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Tl;dr: moved countries for my first full time job in hope of a better paycheck and interesting software dev work. Work is nearly nonexistent (read: every day is 1.5h work and 6.5h just sitting there), and mostly pure routine, but have to do certain hours per month. Get paid a ton in terms of home country but in here it isn't really a lot. Forced to go to work in a suit and not allowed to do own stuff at work including music while working. Doubting whether it's a good idea to return back for a lesser pay but lesser expenses and more comfortable work and life balance. If so, how to do it in a way that would keep a return path just in case.

end of tl;dr, warning, long rant ahead

This might be a long one but I'm totally lost at what should I do in the situation.

Roughly 7 months ago I moved to Japan for a software development position at a not really big company. They were and are still very helpful with the relocation and all things related including paperwork, handling monthly bills and so on.

It is worth pointing out that this is my first "proper" full-time job with going to an office and all the usual things. Previously I'd work remote most of the time, and the expenses of living in Russia allowed me to sometimes rest for a month or two after finishing a project.

However, it was then that it turned out I will not be working at that actual company - instead, the employees are being "re-sold" to other companies. The contract with the partner company (the one I actually have to go work at) involves a minimum of 150 hours per month of which I was not informed during the interview.

The final interview involved the management of the office I will be working at. I pulled off a presentation showing my previous personal and work projects, everyone was sounding amused ("ooh, he understands assembly!") and even applauded at the end of it. During the self-introduction meeting with the management the team leader introduced me by the words of "genius programmer" which made me feel really out of place.

When actual work started, not counting the fact I had to just sit through 2 days at work while waiting for my PC to arrive, there was pretty much silence. I didn't get tasks assigned and just sat at the desk, went to meetings, just to hit the hour limit. Luckily, soon enough there were tasks coming in and it wasn't too bad. We had code reviews and proper version control and while the code base wasn't perfect, it was bearable enough for the most part, even fun at times when it wasn't about overtime meetings. Pretty much neither me nor my management were getting any complaint about my work. Until one time, when the head of company asked my direct manager about "why does he never overtime?", which they told me not to really care about though.

Overall it wasn't maybe the best work ever, but it was good enough. The documentation was mostly handed off to other people on the team, probably because the team lead understood that I code better than write, and that it was standard practice at my previous positions. I would just leave comments in the code and explain anything if asked to.

But then I was moved to a different project by the management of the company (not the direct employer) due to internal management reasons.

Now, the different project is also at a different office. The previous one was located within an even bigger company by contract, while this one is on the premises of the company renting me from my employer.

At first, I had to sit through 2 days doing nothing yet again. First day my PC didn't come in yet. Second day, it arrived, but nobody knew the password. Contrary to a relatively fresh Optiplex at the previous location, at here it's an old laptop which struggles with Excel and a 10 year old Macbook which struggles a bit less, but still takes 7 minutes to build a project in IntelliJ.

When I went ahead to set up my environment, I was stopped by my new team lead, because apparently there is a white-list of allowed software. So doing my own side things during periods of complete silence is now fully out of question. Also I'm not allowed to bring my own mouse (due to hand health problems) and keyboard.

After that, it all really started building up. The desk being so small I need to bend down to even type, the chair not really giving any support to my back, the usual office equipment problems.

One of the episodes that really set it off for me was when I had a task to reconstruct the build environment for a project. The team lead, trying to be helpful, called the previous person in charge for the project but stated they will come about 1.5h after the workday ends. Well, I don't overtime usually, so I stayed until they come, and all they did was "uhhhh well I had this error but I don't remember how I fixed it" and then do various small talk with employees still in office while I fought the build scripts. Needless to say I left work at about 9PM with no result, came in next morning and in 10 minutes it was all fixed and working properly (someone changed a library name but left the old one in the error message -- just to show a glimpse of how horrendous the code base is).

The code is just a spaghetti mess with tests being a list of things to manually check with the debugger or cURL written in Excel. Throughout the last month I've probably spent more time "programming" in Word and Excel than actual IDEs.

In that background I've started to actually miss my previous positions. Yes, my paycheck was smaller, but so were the expenses. Plus I could use my headphones while working, work from home if I wanted to, or come at 12PM and leave at 11PM if I felt like so, as long as the work is done right. I could get some time for my own projects and research without sacrificing sleep or vice versa.

Not like the tiny room I was put into (14 sq.m. including bathroom, I was presented with other variants before moving, but all my choices were dismissed as "too old", "too expensive" or "poorly located") allows for much personal projects and research anyway.

My direct employer is desperately trying to keep me at the position -- or at least trying to make it look so -- trying to raise my pay and saying they're searching for more interesting work. But with all the above and combined with the stress of being far from friends and family, up to the point it's taking a toll on my health, both mental and physical, I'm totally not sure if I should even try to force myself into staying here anymore.

What would be the best idea to do in the case? Try negotiating with the employer for something? Flee back home ASAP and cut my losses? If so, probably doing it in a way which will leave a return path of some sort just in case?

I'm totally lost at what to do so I'd like to hear your opinions on what could probably the best thing to do. While typing that out I've been declining more and more to leaving, but assuming that the problem is in me and not in the work, maybe due to the fact of it being my first full-time, I would like to find the most professional way of escaping the situation I half-deliberately buried myself into.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Philip Kendall, solarflare, jcmack, JohnHC May 15 at 8:19

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or for more specific details about one element of the decision. (More information)" – gnat, Philip Kendall, solarflare, JohnHC
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Can you please include a tl;dr section wit a goal that can be addressed? – solarflare May 15 at 3:07
  • @solarflare added one at the top to hopefully clear things up – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 3:37
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    There's better companies to work at in Japan than wherever you are. Get in touch with agencies like Skillhouse, etc. and see if they can find you something better. – John May 15 at 9:01
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From what I can summarize:

The Positives of this job are:

  • Good paycheck
  • Recognition from Co-workers ("Genius Programmer")

The Negatives of this job are:

  • Horrendous Codebase
  • Restrictive Software Options
  • No music
  • No freedom for work scheduling
  • Expectation for Overtime work
  • Not very helpful Co-workers
  • Tiny office workspace
  • Far from friends and family

Leave

In my opinion, unless you have some sort of financial obligation (i.e Debt, Mortgage) or contractual agreement (i.e 1 year work contract).

I would leave, If I was in this situation.

As I think your workplace satisfaction is an important factor. If you work in this company, you will sacrifice your freedom and your relationship with friends and family, but for a great paycheck.

But if you value your freedom and relationships, why stick around if both your previous job and your current job could pay your expenses well.

Counter Point

However, a counter point might be, If you would do this "One Big Job" and retire, then I would suggest not leaving.

If this job pays well, you might build your wealth quicker, and hence retire earlier.

  • The recognition thing merely ended after being moved to a different office. The team at the new place is surprised at how fast I fix things sometimes but this is it. Not like I'm really genius and want to be treated as such anyway. – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 4:46
  • Expectation for overtime is a point of the whole country's work culture, though. But then again here I am overtiming for an hour daily just because I was sick one day at the beginning of the month and need to get my hours back up to the norm (all tasks are a bit ahead of schedule even if I weren't doing that, hence i'm on stackexchange and exelab all day). – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 4:47
  • In fact I think the new job isn't really compensating well enough. With the amount of stress I got an addiction to arcade and video games. Provided, I was able to turn it over for my own good by buying the innards of arcade machine and cracking the software to make it run outside of a licensed arcade, learning a lot on the way... but can we even compare money vs. mental stability at all? – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 4:49
  • All in all thanks for summarizing everything into a nice list. I think saving up for some more time and leaving is a good idea now. At least need to save up for the move back. And if during that time some change for the better happens, it doesn't hurt anyway! Thanks for your reply! – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 4:52
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    @VladislavKorotnev It's good that you have something to hang onto in a tough time,it helps you to get through. Good luck man. – noobtubesnoop May 15 at 5:51
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If you do a search on the net (this site included), you will see that it will be hard to find a company with a software which is not ugly. So if you leave from this job, you will find another, most likely with bad software also.

They (the company and the colleagues) do not create problems for you. Another plus.

The Japanese culture is radically different from yours - if your name is really Vladislav Korotnev (or anything else similar). You have a great opportunity to learn about it. You will be surprised to understand that "your" way is not the only way.

Salary is better.

Considering that you are a "beginner", you should remain with your current employer as much as possible, until you have nothing more to learn. Or until you get a much better job offer.

From my experience: it is not always the best choice to run away when there are problems. Let alone to run away when there are NO problems, but only inconveniences.

Think about it: people usually complain about too much work and too little pay. You complain about the opposite: too little work and good pay.

The bottom line I suggest: don't run away. Find your way.

  • There are many stages to how ugly software can be, but as long as it's well-designed and well-maintained it will be perfectly readable and supportable. That is how it shown to be on most previous positions. Even on the project before the office change -- it was fairly decent, with exceptions of some parts. Luckily I got in when a full rewrite was planned, so it was easy to push in proper documentation practices (doxygen) and architecture design, and the reputational support from the team was a great help in that. – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 5:46
  • I agree, some places are better then others. I had both experiences myself. Even if you go away from your current job, you do not need to return to your home country (although that is a valid option, of course). You may want to keep searching internationally. – virolino May 15 at 5:48
  • In fact that's what I've been doing for the most part before, working remotely from my hometown. All the perks of overseas salary, local prices and being close to friends and family in a single package :-) – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 5:50
  • :) That is quite interesting, actually. You need to decide what works for you now. That can change in the future, of course, but in the future you will re-evaluate again, and take another decision. – virolino May 15 at 5:52
  • This is exactly the point why I want to deliver the info as professionally as possible to the employer: as in, "full-time ain't working out for me, you did a great job integrating me, but some things can be improved at your contractors and this whole thing isn't my cup of tea for the time being, let's potentially do business in future if we might need to" – Vladislav Korotnev May 15 at 5:55

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