Please note before reading: I apologize in advance if this problem does not tackle a specifically work-related issue, but I think that the same advice can apply to this situation as well. Also, I lack any experience in work field and I feel very confused in this situation and all the stress is causing harm to my other activities, so I would gladly appreciate any kind of help from more expert people.

First, a bit of background

I'm currenctly at the second year of electronic engineering. Three years ago, I partecipated in an extracurricular training program in a field not strictly related with my course, but of personal interest. Eventually, with some fellow peers we created a student team (not a legal entity, but recognized and supported, also financially, by the university).

We take part in competition and even hosted a pretty big event (300 people) with great success. We are now around a dozen students and our teacher (who could be considered our "boss").


I'll give a little example of a particular difficulty I had: we accepted to do some job for other people; there was no deadline, just some work to do "eventually". I very happily took the job (thus making me the project "manager") and started working with a couple others, but because we don't have scheduled meeting, and because everyone is very much busy with other manners, it was difficult to coordinate and it quickly became a personal work: everyone was just going on its own and we did not talk.

I tried to confront my colleagues: "I've written this piece of software as a base, have a look and please work on this from now on so we have a common place to add our ideas", but this was pretty much ignored by most. I kept working every now and then, and every time I contributed something relevant, I tried to make sure that everyone was aware of my updates.

After a couple of months, one of my colleagues showed us his work, which he worked on in these months, without really telling anybody. I was quite upset, but because we did not show the "clients" anything for months, and because his code did pretty much all we needed, I decided to just go on with it. We tried to schedule a meeting with this guys but we had all kinds of problems and it went horribly.

Now exams are coming and I feel absolutely zero interest in working on this matter, and I would not have any real advantage in doing it other than experience and fun, but at this point it's just stress and frustration.

I 100% recognize the failure of my management skills, which obviously need improving, and solving this problematic situation would probably be a great exercise, but I resolved that right now my time is better employed if focused on other activities.


Long story short, I've decided that I want to "resign" from the team, for the following reasons:

  • mainly, I've decided that I want to focus on my study and spend more time for myself
  • while I'm interested in the work of the team, I know that I'm not going to pursue in this area for my future career, plus I feel the activity I do is not particularly rewarding
  • the workflow of the team is extremely fragmented and randomic, with little to no organization, even arranging a meeting where half of the poeple are there is difficult; every time I need to do something I feel it is a burden, rather than a job

I've not yet resolved the best way to approach my team and tell them that I'm not interested in working with them anymore (although I do not deny the possibility of doing so in the future, I don't want to burn the bridges). Should I talk with everyone or is it better if I have a talk first with our teacher? Heck, I don't even know wether doing it personally or by email is the better choice.

Most importantly, I do not even know what to say about the reason of my leaving, nor how to address the delicate issue of the project not being completed under my lead.

I would like to point out that the relation with everyone is rather friendly and confidential, there is no formality or contract, just a group of friends working together (the teacher is just one of those friend, even though he is the person of authority and our reference), so I almost feel a sense of "betray" in leaving them, possibly in even more difficulty than we are now, but I guess I'm just not being rational in this.

  • You didn't really fail; you stood up in a student group and took the lead. What's more, you did keep people updated. The colleague who duplicated your work is the one who ignored you. And by the way: A project without deliverable dates is not a project. Don't worry about it.
    – rath
    Jan 3, 2020 at 16:43
  • What Joe said is important: Don't grumble, don't vent, don't moan. Unless explicitly invited to do so. You're in a uni; there's some overlap with professional environments but it doesn't map 1:1. It probably wouldn't do any harm to moan just a bit. That said, the skill to cut through the emotion and other BS and get to the point is a valuable one, which can be practised here.
    – rath
    Jan 3, 2020 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


There was no project, no job, no payment, no communication and no structure. What, exactly, would you be walking away from? Nobody else seems to really care.

Talk to your teacher about your immediate plans, and concentrate on your studies for the near future. If you decide later to return to the project, you should treat it in a more structured way, with accountability for everyone involved. That, really, should have been addressed before external work was taken on - but that is no longer your problem.

  • 1
    The main point of this answer is that the only reason you need (and should give) is " I've decided that I want to focus on my study"
    – Damila
    Jan 3, 2020 at 18:46

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