Do I stay or do I go?
June 30, 2012 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Do I stay in the position I'm in, where I've been promised an significantly better environment but haven't seen anything realized yet; or do I get a new job which may not be quite as fantastic but is what I actually want to be doing?

I am a software developer who for the last five or so years has been a Ruby developer, primarily working in Rails. I've been in environments which are quasi-/proto-Agile, in particular integrating extreme programming concepts, but for at least three years I've been really wanting to get into a company that does Agile development in a serious, effective, wholly integrated way. I'm kind of aching for it to be honest, after working in so many dysfunctional environments for so much of my career.

Last year, when I was in the middle of a job search, a friend of mine put me in touch with his colleague--someone I have very high regard for--who was creating a new subsidiary of a bigger company. Let's call him Bob. Bob's new subsidiary would be focusing on Agile development. The fantastic part was that, because the parent company is in my city, it was inevitable (I was told) that one of the first places the subsidiary would set up is in my city, which I don't want to leave.

Bob and I got together a few times and he told me about his plan to start the branch in my city in four or five months. Needless to say, I was super excited: he wanted to bring me in, I wanted to work with him, things were looking like they were going to all click together in an awesome way.

I got a job offer from another company a few weeks after my first meeting with him, and so I was between a rock and a hard place (let's just say that I didn't have employment at the time, which is more or less true). I let him know that I had to make a decision, pretty much immediately. He was straight with me: there wasn't a job doing what I wanted to do at the time, but...the parent company had some open positions, so he could drop me in there for the time being, and bring me over to the subsidiary as soon as that was set up.

The parent company does mostly PHP stuff, in a completely non-Agile way. I don't intend to start any flamewars with this but let us just say that I had a stint doing PHP development for about four years, and I made a solid decision to not do it again for a variety of reasons. More to the point, the development team at this parent company was not Agile, the management doesn't understand development (Agile or not!), etc. Point is, it was NOT where I wanted to be.

So I was not super excited about this, but I thought, "hey, I'll be doing Rails development on an Agile team with one of the best soon, so I can swing it for four or five months, if it's just short term." Better yet, it turned out that there was a tiny, wee bit of Ruby work to be done, so I wouldn't be stuck doing PHP the whole time.

Flash forward to 10 months later.

I'm still in the same spot. Nothing has changed, and I've actually started to do more and more PHP work because...the Ruby well has run dry. The team continues to be a mess, exhibiting all of the behavior of a dysfunctional engineering team working under management who don't understand development.

Every time I talk to Bob, when he drops into the parent company's city, he says, "yeah, we're working through a bunch of stuff we have to deal with, we just don't have the ability to set up a team in your city yet, I'm sorry. Real Soon Now."

I haven't received responses to the last four emails I've sent him.

In the meantime, I've let a few opportunities fly by. The job I turned down was not extremely Agile, but it would have taught me a lot about distributed programming, I would have been surrounded by programmers who are better than me, and I would have been paid better ta boot. It looked really nice, but this company was a better fit at the time (or so I thought).

Another guy I've gotten to be friends with through a colleague here recently has suggested I apply to his Rails shop, where they are doing TDD, continuous integration, daily standups, etc...

I'm hesistant to apply to anything because I still trust Bob a lot. I *know* he's not jerking me around, but I've just drifted to the bottom of a list that is insanely long, and before dealing with me he has to deal with the shit it takes to get a business running. He's transparent with me, which is good. And if and when this happens, it really will put me in an amazing position.

But I'm getting really frustrated. I work with engineers who have vastly different philosophies than mine (if they have philosophies at all). My Rails skills are stagnating. I write TDD code to find that it's been broken by the next person working on my code, because they...just don't give a fuck. And there's no technical leadership on the team. I've tried gently to push people in my direction of thinking but I don't want to be "that guy" (I already kind of feel like I am).

Just now (what kind of sparked this post), I found what looks like an amazing Agile RoR job about a 20-minute commute from where I live. I'm really tempted to apply, as it seems likely I would be a great fit, and developers are in pretty high demand.

People, what should I do? How long do I stick it out? Or should I stop hoping for something that would be incredible, if it happens, in order to keep my career afloat in the here and now? What happens if I'm at this place for another year? I think I will shoot myself.

Thanks for reading.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Apply to the new job, take it if you get it. Reassess if/when Bob gets his shit together.
posted by missmagenta at 7:47 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Dude, APPLY.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Leave. (well, try fir that new job and if you get it, take it.) Write Bob a letter telling him how much you hope you get a chance to work with him in the future. And that meanwhile you've taken a new job to improve your skills, keep your skills top-notch, etc. You can't waste your life waiting for this great thing that might never happen. The only one who is really looking out for you is you, so do so.

I say this coming from my perspective - I've just spent an entire year watching a friend in a similar situation. The job he was promised still hasn't materialized and he's miserable.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Apply to the new job. You haven't even applied, much less gotten an interview, much less gotten an offer. Once you have an interview, you will see if the job really is more what you are looking for, and then, if it is, you can decide to accept it or mention to Bob that you have an offer and see what he says. But you are way overthinking these steps: applying for a new job is not a binding contract.

(It sounds like probably you should take the new job, if you are offered it and if you like the company during the interview. But you don't have to accept a job offer if you change your mind during the process.)
posted by jeather at 8:11 AM on June 30, 2012

Talk is cheap. Move on. Try to leverage a job offer from the new company with Bob if you want, but don't hold your breath.
posted by txmon at 8:22 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's a moment in history where (at least in some cities), a good RoR developer can basically get his/her dream job in any environment at any salary - the demand is through the roof right now. Because of this, I've seen people jump ship for a lot less than what you're putting up with. I'd even argue that by treading water doing PHP (not that there's anything wrong with PHP, but it's not what you want to do), you're holding yourself back from great RoR opportunities, and the longer you do that, the more the hiring manager in your next role will be utterly perplexed as to why. You can certainly be gracious and maintain the relationship with Bob going forward, but it seems like you know that it's time to leave.
posted by judith at 9:15 AM on June 30, 2012

Life is too short for "if and when." You're not happy. Look for and take an opportunity where you can be happier right now. If Bob isn't jerking you around, he'll understand.
posted by sm1tten at 9:33 AM on June 30, 2012

I haven't received responses to the last four emails I've sent him.

For whatever reason, he can't follow through on his promise and you have waited for twice as long as he promised you would have to. The last thing you want to happen is for the new company to open and you NOT get a position because someone with more current Ruby skills also caught his eye.
posted by saucysault at 9:45 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Real Soon Now means never. I have no idea what you're waiting around for.
posted by ook at 9:57 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, which is more than four mummified mice and a chewed pencil stub in the hip pocket.

Apply to the new job, take it if you get it. Reassess if/when Bob gets his shit together.
posted by flabdablet at 10:17 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Leave, you're not happy, this is not complicated!
posted by wrok at 12:44 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

As somebody who moved recently: move.

This new place isn't sunshine and lollipops either. But at least it's different, and I feel like I have some control over my life. I wouldn't wait nearly as long to move next time. It's amazing how much better work is when your attitude is 'well, I'll stick around here while it's working for me, and I'm happy to put in some hard graft, but the minute it goes sisyphean, I'm outta here.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm for taking the chance with the new opportunity..

You seem unfulfilled on a number of levels, not just technical, so any change would be good I think.

I just left my current employer because of unfulfilled promises and ever missed projections.

You can only take so much of people breaking your tests, or in my case being unable to use source control... before your head explodes.. you need competent peers.
posted by anthroprose at 7:26 PM on June 30, 2012

Another recent mover who was in a similar situation (promised amazing promotion that never happened!) here to say you should move. I imagine you will wonder if you made the right decision for perhaps a few days into your new job, at which point you will realize that there is no better feeling than the cloud of letdown having been lifted, feeling like you've got a fresh chance of going places now.

I'm with DarlingBri that whether you want the job or not, you really really really should apply. Even just doing that is taking back some control over your situation, reminding yourself that you have the power to change this thing in your life that you don't like.
posted by houndsoflove at 9:37 PM on June 30, 2012

From the OP:
Dear benevolent and wise MeFites,

Clearly, the chorus has spoken and it has said "stop sitting on your ass and apply for some other jobs." Your pretty much unanimous (did anyone *not* think that I should be applying for jobs? I don't think so) advice prodded me to get in gear, and I wanted to let you know what has happened in the week since I posted the question.

1) I've applied to the company I mentioned. I have a remote interview (apparently the hiring manager is in Belgium right now) in about an hour.

2) I've also sent my resume off to the buddy at the RoR shop I mentioned; he said they are going to try and recruit me next quarter.

3) And last but not at all least, I was so fed up today I sent an email to "Bob," which was probably more aggressively...proactive than any I'd sent (but not rude, I swear), clearly stating that I did not fit where I was and that I was stagnating as a developer, a.k.a. "please get me out of here or else." He replied to me immediately, apologizing very sincerely, and asking to set up a Skype meeting next week.

Frankly, I'm probably most interested in having things work out at my present company. I think my major failing has been a reluctance to assert myself: I needed to get it into my head that it is okay to do so, and now that I have (thanks to you all and some other friends I have), I've seen things start changing almost overnight.

In any case, regardless of which one of these three paths I go down, I will not be sitting on my ass waiting for much longer I suspect.

Thanks folks. Ask MeFi saves another lost soul, yet again.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:14 AM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

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