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I'm currently in a situation where many people on here likely find themselves: I love to program, I do a lot of fun side projects, but it is not my profession. I work as an Electrical Engineering project manager, but at one point I wrote a software application that solved a tricky signal processing problem early in my career.

Now the company is creating a product which will include the same functionality I created a while ago. They have asked for my assistance in designing it into the system, and to potentially help program it. My question for the community is: how have you dealt with this type of situation in the past with regards to pay and responsibility?

While I would love to program as a full-time job, I am not ready to make a switch into that role. I would be happy to work on this in addition to my job, but I feel this type of specialized work would merit some form of bonus or side contract. I imagine it could also lead to an ongoing support responsibility, but I figure this could be handed off to the normal development team once the design and initial implementation is complete. Would this be an unreasonable request in a typical Fortune500?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Let's face it -- if you are stuck with more responsibility than your job description would suggest, you're probably right to be asking for additional compensation. Whether or not your superiors will know and understand this is probably up in part to fate and in part to your presentation.

I think often in software development, one's role changes from time to time. Perhaps they'd like you to forgo your current position for a short time to complete this task (or simply have you manage this new subproject until it's ready to be handed-off). I know that despite being a software developer, for the past 3 weeks I've had to work about half of my time in more of a systems administration role simply because our interfacing with a vendor's product isn't going well. If this is the case, you're simply replacing responsibility with another, and hopefully any extra stress might be allayed by the novelty of a different line of work temporarily. I know for the first two days I was saying "Yeay! I get to play with the databases!"

So, if you're going to be stuck with extra work, it's probably a great idea to at least ask for extra pay. If you're going to get a little break from your usual position to fill another temporarily, it might just be good brownie points.

But a last note about support roles attributed to Michael Sinz:

Programming is like sex. One mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.

This could very well happen depending on how your project is planned. If you're not comfortable with this kind of thing, be sure to confirm with whoever is in charge of developing the product that there will be a support structure in place to support this product and that you'll be no way involved. Essentially, plan ahead to wash your hands of it.

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