My formal training was generic (Systems, Dev, Project Management) - no particular expertise, just "good enough" to start and learn on the job.

I started off as an ops guy in a small company for about two years: very small team, wide array of clients. I got to do some programming, be it small modifications for clients or writing a new tool for the team to use.

Job ended, but I could afford to take the necessary time to re-orient my career.

Fast forward almost a year, I got on hired on a 3-month "Java/Angular Fullstack" crash course (aimed at people radically switching fields) after which a company (let's call it A) was to extend offers to the trainees.


First day with all the new hires in a room (company A), a list of our names and postings: DevOps. I went to see the higher-ups the second day, and the situation was eventually corrected. Got to work on a small in-house project, which was great.

Right when the in-house project ended, another company (let's call it B) contacted my company and extended an offer, as company A had already shown them my profile.

Wonderful! Except the position was part ops. The offer was extended to me directly, and my response was expected later the same day.

My manager's (comp. A) stance on it was: "It's great, and otherwise you don't really know what fate awaits you once your profile is out there for all managers to see".

Current Situation

Fast forward a few months: So far I have worked (at company B) a grand total of 15 days actually doing something related to software. The rest has been deployment, testing and documentation of other components. Dev/Ops ratio is the inverse of what was advertised.

I found out recently that a piece of software I was told I'd work on had actually been scheduled for decommissioning before I took the job.


Was Ops, wanted to be Dev. Did what I thought was necessary, had one nice little project. Got baited / forced into mostly Ops again. Am currently ever-so-slightly irritated.

The question(s?), at last

  1. What steps can I take to salvage the current situation and (hopefully) get a healthier work distribution at company B?
  2. How (if at all) should I address this situation with my current manager (at company A)?
  3. Faced with similar "offers" in the future, how do I "play ball" while still preserving my own interests?

Thank you for making it through this wall of text, I look forward to reading your advice!

  • 3
    This is awfully long Wannabe, could you cut out some details maybe, like much of the context? The point of being pulled back into your previous job role when trying to switch directions is a lot more general than your specific situation..
    – user90842
    Feb 9, 2019 at 1:05
  • 1
    Thanks for your feedback! I axed most of the context - what do you think?
    – WannabeDev
    Feb 9, 2019 at 8:43

3 Answers 3

  1. What steps can I take to salvage the current situation and (hopefully) get a healthier work distribution at company B?

Remind them frequently that you were hired as a developer. Look on your own for little projects you can do that will use those skills - improve one of their tools, fix up something, anything that's not just ops. And then don't just go ahead and do it, talk it up to their manager and see if they're OK with you taking time to do that. But don't blame them because most likely they barely noticed the dev skills in the midst of the ops stuff they needed, and which they were sold on.

  1. How (if at all) should I address this situation with my current manager (at company A)?

Realize that this manager is your main problem. I agree with Fattie, most likely company A is what you will have to leave in the end. Unless you can maneuver yourself under another manager who'd appreciate your dev skills, but good luck with that, they basically have no incentive.

  1. Faced with similar "offers" in the future, how do I "play ball" while still preserving my own interests?

You only take a full-time dev position. And don't be too discouraged, while company A might have a lot more use for you in ops, other companies might be well pleased to get you as a dev. Try not to let your skills get too rusty while you detangle yourself from this current mess though

  • @WannabeDev anticipate your managers may express sympathy and make it sound like they will change the situation, but not really deliver for you. Might not be their choice, just the reality. In this answer I really like the comment "they basically have no incentive" -- this is real. Oct 22, 2021 at 13:14

Aspect 1: "you got robbed"

Let's take it as a given that you were to some extent "ripped off". You were hoping for programming but it turned out to be support.

What can you do about this?

  1. Unfortunately you just have no come-back on this. You can't, say, sue them for money. You can't reverse time. Unfortunately it's the old saying, all you can do is learn from it. There's no use crying over spilt milk.

Aspect 2: "what to do from today forward"

  1. Face the fact that you will probably have to change jobs. Start looking aggressively on Monday.

  2. When you're leaving somewhere, you can play hardball. From tomorrow, just tell them politely "Sorry, I won't do that, my position is programmer." What can they do - sack you? You're leaving anyway.

Hence your 1/2/3,

What steps can I take to salvage the current situation...

Realistically none. Aggressively look for a new job. Write-off the mistake. Don't cry over spilt milk.

How (if at all) should I address this situation with my current (new) manager (from the company that leases me to the client)?

Since you're leaving anyway, play total hardball. Just politely state (I mean, to the party that pays you - your actual employer) you only do programming. If they fire you, take the money and leave.

Faced with similar "offers" in the future...

Next job, be much more clear you're there to program only.

  • Thanks for weighing in! I think I should have make something clearer (will edit right after this comment). I am hired as a subcontractor (if that is the proper term). I work for company A, who in turn bills company B for my services. So I have a "client/manager" at B, and a manager at A (who is is charge of several me's). So the second question was meant as talking to my "real" manager at my home company. I need to work on my writing skills.
    – WannabeDev
    Feb 9, 2019 at 12:16
  • Your writing skills are fine. I understood perfectly. Notice the small edit I made. By "manager" I mean only the person who pays you. The other one is simply "a client". And good luck!
    – Fattie
    Feb 9, 2019 at 12:21
  • I have a feeling that a more "subtle" approach might work, given as the manager and the client advertise themselves as "open and understanding". How would you go about it?
    – WannabeDev
    Feb 10, 2019 at 11:17
  • 1
    I would wait till you have accepted an offer elsewhere before you give any ultimatum to either your real manager or the contracting company..
    – user90842
    Feb 11, 2019 at 18:06

I am in a similar situation.

I work for company X and I am borrowed to company Y. The project I work for has no deadline, so I will work there for almost "ever". The daily work is not was I want to do.

My strategy is to talk to my manager of company X and explain what my aims are (which work I want to do), so he can act and get a more fitting job for me. (I am happy in company X for most time, only the new project on company Y is nothing for me.) I will bring some appropriate job offers to this meeting, so we both know about what we talk.

If he say, he can do nothing for one or another reason, or if he say but do not do, I will search for a new job myself.

The meeting is this week (regular yearly appraisal), wish me luck, I wish it to you.

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