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I am a software engineer at a non-tech but very large engineering company. I am one year into a new-grad program. Relative to my new-hire peers, I feel like I tasked to do a lot more and I have to stay longer hours than most. I really enjoy the technical assignments that I am tasked with and I sometimes go above and beyond (staying really late to solve problems) at my own expense. However, I do feel very jealous that my peers can leave work early and do relatively nothing all day while I am tasked with these never-ending responsibilities. I don't feel like I should bring this up to management because it's generally not my peer's fault that they have nothing assigned to them, it is their managers.

My hope is that by being assigned difficult tasks and responsibilities, I will grow quicker career-wise.. but I feel like no matter how much I work, it won't be realized at my company. I feel like there's more political games to play with management and upper management in order to get noticed for a promotion.

Bonus scenario:

I have a peer in this new-grad program who probably doesn't work 40 hours a week on their technical work (or even 40 hours, in general). Our manager seems to tolerate it however I am very jealous that this person can get away with this. In addition, this person networks a lot and disregards their immediate technical tasks. I am, again, jealous because I want to be able to network too without hindering my technical performance. I feel like this person will grow their career faster by, ironically, ignoring their technical tasks.

So, I am not a very good networker and it would take me quite a bit of time to learning how to do so. I feel like I could make a bigger impact on technical work because I try to make strategic steps towards working for or being a consultant.

Based on the above:

  • Is my jealousy towards my peers, in general, valid? If yes, what should I tell myself to not let it get to me. If no, why not?
  • Is my jealousy towards the bonus peer valid, or again, should I just focus on myself? If yes, what steps should I make to have more time to network. If no, again, why not?
  • Will working harder technically pay off, at all, or should I focus on making more management-related strategies to further my career?
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    Welcome to the real world. Be nice to that peer, he'll one day be your supervisor. – solarflare Aug 23 at 5:17
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    Something you could do is keep a record of your achievements. When you do a lot it is often hard to remember even half of everything you have achieved so it is handy to keep a note. – P. Hopkinson Aug 23 at 9:48
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tl;dr you may be actively harming yourself through your actions. It's a real roll of the dice as to whether or not it'll work out in your favour, but you can expect these qualities to be abused.

Relative to my new-hire peers, I feel like I tasked to do a lot more and I have to stay longer hours than most. I really enjoy the technical assignments that I am tasked with and I sometimes go above and beyond (staying really late to solve problems) at my own expense.

One might think that staying late to solve problems/tasks looks great, but flip it around without drawing on the knowledge you have in your head. You have to stay late to solve the work that your peers manage to get done during normal work hours. You lack a sense of boundaries with work, and a sense of priorities with life. In short, you're inefficient and don't know how to prioritize your life.

I do feel very jealous that my peers can leave work early and do relatively nothing all day while I am tasked with these never-ending responsibilities

Early or on time? Also, I would strongly avoid assessing your peer's performance if they are outside of your direct dependencies.

I don't feel like I should bring this up to management

Good, that would be a Career Limiting Move.

because it's generally not my peer's fault that they have nothing assigned to them, it is their managers

It's also none of your business.

My hope is that by being assigned difficult tasks and responsibilities, I will grow quicker career-wise.. but I feel like no matter how much I work, it won't be realized at my company

Maybe they are difficult, maybe they aren't. You're only a year in to your career, and all you know is that those tasks are difficult for you. You don't really mention your responsibilities, so can't comment there. No matter what though, I reckon there is room to take a step back and chill out. You've been there for a year and are already complaining about the lack of recognition for your genius.

I feel like there's more political games to play with management and upper management in order to get noticed for a promotion.

Hard work only pays off when the right people notice it. Also, a million good deeds worth of good will can be erased by a single misdeed.

I have a peer in this new-grad program who probably doesn't work 40 hours a week on their technical work (or even 40 hours, in general). Not your problem.

Our manager seems to tolerate it however I am very jealous that this person can get away with this. In addition, this person networks a lot and disregards their immediate technical tasks. I am, again, jealous because I want to be able to network too without hindering my technical performance. I feel like this person will grow their career faster by, ironically, ignoring their technical tasks.

They might. You might. What they do is really not your problem.

So, I am not a very good networker and it would take me quite a bit of time to learning how to do so. I feel like I could make a bigger impact on technical work because I try to make strategic steps towards working for or being a consultant.

It sound like the above person's strategy is really not for you.


Answering your questions directly:

  • Is my jealousy towards my peers, in general, valid? If yes, what should I tell myself to not let it get to me. If no, why not?

Sure, feelings are valid. They're doing things that are better for them, and you seem to be actively harming yourself and focusing on other people's work and not your own. As for what to do about it, that's really hard. Jealous is very difficult to manage. The most immediate strategy is to focus on what you need to do to be successful, and stop focusing on your coworker's (apparent) success.

  • Is my jealousy towards the bonus peer valid, or again, should I just focus on myself? If yes, what steps should I make to have more time to network. If no, again, why not?

Same as above. It's one hundred percent not your business. If you want to network, learn to talk to people, ask questions, and be curious about them without sounding like you're interrogating them.

  • Will working harder technically pay off, at all, or should I focus on making more management-related strategies to further my career?

I mean, technically yes, if you're continuously going deeper while broadening your experience. Get "comb shaped" skills. But really? Chances are high you'll hit a wall and burn out. Work normal hours, find a hobby, make friends, forge relationships, chat with coworkers on safe topics. When management sees you as a productive, competent, and whole person, you've got the best chances for success.

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    I would agree with most of you answer here except this response. Regarding my question: Relative to my new-hire peers, I feel like I tasked to do a lot more and I have to stay longer hours than most. > You're only a year in to your career, and all you know is that those tasks are difficult for you. My peers have said, in confidentiality, they have almost no work to do. I have worked in their positions within the same team in my first few months and I am aware that they literally have minimal tasks to perform. – Throwaway Aug 23 at 4:02
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    >Also, Early or on time? I mean early. Tasks are not completed and those responsible are out the door. – Throwaway Aug 23 at 4:08
  • >You've been there for a year and are already complaining about the lack of recognition for your genius. I used the term: "hard work" in the future tense "I will grow quicker career-wise" in order to say that any future attempt of hard work would go unrecognized. I don't want to be recognized immediately. But if I continue to work hard, I'd like to do so such that someone will notice. People, in general, work harder to get a promotion or bonus. Promotions are given by other people. If other people do not notice someone working harder, why would they promote or give them a bonus? – Throwaway Aug 23 at 4:14
  • @Throwaway often people that are visible (that means networking) get a bonus or promotion, while the person doing the hard technical stuff in their quiet corner is overlooked. So socialize with your colleagues (but not too much, so you don't seem like you're avoiding work), take part in social events or even in planning them and dress smart to make yourself visible. At least that's what numerous career advisors say, I am not navigating the workplace long enough to determine if this advice is accurate. – Lehue Aug 23 at 6:16
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    @Throwaway please understand that an unfinished task does not define your working hours. If the clock say my work day is over it is perfectly fine to go home leaving my current task unfinished: tomorrow is another day to spend working on it. – Paolo Aug 23 at 12:06
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I think this question has an answer that is short and sweet.

Stop worrying about your peers. Decide for yourself what you want to accomplish in your career. Decide what you're willing to sacrifice in terms of time, energy, and resources to meet your goals. Make a plan, and go achieve your dreams.

The problem with peer comparisons and jealousy is that you're comparing apples to oranges. Your peers may have different motivators and may be chasing different things in life. They may have different resources than you. They may be making sacrifices in other areas that you're not aware of. Let them go. Focus on you. There will always be someone who has more money, more spare time, less work, more political connections, and so on. If you allow your own emotions to be driven by comparing yourselves to those people, you will never be happy. Take control of your own life.

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What you're describing is something that many technically-oriented people encounter when they first enter the industry. My perception, given your description, is that you're very focused, and have jumped into your role and responsibilities with enthusiasm.

The other answers are correct in that you need to stop focusing on your coworkers, and decide what you want to accomplish for yourself (what time you want to get home, how much effort you want to put in, etc.)

What I'm here to add, however, is that you still need to pay attention to what everyone around you is doing if you want to be successful.

Let's address the issues one by one:

  1. You assume that the more work you do, the more you'll be noticed, the more experience you'll gain, and the ultimately, you'll be rewarded for it. Sadly, that's not always how it plays out:

    • You generally gain robust knowledge and experience by performing a variety of tasks, not simply by doing "more work". In other words, that "work" must be of the right sort. If you're spending several hours doing manual data entry you haven't gained any valuable knowledge. To summarize: more work != more better.

    • You assume that the more you work, the more management will take note of your accomplishments, but again, it all depends on the work in question, and the company culture:

      • Consider that by working a lot of extra hours (I'm assuming unpaid), you've become somewhat bitter.
      • This will come across in your daily interactions, and make you less pleasant to be around, which will be more relevant to your manager than your extra work, which may or may not be critical to the company.
    • You assume that by doing a lot of work you'll be rewarded for your efforts:

      • Again: the value of your work, the visibility of your efforts, and the perception of your contributions will actually determine whether you're rewarded or not.
      • Human beings are social creatures. We trust and respect those whom we perceive to be the best among us, and this perception is not always based on hard, cold facts, but on social interaction.
      • You would do well to start forging bonds with the people around you. Be friendly with your boss and coworkers. When you hear that so-and-so has a problem, maybe take a minute to help them (this is heavily contextual). You may not gain any killer experience, but they'll remember that help, and this will matter more than the 10 support tickets you've closed which no one has visibility on.
      • Lastly, by doing a lot of work you may simply become the guy in whose lap everything gets dumped because you're obsessive about your work. Learn to separate your work from your life. If you have too much work on your plate and can't hit a deadline speak up!
  2. Feeling jealous of your peers:

    • This is a hole you've dug for yourself, and one that you can easily climb out of. At quitting time, simply turn lock your machine, turn off your monitor, and walk out along with everyone else.
  3. Playing political games with management:

    • Again, we humans are social creatures. Office politics is just another word for interpersonal relationships, and this is not an inherently negative thing.
    • Us technical folks are typically introverts, and not particularly adept at interacting with others (I'm generalizing, but this is a stereotype I've encountered often). Managers are typically extroverts (again, generalizing). We tend to feel more comfortable around those who are "like us", therefore managers will get along better with, and form a more positive perception of, other extroverts
    • You need to learn to connect to your coworkers, and especially your manager. Ask them about their hobbies, go out for lunch together, and engage in office chit-chat.

Allow me to regale you with a story from my first job, which I think you'll find relevant:

Myself and another guy were hired as junior devs at around the same time, and worked on much the same systems. I would sometimes stay late to get through some ticket or another; he would log off at quitting time on the dot, and be one of the first ones out the door.

From a technical perspective, I had more education, and more experience than him, and I think it showed in the quality of my code. However, he and the manager both played hockey, and they bonded over that. Soon enough our manager would approach him for help with small issues here and there.

In the months that followed, the Director would sometimes join them to discuss various sports teams, etc. Eventually he was asked to handle more sensitive projects, because the management trusted and liked him.

When our senior dev quit, he was the one promoted, and although I was upset at the time, I now realize that it could not possibly have played out otherwise.

It's all perception, you see.


Conclusion

Learn to adapt and fit in. Build (professional) relationships with the people around you (no need to go out after work or become friends, simply be friendly and helpful in the office). Ensure that your efforts have visibility. Protect your interests against bullies and manipulators in the office (this is something you haven't mentioned, but will invariably encounter sooner or later in your career.)

Do all these things, and you'll be fine.

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This guy is doing something right if the bosses let him do his thing so you should ask him to show you how he's doing it. If not then you gotta mind your own business because they aint gonna fire this guy because your upset but they might fire you if you caue trouble.

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