different story. When I interviewed here to be a developer, the world was promised. "Yes, you will be coding, designing, etc. etc.", but that is definitely not the case.

As a developer, when assuming a role as a primary developer (to clarify, primary here means I should be primarily coding, not a lead developer), I would expect the following breakdown:

  • 50% - 60% actual coding
  • 20% design
  • the rest - testing / admin etc.

Is this an unrealistic expectation? Currently, my breakdown is as follows:

  • 1% actual coding
  • 95% testing / upgrading / wondering why everything is breaking that the previous guys have done
  • 4% drinking coffee, as the boredom is killing me

I realize that for some people that might be what they want to do, but coming from quite an academic background, I enjoy problem-solving and grappling with a problem until you figure it out. And off-course, doing a lot of coding. It has actually reached a point once or twice where I was told to roll back changes I have made (for the better!) becuase: "Yes, I know it's better, but revert because it wasn't the task assigned to you!" And I mean, it's not like it took me a day of work which I could have spent otherwise, it was 5 minute changes.

Now, my real question is this. Seeing as I'm feeling that I will not grow as a developer here, how fast should I get out of this? Should I stay a while longer and see if things change? I have spoken to some of the other developers here and they say that this is just the way things are. A group of about 10 people write about 99% of the code, and they have all been here for about 10 years.

My two concerns are:

  1. I would probably have to take a pay cut if I move, since they pay quite generously here.
  2. Having a company for 2 - 3 months on your CV doesn't always look good.

I could really use some help from someone who has some experience in this? Maybe someone has had a similar situation?


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Does the team practice knowledge sharing? (1) have a wiki that contains good introductory information on most aspects of the design and implementation (2) do not try to hide any important information/decisions from other members (3) do they answer your questions and explain why something would be broken by your commits? Note that some teams prefer email, or instant-messaging, or face-to-face, or whiteboard - you should fit into their preferred way of communication, not the other way round. –  rwong Aug 26 '11 at 6:58
Don't stick it out just because it might look bad on your resume. That is the worst reason to stay in a job. A 2-3 month job will invite questions (why did you leave) but if you have a good answer - and it sounds like you have - then that would turn into a plus rather than a minus. And leaving for such a reason would convince me more to hire you as a developer than if you stuck it out for a year. –  Marjan Venema Aug 26 '11 at 8:50
@Marjan Venema - Thanks, how I feel too. You should have made that an answer :) +1 from me. –  Nico Huysamen Aug 26 '11 at 9:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well, it depends on a few main points:

How long have you been in the workforce?

I see for you personally (sorry for Google-snooping) it appears to be approximately 2 years. Correct me if I'm wrong. With just 2 years of real-world experience, it can be valuable for you to learn things from those 10 people writing the majority of the code.

Even if you don't like the way they work, or if they're doing it wrong, it can be helpful to see other programming viewpoints, or even to say "Hey, I don't want to be anything like THAT guy when I get older".

Are you able to achieve personal satisfaction elsewhere?

Sometimes, for the sake of sanity and happiness, we take less money for better jobs. Other times, life dictates that we need the money, so we stick through a crappy job and try to validate our lives with side projects. Try getting involved with some open-source projects that are keen to your interests, if you need the job you are at for money.

Have you actually tried finding another job yet?

Companies are almost always willing to hire good talent. Sure, it may look bad on your CV to have less than 6 months at a given job, but you're young and new to the industry, so a little bit of shuffling is to be expected. I don't recommend badmouthing your current job, but saying "there wasn't enough growth or learning opportunity" usually tells your interviewer that you're interested in learning and have passion about what you do. Those are 2 surprisingly rare qualities in our field.

Job hops are OK within reason. If you end up with too many, just say you were a contractor or consultant :)

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Thanks for the great reply. Regarding your first point. I realize having only 2 years actual working experience is small. Unfortunately (and I mean this in the most unvain way possible), there isn't really anything for me to learn here. As for points 2 and 3, yes and yes :) - Thanks for the vote on job hopping, makes me more at ease. –  Nico Huysamen Aug 26 '11 at 6:55
Yup, sometimes you find yourself working with a whole bunch of morons. It happens. The question you'll have to answer is "is the money worth dealing with it, and can I find other things to stimulate my mind and career in the meantime?" –  Jordan Aug 26 '11 at 7:03

As a developer, when assuming a role as a primary developer, I would expect the following breakdown...

You are not one of the about 10 people there writing 99% of the code. You are the main developer.

Of course you cannot spend most of the time coding. The development of an application is not only coding. Actually, many times coding take up the least part of a development process. You will have to design, write down documentation, debug, make sure everything works as expected, etc...

You have many responsibilities in your position.

If what you like is only coding and problem solving/algorithms, then maybe that's not the right position for you. Probably being one of those 10 people spending their whole time only coding would be better for you.

Try to ask them if they like to spend all their time coding, or if they prefer to have different tasks to do.

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"to clarify, primary here means I should be primarily coding, not a lead developer" –  Péter Török Aug 26 '11 at 7:48
@Péter "Yes, you will be coding, designing, etc. etc.", "I should be primarily coding". Since we don't know the exact situation, and what he and his hirers said to each other, I thought that maybe he just misunderstand his position. –  Jose Faeti Aug 26 '11 at 7:53
I'm not sure this response actually addresses the question at hand. –  Jordan Aug 26 '11 at 7:53
If all you do is coding, then you don't have time to make design decisions. –  user1249 Aug 26 '11 at 8:11

I have been in this situation for quite a long while. I too had the same advantage of getting a good pay.

I can tell you that over a period of 3-4 years your technical skills will hit rock bottom and you will be in the bottom most part of the payscale within the company. And the reason they will give you is that you dont have enough technical skills. Also you will be rated based on how many hours you work cause they dont have any other metric to rate you on.

In my case I tried to shift to other teams who actually write code, but they will never move any one from our team. There are still 4-5 people in that team stuck in there for ever.

Its ok to stay in the company for about a year and then start looking outside, if you are afraid of your resume looking bad. Its actually a mistake by the company to hire people with wrong set of skills and interest.

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