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I have been in software development only about 10 months and I was hired for Python/Django platform. The boss wants me to work on a mobile project. which I don't not want to work on. These are my reasons.

  1. In mobile apps there is importance placed on GUI stuff (animation , etc.), which I do not care about. I'm the kind of guy who loves hard-core coding, GUI does not matter to me.

  2. They are not using the core mobile development platform. Instead they are using Titanium IDE and write code in JavaScript. So basically there is no scope to expand the software development skills.

I understand my position as I'm new in the company , but by saying "yes" this would not benefit the company nor me.

How do I convey this message to boss?

EDIT

I have taken my stand and after giving it much thought. I have quit my job. it is been only few days. I trying to found out another one. Applying to companies mostly startups and writing lot of code as a part of job application and hopefully things will work out.

Thanks you all you guys for giving your opinions.

EDIT 2 It has been 40 days since i left my job and got new job in a startup (python/Django).

  • 5
    While hard-core coding is great, designing a great GUI that humans understand and enjoy could be even more challenging, don't limit yourself. – jsedano Aug 29 '13 at 17:12
  • What did your boss say was the rationale behind assigning you instead of somebody else to this project? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Nov 4 '13 at 12:53
  • @user10607 - Thanks for the follow up! Keep us up to date on how things are going. You can drop by The Workplace Chat to say hi. – jmort253 Nov 4 '13 at 18:21
  • I probably would have found the new job before i just quit... but GL to you. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 4 '13 at 19:05
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    It's your life user10607, but if you quit your job every time you are given something to do that you don't like, I suspect that the rest of your career will go very badly for you. – DJClayworth Nov 4 '13 at 21:43
16

What you signed up for

I am not a lawyer, nor have I seen your contract, but most of them have clause along the lines of 'and other tasks as required', which means that contractually you have agreed to do other work for him if required.

Progression

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way let's get to the real stuff.

It's a fact of life that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. Maybe the boss doesn't have anyone else who he thinks can do this piece of work, maybe he thinks you should learn these new skills required to be able to do it, without really talking to him who really knows.

Sometimes what is good for the company isn't good for your career. At these points you have a few options.

Blatantly Refuse

Sure you could just tell the boss 'No, I don't want to do this'. However I don't see this going very well, some might call it a 'career limiting move' by which I mean, depending on where you live, you could find yourself terminated rather quickly. So this isn't really an ideal option.

Accept it and do it

Another option would be to suck it up and get on with it like millions of other people in the world are currently doing. You might learn something new from this, you will get the opportunity to learn the new technologies, you will get the opportunity to work more with GUI stuff and you will get the opportunity to further your skills, this could, in time, help you to get a new job.

Alternately you could just be miserable for the entire project depending on the kind of attitude you approach it with. Whether or not you do this option is definitely your call. Will the new skills be worth the potential dislike of what you are doing.

Present a case for someone else

O.k so maybe you aren't the right person to tackle this task, maybe one of your co workers is itching to do this kind of work, maybe they already have experience doing this kind of work. If you really don't think you are the best person for the job then you can talk to the boss about someone better suited doing this. This is a very risky choice however, as you are drawing attention to the fact that you lack what might be required skills and that you lack the motivation to help the company if it isn't in your own best interests.

Move on to greener pastures

I hate suggesting this, but I will do so for the sake of completeness of your options. You could quit, this shouldn't be your first choice though. Maybe you tried suggesting someone else and blatantly refusing, maybe you gave it your best shot and its just not for you. Maybe your boss knows all of this and just doesn't care. If it's not working out and you are consistently doing things you don't like doing you can move on. This is also very risky, as you cannot guarantee another job, or even that you will enjoy working for that other company. Plus you will have to realise that even in that new company there will be the potential for you to be given work you don't like. But if the company wants the work done, someone needs to do it and you cant always get the stuff you like.

Conclusion

Essentially you have a plethora of options to take, each with their own flaws. I won't pretend to know what's best for you, only you can know that. Personally I would at least give it a try, you never know what you might learn but the choice is yours. Good luck in whatever option you choose!

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    @RhysW - As you point out there is no way to refuse to do this task and keep your job in a situation like this. As somebody only in the industry for 10 months, I find it funny, they are able to decide their is no software development skills to be gained from a project like they describe. In reality based on the fact the author thinks that, should be the exact reason, they actually do the project. – Donald Aug 29 '13 at 11:27
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    If you want any sort of career progression then you are going to have to take a serious look at yourself and your motivations. The more senior role you aspire to, the more it will require that you can see the big picture - you'll need to be able to appreciate the importance of good GUIs and what makes a good design, even if you don't actually code any of it. Simply waving away something that important as being of no interest to you won't wash. Of course you may be happy just doing backend stuff, but do realise it will limit your future. – Julia Hayward Aug 29 '13 at 16:18
  • A bit late to this conversation, but I have worked with people who have found another way of avoiding projects they're not interested in--they say yes and somehow never get around to starting. – Amy Blankenship Oct 19 '13 at 3:45
8

I don't think you should be conveying this, but rise to the opportunity instead.

The company wants you to do this project for the following reasons:

  1. There is a business need (Your job is to service these)
  2. This is an opportunity to expand your experience and knowledge (and in an area that many seasoned devs would love to get involved)
  3. Sophisticated Javascript and frameworks are becoming a vital way of expanding skills, they are starting to be used in front-end/back end in both web and applications.

As you say you are new in the company, you need to go where they need you, it's usually only the people with vital skills/domain knowledge/codebase knowledge who can skip out of other projects, I'd doubt you're at that stage yet.

2

I find the other answers to be a bit fatalistic ("do what the manager says", "it's good for you").

In your situation I would say to the boss: Yes, I will try to switch, but do you mind if I first complete some tasks with Python/Django side? Here are the guys on the team who say the company would benefit if I continue with what I've been doing for 10 months.

The conversation can flow differently from there. You might be able to stick to Python, or you might indeed find out that that part is considered finished and you have to work on GUI part or leave.

But at least you've tried.

2

Your first priority is that you absolutely do not want to be seen as the guy who is only willing to do the stuff that interests you. That's going to get you a reputation as someone who is inflexible, difficult to work with, and of limited use to the company. This will be absolutely a 'career limiting move', making you an early target if people have to be let go, and last on the list for advancement. If the company decides to move away from Python/Django then you'll be let go without a second thought. That said, there is nothing to stop you expressing a preference. Go to your boss and say "I understand that you need people to write mobile apps, and I'm very willing to do it if the company needs it, but i would prefer to work in the area I'm currently in.". If he says "we need you to do mobile development", then get on with it using all your enthusiasm.

After ten months in software development, you probably don't have a clear idea of what different kinds of development really involve. Trying mobile development for a few months really isn't going to hurt your career in 'hard core' development (those of us who write in assembler, C, or OpenGL don't think of Python as 'hard core', by the way). At this stage in your career, trying new things is only going to be good for you. Think of it as extra skills to add to your resume.

1

There are a few ways to handle this and it depends greatly on where you want to go with your career and how long you plan to be with this company. I was told early in my career to always plot your career trajectory with each assignment you take on. The includes not only getting the next assignment, but when you will leave your current assignment or job.

If you have to choose between what's best for your career and what's best for the company, you should almost always choose what's best for your career. The only exception is if a shitty short-term project will get you closer to your medium to longer-term career goals, then you should consider it if you put a time limit on it - say 3-6 months. If you hit a home run with the project that nobody else was willing to work on, then it is a net positive for you - but generally only with your current company. If staying with that company is something you see as good for your career, tough it out for a bit with the caveats I mentioned. Employee and employer loyalty for the sake of itself is a myth from a bygone era, and neither side should have any expectation of it. This does not mean you should not be a professional in how you handle all of your career activities. A professional will tough out an undesirable assignment for a time, but not forever.

Note --> Forever in the IT industry is about two years. :-)

In IT, things change fast. That's a double-edged sword in that:

  • However horrible my current assignment is, it will likely change soon
  • However wonderful my current assignment is, it will likely change soon

Some background (feel free to skip over)

This past year I left a what was initially my dream job with the largest software company in the world to help found a start-up. The paragraph above is the advice I gave myself. At the previous job I got to work with some very talented people for several years on some amazing and high-profile projects. When our director moved on we started getting handed only mop & bucket projects that I knew would never amount to anything (and they didn't). The most important project our team worked on (public facing with millions of articles & millions of monthly users) was de-funded, put into "maintenance mode" with a small team of mildly competent offshore resources, and we were all given the opportunity to work on a shell of a project with a very different set of tools, which we later found out had about a dozen active users, had been a train-wreck for at least two years, and that nobody actually wanted to use or even needed. I was going back to school at the time and the flexible schedule I had was important enough to me that I chose to tough it out for six months. When it became apparent to me that not only was this project some big wig's crown jewel but that it was not to be cancelled for any reason. I decided that this brief turd polishing portion of my career had to end. When an opportunity came along to build software on a project that I believed in, I jumped ship and have been exceedingly happy that I did so. My new gig is literally helping to cure cancer, which was the reason I was going back to school in the first place :-)

Your results may vary, but I thought the perspective might be useful to you.

tl;dr: Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to run.

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