I am a junior developer. I was hired 2 years ago as a software developer in a small company (About 20 people). My job was clear: programmer.

The work went very well. I developed everything that was required and completed under schedule. So I started helping my colleagues. Mainly with customer care, because of their difficulty in proceeding.

I like helping other people, but now it ended up that most of their work is turned over to me and new programs are given to other people.

Now, I rarely do my original work, that I studied for, was hired for, and is what I want to do. On top of that, it is a better paying career long-term.

Did I cut myself the branch where I was sitting on? Any advice?

What can I do to transition back to my old role of programming?

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    Thanks for the advice. I am not English. It's hard to sum up and create a summary title. Help is appreciated. – Mario Aug 11 '19 at 18:08
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    Talk to your manager. Simple as that. – solarflare Aug 11 '19 at 22:41
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    Is this work being assigned by your manager, or are other people giving you work, possibly without his knowledge? – Robin Bennett Aug 12 '19 at 14:13
  • What happens if/when you take a vacation? – user3067860 Aug 12 '19 at 16:36

First step should be to talk with your manager. Explain to them what you have explained to us here and state your wish to get more programming work.

Assuming that your manager agrees with your wish, ask them how long it will take them to transition your role fully back to programming (a transition period of one or two months seems reasonable to me, but you know your workplace best). Their reply here will give you a clue whether they really mean to let you move to your previous role or whether they are just stringing you along.

Observe the workplace in the coming months. Are you given programming jobs? Is the amount of time you spend doing customer care decreasing?

You need to be prepared to leave this job if necessary. While all of this is going on, apply for other jobs to keep your options open. Don't let them stick you into a role you do not want if you have other options.

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    It might be useful to track how much time you spend on non-programming tasks. Try keeping a diary for a week and then going back to the boss, who might not realise how much of your time is being taken up by non-programming. – Robin Bennett Aug 12 '19 at 14:03

If you're unhappy with your current responsibilities, and want to get back to what you were doing before, there are a few things you might consider:

  1. Talk with your manager. Express you desire to spend most of your time working on software. Ask for a way to transition your responsibilities to something like 80% programming, 20% other tasks.

  2. Talk with colleagues in roles that might better own your current tasks. If there is programming work you could be doing, but you're bogged down with these other tasks, talk to the folks who would otherwise own them and suggest transferring the responsibility. You should feel empowered to do this even without talking with your manager, but you can also ask your manager for help moving the responsibilities to other individuals.

  3. Decline to take on non-programming tasks. Just because you've been helping the team out by taking on these extra tasks, you're not obligated to continue. When asked to do something outside of your position's scope, politely decline and suggest the role or individual who might be a better fit for the work.

  4. Ask a leader in the company for help. If talking with your manager and peers doesn't seem to improve the situation, you should talk with a trusted leader of the company. A more senior member of the team may have a better view of the work needed across the organization and can either help you rebalance your responsibilities or help you understand why your current tasks are critical.

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    5. Find a new job in a new company and resign from the old company. – I am the Most Stupid Person Aug 12 '19 at 9:32
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    @IamtheMostStupidPerson - unfortunately, that's quite often what's required to accomplish this. "Yes, yes, we know - you want to code. But you're so valuable in this role (not that we'll pay you for being valuable, mind) that we can't possibly have you go back to being Just A Programmer (tm)". Translation: we can't sucker anyone else into doing this, so until you force our hand by quitting you're stuck doing whatever thankless, joyless, challenge-less task it is we've buried you beneath. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Aug 12 '19 at 16:39

You are doing customer care because you are good at it and there is nobody else to do it. They can't just reassign you to programming, because then nobody does customer care. So how do you get out of it? By getting a replacement.

  1. Point out that even though you are doing the best you can, customer care is really not your area of expertise (you are a software developer, after all) and you have far too much to do with keeping all the precious customers happy. So you need help.
  2. Assist with finding a second customer care person, either externally or from within the company.
  3. Train that person so they can do your job.
  4. Point out that with your replacement doing such an amazing job and there not being that much to do anymore, it would be far better for to company to send you back to programming.
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