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I am currently a software developer in a government agency in my first job out of university. I have been here 6 months. We are in a Scrum environment where each developer is assigned a set number of points to do each sprint. As we do it, they want every developer doing the same number of points each sprint.

Normally this would screw the junior guy, but because I have the most experience with React as it is new to the agency (where 90% of the work is now), get distracted less than most, and work 1-2 more hours a day than others, I can consistently finish my entire block of sprint work in a week. This week I got to do the CSS for an entire section and was ordered not to take on more work beyond that as our mostly backend engineering team sized it enormously. The sprint started Wednesday and all my work goes to QA tomorrow on Monday. 7 days free...

Because of the "same number of points" thinking, they won't let me pull more work off the backlog, so I end up doing udemy/answer questions on StackOverflow (this is a burner account) /blogging and writing the other half of the sprint. I used to just pull work off the backlog, do it, and tell them to live with it that it was done (and it passed QA and all that), but was told to stop that too. I also enter a ton of innovation challenges and am currently onboarding as a software instructor at our local public college.

Here is my problem. Resumes are heavily built around jobs and three positions concurrently is absurd.To an employer, you seem distracted and potentially disloyal.

However, I want to keep the freelancing because it uses technologies I don't get to use for work (monolith vs microservice and message queue systems). The innovation stuff has the interest factor and some nice large names (NASA, Exxon, etc). The instructor job would be a giving back kind of thing.

I can't leave my current area in USA/Canada due to family constraints and this part is a bit economically depressed right now. My mother is ill unfortunately, so I do not want to be too far away.

I have two specific questions:

  1. How can I advance my career without constantly adding outside jobs to my life? I passed a pile of proposals to several senior managers at the agency and they say they are "evaluating" them.

  2. Is there a reasonable way to encapsulate experience gained from many different side things without causing resume problems?

  • Why wouldn't you spend that extra time improving the documentation or mentoring the more junior members? – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 5 at 9:50
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    @TymoteuszPaul I am the most junior developer at the company by 4 years. Documentation stuff is thankless work nobody values (which is why nobody does it in most companies), so that wouldn't benefit my career. – nochallenge4me Jan 5 at 10:59
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    @nochallenge4me that's just so wrong on so many levels. Documentation work may be in some teams thankless, but that's usually the result of there being no good documentation in place. And being able to document your work incoherent way is about the rares, and also very sought after, skill for any developer. – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 5 at 11:54
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    "We are in a Scrum environment" no, you are not. What you describe has nothing to do with Scrum, actually, assigning you the points to do is the anti-thesis of Scrum or agile in general. It's about as much Scrum as the "People's Democratic Republic" is for the people or democratic or a republic. Going forward, please don't confuse what you do there with actual Scrum. – nvoigt Jan 5 at 13:35
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    I also have no life, so working until 2AM is fine. - FYI, this will be unhealthy for you in the long term. I would suggest you find yourself some hobbies to at least reduce the amount of time working before you get stuck in no longer knowing how to not-work, ending in stress/mental-breakdowns/etc. – rkeet Jan 6 at 14:57
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We are in a Scrum environment

You're not.

They assign everyone a set number of tasks, won't let anyone change them, and won't let anyone pull work off the backlog if they have free time? Agile my arse. Welcome to the common world of "fake agile", where a non-technical manager hears that scrum and agile are cool, trendy things they should be doing, so adopt some of the terms while adopting none of the process. They then employ fresh grads and persuade them this is how agile works in the "real world", quickly dismissing anyone who may dare to disagree.

Even then, this seems like a special case - the fact they seemingly would prefer you to sit around doing nothing rather than pull items of the backlog is beyond absurd.

However, that doesn't mean the experience you're gaining here is worthless - far from it.

How can I advance my career without constantly adding outside jobs to my life? I passed a pile of proposals to several senior managers at the agency and they say they are "evaluating" them.

You're advancing your career by being there and getting real-world experience, however much their process may be absurd. You're advancing your knowledge further by using your free time to boost your knowledge - that's great, keep it up.

I also enter a ton of innovation challenges and am currently onboarding as a software instructor at our local public college. [...] Is there a reasonable way to encapsulate experience gained from many different side things without causing resume problems?

I wouldn't say innovation challenges count as a working position per-se, so you don't need to list that on your CV as a job (you can, and should of course list it as extra experience elsewhere.) That leaves your main job, and a potential side job every so often of teaching, which as you say is more of a "giving back" type thing, so that isn't a bad thing at all (assuming your current employer is ok with it of course!)

My general advice would be to stick this one out for another 6 months or so, which is a normal length of time for an initial graduate job anyway, and then start looking for pastures new. You'll then have more experience under your belt so can demand a higher salary, as well as the knowledge to ask specific questions on how a potential future employer's agile process works (so as not to fall into the same trap again.)

  • I don't think OP is going to gain much by waiting 6 months, and might as well start looking now. Just be ready for pushing recruitment agents who will want you to take any job that earns them a commission. Only move if you really like the next job. – Robin Bennett Jan 6 at 9:38
  • "the fact they seemingly would prefer you to sit around doing nothing rather than pull items of the backlog is beyond absurd" equal expectations and an army of Spring developers trying to write React code, lol! – nochallenge4me Jan 7 at 5:09
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+1 for "You're Not" by @berry120.

The number of points and bringing in of stories is done by the team, not management - it should be a self managing team.

I can see their point about wanting to have a predictable velocity, in which case they should provide a List of Stuff (tm) for developers who have run out of work - which will be every sprint by definition, as the testers will still have work.

Speaking of, you should ideally be a multi skilled team. Why don't you pick up some of the test work? Start by pairing with somebody to get a feel for the process and tools.

Doing this will massively add to your future employability.

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