Should I quit my second job? I'm only one month in.
February 9, 2019 9:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm really worried about this. I left my first job 9 months after being there, it was a terrible place and I just could not handle it. I needed to get out of there so I took another offer bur now I'm not sure if I made a mistake.

To be frank everything about my new job is ten times better than the old one except for one thing and it is pretty big and it is what is worrying me the most. I'm a Computer Science graduate and this job involves very little programming. Most of that's done is clicking a lot of screens, I feel like glorified customer support and quite frankly I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want to stagnate within software development. I like programming and I want to learn more. The idea of pointing and clicking all day long does not appeal to me very much.

I don't really know what I'm going to do, I'm not sure I can even hold out for 1 year at that job. I just feel like I'm not even doing anything important. I really regret having taken this job. I knew it sounded too good to be true. I'm really freaking out about it.

I don't know if I'm worrying too much. I'm just afraid that if I don't keep my skills sharp no one will ever hire me.
posted by Braxis to Work & Money (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think that it would be a good idea to try to stick it out for a year, especially if all other aspects of your job are great. It's good to have some stability and a solid reference on your resume, and I'm sure there are plenty of skills that you can gain from this role which will help you in the future.

In the mean time, surely there are other ways to enhance your programming skills and make sure you are attractive for future roles

* Go to meet ups, workshops, conferences etc.
* Work on projects in your own time, or spend time teaching yourself
* Put together a folio of your work (maybe on GitHub?)
* Try to learn from your colleagues
* Once you're more established in the company, discuss your goals and ambitions with your boss and see whether they can help you get there.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:53 PM on February 9, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you're not in the US, my advice may not apply, but if you have a CS degree and an internship that will give you a good reference, you should not be doing a point-and-click job!

What did you expect the job to look like? If you thought it was a programming job, have you talked to your boss about the job not being what you expected when you took it? Have other people who've been there longer had similar trajectories that led to them doing more programming (within months, not years)?

Was this your only offer when you tried to escape the other place? If you had any other offers that would probably lead to more programming work, it wouldn't hurt to call them up and say "hey, the position I accepted isn't at all as advertised - are you still hiring?"

I would absolutely be looking for another job, right now. Don't mention the current one, but don't quit it either (having a paycheck should make this job search much less desperate).
posted by Metasyntactic at 10:15 PM on February 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with continuing to look for another job. Don't panic.

When you are asked why you are looking so soon, say "the job was not what I was told it would be, and while I like x, y, and z, I really want to keep using my computer science skills " In other words, don't gripe or whine, just treat it as a misunderstanding. Which it sounds like it was.

In addition to that, ask your interviewers some questions...about specific job responsibilities, about the work culture, what kind of hours, etc. And listen to your gut. Don't take something out of panic, but because it feels right. Keep doing this job to pay your bills in the meantime.
posted by emjaybee at 10:22 PM on February 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: There are other things I can learn in there that are particularly useful. The most useful, perhaps, is this thing called lean six sigma, from what I understand a lot of automation work can be done there. So far I volunteered to automate, some processes in my team, I was hoping to make a project out of it but I get the feeling my boss is going to take his sweet time approving that. One of the company values is supposedly to challenge the status quo, I have project in mind to automate something that takes a lot of time which adheres to that value. I also spend a lot of time programming outside of work and yes I use github. I am working on a rust project right now using, learning about actors and domain driven design.

I should have also mentioned that even if I wanted to I can't stay there for more than an year or a year and a half. I'm going to be applying for an MS degree and its likely that I'll start that next year. I guess I could keep up the job search as well, see what comes up.

Still it worries me that decision might have screwed my career. My last job they had me doing nothing for over six months. I got some good experience at the end but after a while they wanted to put me back to doing nothing again. I got fed up with it and left.
posted by Braxis at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2019

Don't sweat it. You're good even if you do nothing for a year.

First, are you really learning nothing? If you're learning six sigma and domain driven design, that's something. In a future interview, just saying you learned that will come across well. Second, ask your boss if there's any work you can do coding. Don't tell him you're thinking about leaving (yet), just ask if there are / will be any opportunities.

But most importantly, how long have you been at your new job? If the answer is less than a month, then you should relax, wait, and see what the job entails before you decide to jump ship. And yes, you can always keep up the job search.

The advice I give most friends starting a new job is to relax and spend 6 months or so just figuring out what's going on at work. Be friendly and have a good attitude. I would be very cautious about challenging the status quo in the beginning, no matter what they tell you.
posted by xammerboy at 11:21 PM on February 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I have a month, thats it. They're not teaching domain driven design, I'm learning that on my own. They do need a lot of automation work. I sort of volunteered and that is going into a second phase next week. I am sort of leading the team that is working on that. If we're lucky that small project might become something larger. Given that I'm in it, and that I came up with the initial idea hopefully they'll allow me to develop it further.

I would also like to apply to Google, Apple, Microsoft or Facebook one day, which is why this worries me. Don't want to end up getting rusty with programming.
posted by Braxis at 11:28 PM on February 9, 2019

Slow down and take a deep breath. Maybe two. Your career isn't in jeopardy. Frankly you're fresh out of undergrad and can only commit to a limited time gig because of your grad school plans. After that nobody is going to much care what you did for a relatively brief stint between undergrad and grad school. If the job works for your quality of life and pays your bills, maybe even with an opportunity to learn a little more or do a bit of automation, that's really just gravy.
posted by axiom at 11:43 PM on February 9, 2019 [17 favorites]

I think it comes down to whether you feel happy day to day. Bracket the future for a moment and put it aside just to think for a second. Are you enjoying day to day your current job? If so, stick with it for a year so you don’t look like a job hopper. If you really hate it and don’t want to be there, then look around but don’t jump at the first thing that comes along. Look around carefully to find a job where you’ll feel fulfilled and happy. If you feel ok with the current job keep it for a year and then switch to something better later.
posted by cmp4Meta at 12:20 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Programmer at one of the big name companies here. Don't hyperventilate — everything will be okay.

Some basics:

0. You do not need to decide to leave your job FIRST. You can wait to decide that until *after* interviewing and finding another position.
1. If you think there might be better opportunities than your current job, interview! It's not a betrayal to interview around, nor is it a commitment to leave.
2. Getting a job doing actual programming probably *is* a good idea. But what you're doing isn't a bad idea either. Hell, I waited tables for a year and spent another year on top of that as a professional data munger who programmed at work out of sheer stubbornness, and I turned out okay.

I know these decisions seem really important. I promise that it will be okay whatever decision you make.
posted by billjings at 12:31 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Algorithm for finding a very big fish

1. Equip yourself with mask, snorkel and fins, and get in the water near a coral reef.

2. Swim about until you see a fish.

3. Follow the fish.

4. When you see a bigger fish than the fish you are following, follow that fish instead.

5. Goto 4.

I know they don't teach goto in CS these days, but step 5 is the one you've forgotten you need to do.
posted by flabdablet at 3:46 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you're sort of leading the automation effort now, then it sounds like a good idea to really focus on fully leading a project and team, and all the things that come from that.

So even though you're not developing per se, there's no reason you shouldn't be running a fully documented, version controlled and project planned software development cycle. This is what you should be getting out of this job.

But carry on looking for developer jobs, too.
posted by ambrosen at 4:20 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's very rare to land your dream job right out of school. It generally takes at least a few if not several years of working your way closer to that job until you can find it. Right now it sounds like you have a decent job in a functional environment where you are learning some skills that will help you in the future (being a developer is not just about coding) and for the stage your career is at right now, that's actually pretty good. You can relax.

I say hang tight. At your next performance review (do you get a 3-month review?) it would be appropriate to talk to your supervisor about where they see this job going for you, where you'd like it to go, and to say that you would like to see if there is a way that the company can integrate more programming time into your duties. It would be appropriate to say that you see yourself as primarily a coder, and that you would like to keep using and developing those skills. There is probably some leeway to adjust your job in that direction—maybe not as much as you'd ideally prefer, but there's a good chance they can meet you somewhere in the middle.

It's also good to keep your skills sharp on your own time, if you can. Finding some hobby projects to work on would not be a bad idea, for instance—especially something like contributing to an OSS project where you would be able to point to your accomplishments in future job interviews. And there's certainly nothing wrong with continuing to search and apply for jobs—if you get one you think would be much better than this, take it. But there's nothing in your question that seems particularly bad or would in my mind justify quitting without another offer in hand.

Your job is not perfect. Nobody's is. You can and should work toward a better one, but that's a long-term project. If you can get yourself into your dream job by the time you're ten years into your career, you'll be doing great.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:01 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I see. I guess I wilk continue looking, I heard a startup in my area was looking for engineers. I have been looking to get into one for a while. I don't care much about the money right now to be honest, and it seems I could gain a lot of experience there.

Yeah I will tell my boss what I want. I know that they don't do much programming but if they find a way to still keep me learning and programming, everything is alright.
posted by Braxis at 7:20 AM on February 10, 2019

Dude, you're going back to school for an MS in 18 months. You're not going to "ruin your career" by staying in this job until then. You'll prove you can... stay in a job, which leaving your previous post after nine months does not.

You career starts after your MS. Relax.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:20 AM on February 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

I know what it's like to be gunshy about a new job. I had a really toxic job several years ago that it took me a couple of years to get over, and part of my reaction was to distrust each new opportunity. I had the same reaction to $currentJob initially, but I hung in, and now I'm glad I did. Therapy can help!

The automation project sounds like a potential winner. Unless something else takes a drastic turn for the worse, hang tight, keep the resume/LinkedIn polished, and learn what you can in $currentJob until you start your degree program.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:55 AM on February 10, 2019

Best answer: Wait, you're going to grad school in 18 months? Sorry, just seeing that. The absolute best thing you can do for yourself in that case is to stick it out in this ehh-good-enough job until you start school again.

DarlingBri is spot on. Your career hasn't even started yet! This isn't even your first real job, that happens after you finish your MS. When you are writing your resume for future, real jobs, you want it to show that you can stick to a job and get along. You do not want it to show that you have a history of taking jobs and then dumping them right away. It's different if you're fishing for better jobs and working your way up, but that's not what you are doing right now.

What you are doing right now is paying dues, supporting yourself, and establishing that you are a reliable worker who future employers won't immediately regret hiring. Your skills won't stagnate—when you go into that MS program you'll have ample opportunity to sharpen them, and you'll be fresh and better than ever when you get out and look to start your career. That won't be a problem, trust me.

Put in your time. Show that you can do it. Your job doesn't sound awful, your duties just aren't what you would prefer, but that will take care of itself because you are going to go back to school and then you'll be able to start over with a brand new set of qualifications. You're not going to get pigeonholed into a process management role or whatever, you'll be a fresh candidate after you get that MS.

And frankly, it sounds like you're learning a lot about some of the bigger-picture aspects of software development. You're learning about how projects are run and what goes into making them run successfully. That will be immensely valuable to you in the future, which I can say from experience. I've done some of that kind of stuff in my own field (construction) and while I didn't love it and am glad I'm doing more field-oriented, technical work nowadays, it has been invaluable to be able to see how my little piece of things fits into the puzzle and to be able to speak the language of project management and find ways to make my work better support the rest of the team. Employers and supervisors like that, I like that, and it makes me better at my core job as well. What you're learning now are things they don't generally teach in school, but they are so fucking useful and I promise you'll draw on this experience again and again throughout your career. Don't underestimate the value of this opportunity. If you want to someday be in the room where decisions are made and have a say in how projects are structured and run instead of having to just do what you're told, the stuff you're learning about now is the language you'll want to be able to speak.

And sooner, when your career is still just getting going, the most important thing you can have on your resume besides your educational qualifications will be some evidence that you can stick to a task and be reliable. You haven't shown that yet. Now's the time.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:36 AM on February 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

What are the options for doing more interesting stuff where you are? are there training options? Mine your current employers resources.

Use some time to network. Make as many contacts as you can; the people you meet wil keep turning up at other companies. Maybe start a group at work to learn some new skills, which would demonstrate your interest, initiative and leadership, and you'd learn stuff and make contacts.
posted by theora55 at 9:53 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm also in tech, and have been for the past 25+ years. I can tell you this: if you had a previous role that was nine months, unless your current role is totally toxic, you should try to stay there for a year. Too many short-term roles make employers ask some questions about your ability to go the distance. Two longer-term roles in succession (your 9-month one, and this one) will just look like "project-based roles" when hiring managers skim your resume, and you'll have fewer people who will set your aside as not looking "steady" enough.

That gives you a year - with income - to network, beef up your portfolio, do a side project that leverages your programming, maybe take a class or two, and build up your savings. As long as you show that you kept learning, and in a way that enhances your programming skills, many employers will not see "he wasn't programming for a year, keep looking." They'll see "takes initiative to keep learning, can stay put and finish a job" and will put your resume in the "interview-finalist" pile.

Make lists of what you want in your next job, so that you're running TO a goal rather than running AWAY from something you don't like. Take time to target a few companies, go on interviews, and network network network. (Look in your area for programmer-centric Meetup groups.) Start jobhunting in September, for a job that will start in January or February 2020.
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Fyi very few early career jobs involve you actually and regularly using the skills you picked up in your degree. You generally have to prove yourself first, and it's frustrating for managers when graduates think they are too good for the work (someone has to do it, you are usually the least paid, least proven person in the room...).

I love your ambition and ideas for improvement, but a key skill in any job is the ability to stick things out; being able to do boring work, along with the exciting stuff; working out to how to achieve your role and also the extra stuff.

You may find your experiences around this role actually are very helpful across your whole career.
posted by smoke at 12:16 PM on February 10, 2019

Response by poster: What are the options for doing more interesting stuff where you are? are there training options? Mine your current employers resources.

Use some time to network. Make as many contacts as you can; the people you meet wil keep turning up at other companies. Maybe start a group at work to learn some new skills, which would demonstrate your interest, initiative and leadership, and you'd learn stuff and make contacts.

Well they offer a lot of trainings in a lot of stuff. Lean six sigma, which honestly sounds like an industrial engineer thing, is one of them. They also offer to pay certifications outside of your normal job if they are deemed useful, so that's nice and they have a lot of leadership courses they encourage people to take. They're always looking for continuous improvement. I am a big fan of automation, and I think it's the area I want to specialize in along with artificial intelligence.

I think I'm stressing out too much however, I have been sick lately and have been exercising excessively its not making me think clearly. Perhaps I'm being too hard on myself.
posted by Braxis at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

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