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I recently started my first out of college programming job. I made the mistake of not asking enough questions during the interview process for my new job, and I also did not evaluate the culture well enough. I felt a bit "forced" to get out of the house as it had been a month since graduation and I didn't have a job, so I took it.

My job is with what you could call a consulting firm. I have never met any of them in person, and I work with the client daily. The pay is great for a recent grad, and the benefits I can opt for are great also. My issue is the culture. I do not feel like I belong to either my employing company, or the client's company. I do not receive the same benefits as my coworkers (anything from paid overtime to perks to actual benefits) and on top of this I just don't feel like I belong. I am the only contractor on a relatively large team (20-30) and it really wears me down that I am expected to do the same amount of work and get paid less / no overtime / etc. In addition to this, I've picked up on a relatively condescending tone with the client regarding me being not actually being a team member.

Realizing that I've made a mistake, I want to correct it ASAP. I am unhappy and I'm sure my quality of work is suffering. I have been at this company for a little over a month now, and I'd like to take my leave as gracefully as possible. I want to stress that this is entirely my fault, and I place no blame with our client or my company. I was simply not wise enough to look into the culture enough, and now I need to recover as best I can.

So my questions are:

  • What do you suggest is the best way to part ways? I do not want to be offensive or create bad blood, but I am terrified of that being unavoidable as I have only been here around a month, and obviously wasted the company's time.

  • Will this be something that prevents me from getting a job? I have a couple very strong internships, but this is my first real deal job and I'm very afraid that only having it listed as a two or so month ordeal will bar me from any future employer's trust.

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marked as duplicate by ReallyTiredOfThisGame, CMW, Monica Cellio, Jim G., enderland Mar 24 at 19:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Is there no chance that you can right the ship and try and culturally adjust to fit better? A lot of companies start most people out as contractors because it is easier to let them go when it's over if they don't work out. Try and make the best of the situation until the contract expires, if you can. Being with a company for a couple months looks very bad for you. You will be asked why etc and then companies assume you will do it to them as well. –  PaulDonny Mar 20 at 11:56
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@JoeStrazzere it's not about the pay at this early stage in his career, more about losing better opportunities. –  Spidey Mar 20 at 16:14
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@Gary You said the pay is great for a recent graduate. Then why is it such a big deal that you aren't being paid overtime? It's your first job. You don't have to stay there forever. How do you enjoy the actual work? –  Benjamin Hubbard Mar 20 at 17:01

12 Answers 12

It sounds like much of your unhappiness is with the client company. You could ask for a different assignment, but don't hold your breath. I've tried to obtain a different assignment while in your position, but your employer won't want to put you in a different position without being able to simultaneously back-filling your spot with your current client.

Your situation is actually far better than when you took this job. Currently:

  • You are being paid, and paid well.
  • You are gaining technical skills and real world experience.
  • You have the ability to wait for the right job.

So re-open your job search, either immediately, or in a few months, depending on what you can tolerate. When you are asked about why you are looking so soon, just say: "I'm in a consulting role right now, but it isn't a good fit for me in the long term." Employers understand that consulting jobs involve less long-term commitment, even if you are a FTE of the contracting firm.

In the meantime, do your best to learn and contribute all you can to your current team. Don't do heroic hours, but give a complete effort every day, and keep some hobby projects going to expand your skills.

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@Kiwy I'm not saying salary is more important than work enjoyment, just that employed is better than unemployed. And it is healthy to recognize that the jobs you work as an adult will not always be as enjoyable as that summer job a few years ago. –  Eric Wilson Mar 20 at 12:39
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+1 for "re-open your job search." Unless your job is causing you actual harm (emotional distress or what-have-you), you should stick with it in the meantime. Resigning one month in doesn't look good, and to top it off, unless you find a different job, you'll be unemployed! –  2rs2ts Mar 20 at 12:41

As a fellow programmer, I completely understand how you feel. I have worked for several companies and have discovered that culture matters. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • If you got an issue free programming job right out of school, you are lucky.
  • The interview will rarely reveal a companies true culture.
  • ALWAYS keep updating your resume and keep your options open.
  • Job search while you still have a job.
  • Don't let go until you have something else to grab onto.
  • If possible, always stay at a position for at least 6 months.
  • You will start on the bottom rung. Work your way up.
  • You will have people looking down on you. It was the same for them earlier.
  • Dealing with negative office culture is a skill that takes years to learn.
  • You may find that the problem goes away in a month if you just accept it.
  • Buy the office pizza/donuts. Best $20 you can spend.
  • Talk to everyone and ask to go to lunch with them. Be a friend.
  • Business is about relationships, not just code.
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+1 for the donuts. Show your coworkers that you care about them ... and you might start to care about them. –  Eric Wilson Mar 20 at 14:07
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More than donuts, going to lunch with your coworkers is the best way I can think of to build relationships. A phrase I hear at my company, which I think they stole from Microsoft is: "Never eat lunch alone." - Google the phrase if you want to know more about the why. –  BinaryTox1n Mar 20 at 17:33
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@BinaryTox1n never eat alone by Keith Ferrazzi is a book title. –  Spehro Pefhany Mar 21 at 2:39
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programming job right out of school is lucky? Every single person I graduated with had a job when we graduated, this comment sounds like "be happy with anything". The problem goes away if you accept it? Again, sounds like you say the OP should just deal with it. I have real issues with these two points but the rest all sounds great. –  Paul Brown Mar 21 at 12:12

This is a situation I'm very familiar with, so I'll answer your question by suggesting you do what I did.

Quick background:

I also started right out of college on a client site. I didn't know the culture, and within a month of starting, I also regretted my decision with every ounce of my body. I didn't get overtime, wasn't getting paid as well as everyone else, was working ridiculous hours to the point where I didn't have a single weekend for a whole month and worked on average 80 hours a week. I had nightmares about the job and once even cried because I realized I had barely seen or spoke to my family or my significant other in almost 2 months due to the hours.

My Solution

It wasn't easy, but I stuck around for a little bit. After 6 months, I began searching for jobs on the down-low. I was hired at another company, and set my starting date to almost exactly a year after I began my first job (This setting of the start date happened literally yesterday, by the way). One year at your first job doesn't look terrible, and you can always state reasons such as you found a better opportunity, you wanted to change location, etc.

By the end of this year, things have slowly changed, people started accepting me more, I've expressed my problems to the manager and she has actually made changes to the way things are being done. In the end (As in, the end of this month), I'll move on to the other job, thank everyone for the opportunity, I'll lie and say I had a great year, and that's it.

The experience you're getting now will help you later on, and sometimes it's worth the sacrifice.

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I'm a software developer too. I've worked contract jobs and I've worked in-house jobs, so I think I know where you're coming from.

One: I would be very, very reluctant to leave a job after less than a year. I have been involved in hiring people now and then, and I can tell you, when I look at a resume and see that a person spent 1 month at his first job, 6 months at his second job, 3 months at his third job, and now he's applying here, I say: I don't know whether this guy gets fired or he gets bored and quits, but either way, if we hire him, before he's learned enough about what we're doing to be a truly productive and contributing member of the team, he's going to be gone. Why waste time on him when we're just going to be hiring someone else in a few months?

If you had several jobs on your resume where you stuck around for several years, and then one where you were there for a month and quit, and then another where you were there for several years, at the next interview they'd likely say, Okay, he realized he made a mistake on that one or there was a problem. But you don't want to quit your first job in less than 1 year, minimum. Unless they are literally demanding that you do something illegal or immoral.

Two: The first couple of months on a new job are often tough. Nobody knows you so no matter how good you are, you get little respect and your opinion carries no weight. Everything is new and strange. You don't have any friends there. Etc. I'd strongly encourage you to stick it out. Often things get better after a while. Every time I take a new job I find myself thinking this was a big mistake, but if I keep plugging away at it, it almost always gets better.

Three: As ChrisLively says, don't compare your income to other people's. Many companies have policies against employees discussing salary, and frankly for very good reason: As my boss at my very first job once said to me: If two people discuss their salaries, whoever is making less will be unhappy.

A lot goes in to how much someone is paid. If you're fresh out of school, even if you're an absolute genius, no one knows that you're a genius because you haven't had a chance to prove yourself yet. Be patient while you build a reputation and experience. Some people make more money just because they're better at negotiating. I've seen statistics that say married men make more than single men. Probably party because married men tend to be older. But I bet also partly because married men need more money to support a family, and so they demand more in salary negotiations, they are willing to take jobs that may be undesirable in other ways but that pay more money, etc. The boss's son probably makes more money than others with similar qualifications. Etc. Some of the reasons why others make more than you may seem perfectly fair and reasonable to you, others not. You have four basic choices: (a) Whine about how unfair the world is. (b) Drop out and become a hermit. (c) Accept the unfairness and make the best of it. (d) Figure out how to work the system so YOU'RE the one getting the unfair advantages. (a) and (b) are pretty useless. I suggest you go for either (c) or (d). (I'm most a (c) person myself.)

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I do not recieve the same benefits as my coworkers (anything from paid overtime to perks to actual benefits) and on top of this I just don't feel like I belong. I am the only contractor on a relatively large team (20-30) and it really wears me down that I am expected to do the same amount of work and get paid less / no overtime / etc.

The above sounds to me like you've been talking salary etc with people at the client company. This is generally considered a huge no no. The primary reason of which is that at least one of the people involved in the conversation (usually all of them) will come away from it unhappy no matter what everyone is being paid. Never mind the fact that a lot of people won't exactly be truthful with what they are making anyway.

As you are starting out, one thing you need to learn is that your salary has nothing at all to do with what others are paid. Even if you have the exact same qualifications and exact same tasks to perform. The only time this isn't necessarily true is if you are unionized, but that's a completely different set of issues.

Your pay, benefits, etc is between you and the company that actually signs the check. Generally speaking the time to negotiate salary is prior to accepting an offer or at your review. Being unhappy about salary when you are only a month in implies that you've simply changed your mind.

Regarding overtime, the amount of unpaid overtime you get is a function of how well you stand up for yourself. If you just "yes sir, I'll work all night sir." then it will not get any better.

Honestly I'd call my parent company and tell them that overtime ends unless I'm properly paid for it. It's up to them to work out the issues here. Of course, I"m at a radically different point in my life where I can make such demands and find another job in a day if it doesn't work out. So you might have that conversation in a less confrontational way... ;) Again, not with your on site supervisor rather have it with the company writing your check.

In addition to this, I've picked up on a realtively condescending tone with the client regarding me being not actually being a team member.

This is hard to explain. Contractors are almost always treated differently than regular employees. Especially ones that are provided by an outside company with whom the client has an agreement not to hire those people for a period of time. If you are the only contractor on this team then the client likely agreed to bring you in on a trial basis to see whether it was a good idea to outsource more of the team members. And no, you won't be told this.

Other team members might resent that you are there simply because of what you represent: a potential loss of their job if things go well enough. Others might not like you because you are a very junior dev making what they believe to be the "big bucks" -even if you did tell them what you make they probably don't really believe you. I hope you didn't, this could cause issues for your parent company and certainly could impact whether the contract is renewed.

Immediate management might have a tepid attitude towards you simply because you represent a shift in how things are going to be done. For all I know you were foisted upon your team lead by his boss.


These are all very real social interaction issues based upon your position and experience. Ultimately I think that maybe being a contractor isn't the right path for you at the moment. You should consider going somewhere where you are a regular full time employee.

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I would add that if they get overtime and he does not, it may be likely their base salrly is much lower than his. Generally only the very lowest paid are even eligible for overtime in this profession as the regulations in the US state an exact amount you must make that makes overtime required to be paid and it is not a high amount for this profession (dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/fs17e_computer.htm). Since most companies won't pay overtime unless the law requires it... –  HLGEM Mar 20 at 20:48

As a new graduate, it would look very bad to possible employers to stay at your first job for less than a year. Stick with it. No place is perfect and all of the problems you described are in your own attitude. You need to learn to adjust to the real world and you don't do that by running away if everything doesn't suit you. Everything will not suit you at every job. All of them have their minuses. If you do a good job, the company you are contracting for will likely come around. Right now at one month in, you are a liabilty not an asset. So stop being a liability and learn to be an asset. That is part of what your first job is for - learning how to successfully navigate the workplace.

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@HLGEM Not every job has an expectation of overtime hours. In fact, many developers consider an expectation of regular extra hours to be a symptom of deeper organizational issues. –  Eric Wilson Mar 20 at 15:28
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@EricWilson, while that is true, if you are somewhere as the poster is where overtime is expected, the chances are vrirtually zero that you will get paid for it, so it is pointless to whine about that. And there is a big difference in what an experienced dev can expect in the workplace vice someone in his first job. The kinds of jobs that are with the best organizations are few and far between and you have to have something other than beginner skills to get most of them. He needs to learn to deal with reality not run away or whine. –  HLGEM Mar 20 at 15:38
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@HLGEM You appear completely unwilling to consider whether you may be wrong, or whether you may be communicating in a way that is not helpful. If you have seen everything, you have seen mean-spirited arrogance, and you know that it rarely helps anyone. –  Eric Wilson Mar 20 at 17:52
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His contract is his contract, whatever anyone else gets is not that relevant to what he has agreed to. That works against him now, in the future with more experience it will be the other way round. @HLGEM has a point. A contractor and a graduate WILL be treated differently, you need to earn respect not expect it. The OP seems to have a lot to learn. –  JamesRyan Mar 20 at 18:10

Perhaps this has changed since the world became more connected, but one option people have used for very short "mistakes" is to drop them from their resume completely.

Now, for this specific situation, I agree with the other answers here--I think the original poster simply doesn't understand what the job world is like yet, and that every job is going to have aspects like those described.

Other employers are going to want to know why you left a position, and the OP's reasons here sound whiny (not meaning to be cruel or anything--but you need frank advice when it comes to job searching, and that is pretty much an honest assessment).

So, in my opinion, this poster should stick it out (while also looking for the next thing, in the meantime--you should always, at some level, be looking). However, for the sake a hypothetical future reader of this question, there is another option to consider. If you really get a job where you think "this was a mistake" and you make a change as a result, you don't necessarily have to list that on your resume. This is especially true if you have a lot of other experience on the resume already--a small fraction of unaccounted-for time is not as big of a deal.

You should be prepared for questions about gaps, but a short gap is not generally that big of a deal. For a developer, you can keep a couple of open source projects going, and if anyone asks you what you were doing during that time you can honestly say you spent some time working on X project while looking for a suitable position.

If you were contracting during the time, even better. If someone asks about the gap you say "I did a little contracting but nothing substantial enough that I felt it worth adding."

Everything you say should be true. No one, generally speaking, is completely open about their negotiating position. They don't want to tell you how desperate they are, how bad the current code is, that they would really be willing to pay you 10,000 more than they are offering if you asked for it, etc. Likewise, you don't tell them that you would actually do the job for 10,000 less because you really need it. A single position you feel was a mistake to take, when you were only there for one to three months, is a fair thing to omit, in my opinion.

Even better if the position was misrepresented to you or management or coworkers were egregiously bad. In that case, if you omit it, and then if someone finds out or whatever and wants you to explain, you just lay it out there and say that your experience with the company was so negative that you didn't want to talk to other companies about them because your perspective was skewed by the unfortunate experiences you had with bad actors who may or may not still be employed there. Again--say only true things.

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I am a 4th year IT student (I'll graduate this year) and I started working 2 months ago. At the beginning, it was just like you mentioned - it seemed like you don't belong with your co-workers. It will vanish as you start to know each other. Organization isn't paying nearly as much as to the older employees, but at least I can count this to my job experience and I am happy to have such a chance - to work even before the graduation and slowly fill up my CV.

Basically what I'm trying to say is - don't leave - you'll probably regret that. I mean - not all organizations are in awe of a freshly graduated meat. They want it seasoned, they want some job experience, so I'd suggest you to keep working until you are ready to walk away and really choose between workplaces ;)

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overtime

From your post it looks like you are forced to work overtime and not get paid for it. It's normally a red light, but everything depends on your country's laws and the form of employement (contractor vs. employee). Employees are generally better protected, overtime normally must be extra paid. Many (if not most) countries set also hard limits on how much overtime may be required. In Germany, for example, your manager can have huge problems if you'll stay more than 10 hours in workplace at single day (pause excluded).

Contractors are generally less protected, and all depends on your contracts. If you are paid for "days", and the day is not defined, well, in worst case you may be even required to sit 14 hours until you finish your "daily" assignment, unless your country laws doesn't forbid that as misuse (I've heard such "days" are normal in Switzerland). I was working on "dayly" or "hourly" basis, but in first case "day" was always defined as 8 hours. You should be more carefull signing next contract

salary

At first you write you have attractive salary, then you write you're unhappy with it, you must decide. In many countries (if not in most) younglings are getting low salaries. My first salary in Poland was really shameless low, but at least I could gather experience and then require more, as most of young people in Poland.

leaving

Leaving so soon is really a bad idea. It will be a red light for other companies, and you may find something worse as well as better. When you get more experience, you're more likely to get more satisfying work. So it's better to safer 1,5 year in single company than 1,5 year in 4 different... Unless it's really bad (sitting over 10 hours, being mobbed etc.), you can't expect too much from the first job. For most people it's below their expectations.

belonging

A huge issue for contractors/consultants. Technically you don't belogn to client's company, and your bounds with your company are very loose. For some clients you will always be a stranger, but it doesn't prevent you from being handled equally by team members. On the other hand, even "belonging" to company doesn't prevent you from being bullied, or socially isolated. But normal, healthy interpersonal relations in company should never differ between external consultants and "interns", or seniors and juniors, or new and old workers. Of course, old workers would always know themselves better etc., but being isolated is a red light, no matter who you are in the team.

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My suggestion is that you need to start getting used to working in "less than ideal" places because you are surely going to encounter this again later in your career, possibly a lot. You are a programmer? You will definitely encounter projects/team/work environments that give you stress, have difficult people to work with, and so forth. Hang out at this gig until it finishes or until you complete a year, then move on. (Why "a year"? This is basically the standard here in Silicon Valley, especially at startups, where you aren't really going to be frowned upon if you quit after a year.)

That said, the fact that you are a contractor does give you leeway in quitting and moving on. People are more understanding and forgiving of this, particularly if you use the excuse that you have found a job with benefits and paid vacations.

so, to answer your question: the best way to leave is what I have suggested: tell them you're looking for a full time job with benefits. This will ensure there's no bad blood between you.

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I would not resign after a month unless the situation is exceptionally bad. Not because I would be worried about what a one month stint looked like on my resume but from a maturity perspective.

You don't become mature by leaving when situations become difficult. When you stick out difficult situations you build character and often times you realize that what you felt was a bad situation really wasn't as bad as you had thought. Every job you will ever have will have good and bad parts.

I would look at this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

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I face the same situation, we are young we just get graduated and so far I have asked several person and there no problem in making mistake and trying to correct them as soon as possible and not fall in a routine and a job you don't really like.

Being able to explain why you made the wrong choice and what you're now looking for can even be an asset during a future job interview.

You shouldn't consider a resignation as a problem if you're able to justify your choices to the future company. Also you should know that if there a test period where both employe and employer can say stop it's exactly for the reasons you mention and there's no problem using this right.

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