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I work for a company which for the longest time did not have a consumer facing application. That meant that frontend was a second thought and that they have never hired for skill in it. I was not tested for it in my interview with them as while they wanted the skill, they had nobody qualified to test it.

Things have changed to the point that a lot of applications need frontend work, so in my 6 months here, that stuff has been my entire day. It has even got to the point where most of the backend Java devs are being used to write frontend JS code and ship it, even though they admit it is garbage.

By the end of my 9 month initial contract, I may get only 5-6 commits of substantial backend code despite wanting to be a full stack dev. The backend work I am getting is only when I deliberately slow down my frontend work to try and be equally unproductive as the rest (as otherwise I don't even get to work with the API calls), so they may be giving me backend work which is easier. How screwed am I if I need to search for a job in a few months?

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    not in the least – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jan 7 '20 at 5:27
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    You seem in a good position to get your contract renewed. – CrabbyCoderKing Jan 7 '20 at 5:40
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    You signing up for full stack doesn't mean that the company have any obligation to assign you backend and frontend work in any proportion. Work load always varies, if it happens to be that at the time, that there are little backend works that needs to be done, then as a full stacker you have the advantage because you'll still be useful in frontend. – Lie Ryan Jan 7 '20 at 5:49
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    You are doing the work they are giving you -- they know their workload. Why would you needto leave sooner? – さりげない告白 Jan 7 '20 at 5:59
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    I think in your first job you should concentrate on getting any programming experience, and on building a good employment record. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 7 '20 at 6:30
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You currently talking about couple of months you were only doing frontend work. From my point of view that's not unreasonable. You cannot expect equal proportions of frontend and backend work for such a short timeframe. Your employer hired you as full stack dev, so you can pick up any work currently needed.

You may have more insight on the roadmap of your employer, so you probably can estimate, if more backend work is in the pipeline for the next months. Regular review meetings with your boss are a good time to discuss the plans of the company, your wishes and the alignment.

If you are unsatisfied with this outlook you can switch to a new job of course, but switching every couple of months, because you are not completely satisfied with your work assignments may look bad on your employment record in the long run.

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If you understand the backend stuff, can talk knowledgably about it, and have done even a little, you should have no problem getting though an interview for another full-stack job.

In your position, the professional thing to do is to help the people who are new to front-end code. Do code reviews, offer advice and short demos, or post links to useful tutorials. Get the team to discuss coding standards and write them up.

The short term benefit is that you no longer have to do all the front end stuff on your own, but the long term benefit is that you improve your people skills, raise your profile and are more likely to impress a future interviewer as a team player and potential team leader.

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Full Disclosure: This answer shamelessly plugs previous posts of mine

In my previous project all the Java devs were asked to pick up React as we had to do frontend. We had a very experienced frontend lead, who - although occasionally disagreeable as a character - managed to pull us into shape so that "complete garbage" is now rare.

This is something you'll need to sell to your manager the same way I sell it to you: I recommend focusing on code reviews and knowledge transfer to get the rest of the team up to speed. Then, the rest of the team would focus on the frontend and there should be enough backend work for you to pick up.

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Company projects come and go - but look for the trend

A few months of doing frontend doesn't in itself prove that it's going to be just frontend from here on out. But from what you describe the company has mostly pure backend people and is moving to build more frontend stuff.

Don't be passive-aggressive

The backend work I am getting is only when I deliberately slow down my frontend work to try and be equally unproductive as the rest

If there's one thing everyone hates it's passive-aggressive colleagues.

Seize the opportunity...

If the company's newfound frontend needs are there to stay, they're probably going to end up hiring more frontend people. You write that your colleagues are worse at frontend than you. This creates an opportunity for you to become the key player in coordinating front- and backend people.

This would probably be more of a technical leadership role than a pure developer role though. Could be a good career move but you do have to like it.

...Or decide that you'd rather go elsewhere

If you'd rather be a pure developer then you might want to jump ship. The market is good for it.

But you do need to keep in mind that employers are wary of people who switch jobs often. It costs a lot to hire someone, because you need to do a whole hiring process and then they also need time to learn the code base and any weird software platforms the company uses. Companies would rather not blow all that money on someone who'll be out the door again soon.

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It's the exact opposite for me: I'm hired as a full stack dev (also a contractor), but all the work I got is backend staff.

One of the reason I signed up for this position was to learn a different frontend framework than the one I'm familiar with.

But I don't feel screwed at all. Because 'full stack' means you are able to do both frontend and backend. It doesn't implies that you SHOULD be doing both.

My 5 cents.

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