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I work in a software outsourcing company.

Recently, my manager pulled me out of my project to work on a system design document for a new application from scratch. The client is from a very well-known manufacturing company. Now, the business unit leaders' decision to make someone with less than 2 years of experience do the task garnered me some unwanted attention. I was of course happy with it but apparently not those people who worked in the company for more than 4 years. I did not really care. I'm sort of infamous for being the quiet one, I do not really speak unless I'm spoken to and I do not not have many friends as well. I'm just good at what I'm tasked to do and I always try to be very polite and professional to everyone.

Weeks went on with me working on the system design. My manager praised me for being quick with it without sacrificing quality. She also told me that we will then present it to the clients, but it won't be me who will be presenting the design but one of our super PMOs. I agreed with that, I suck at speaking in front of people and this is a huge thing as well, the company cannot afford to mess up.

On the proposal day, I went to the meeting room but my manager had a bothered, uneasy face when she saw me. I ignored it and sat on the corner. She later then told me to keep quiet and that I do not exist for now, let them answer the questions if ever the clients has any. I was a offended by how she said that to me but I sat unbothered.

The meeting started and they projected the presentation that I made with utmost pride, but my heart sank when my name on the revision history page on the document were replaced by the name of the Super PMO who was presenting it then. He was talking like he was the one who spent hours making it, only using 'me', 'I'. I've never felt very violated in my whole life and I had to watch it through the end. My manager noticed this but did not want me to leave in case there were questions the Super PMO could not answer. I stayed there even if I really wanted to cry, over 50% of the questions were directed to me and I had to send the answers to the Super PMO via an instant messaging app.

They won the proposal. My manager told me I would not even be a lead when the project materializes, I'll be just one of the devs. They took every credit of my hard work. Nobody knew I existed.

After that sad experience, I went to the bathroom and cried. Then I went back to my table where my teammate was angry about what happened to me. They were full on warfreaks about it, saying I need to sue and complain. I was not about to do that, but I went on to check the contract I was in, turns out that system design and architecture is not specifically on it and the company has specialized people with that title.

Later on my manager had the guts to eat lunch with me and told me I got promoted two steps further, I am now an Associate Development Engineer. I acted happy. I received an email with the details about my promotion, the company praising me for having my fourth SS (highest) rating in last quarter's employee evaluation and also a tidbit about my raise. 30 effing dollars. Yay, I'm getting paid $430 monthly now. Oh joy. At this point they're blatantly just taking advantage of me.

Do I have every right to complain and make a case about the injustice that happened to me? I truly do not know what to do but I know that starting a fight is very troublesome, would it be worth it? Or should I just quit and find a better company? Does this happen often in this industry? Is that even legal, is there a law protecting small time employees from this kind of situation?

Thing is I'm very new in the industry, 22 years old and only about 1.5 years in, I don't know if companies will hire me with that little time and I admit I can be very naive.

Thanks for reading til the end and excuse my wrong grammar if I had any. English is not my first language. It feels good just writing this out and venting to strangers. Thank you very much.

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  • Hello @rath, thank you for the welcome. I'm located in the Philippines, I'm using $ because my employers are Americans, but they're based here. I'd like to keep the name of my company confidential. Sorry if I'm not doing some things right here, I'm fairly new to this site. Jan 24 '20 at 12:36
  • Hello @Stephan Branczyk, I'm not very confident with whatever I have against them- only emails and slack conversations. The project was just approved and is only about to be thrown to development. They can always just assign other interested people to study my design. I basically have no power over them. Jan 24 '20 at 12:48
  • see also Handling Credit-takers
    – gnat
    Jan 24 '20 at 12:50
  • Hello @joeqwerty, thank you for your input. I do think I have no case against them sadly, but is this really how rotten the industry is? The other employees get credited for their own work and proposals. Please tell me it's just not me. I even thought they did it to me because I'm inferior in experience or race or gender for one moment because I can't decipher why they did me like that. Jan 24 '20 at 13:04
  • 1
    @gnat I'll check them out, thank you very much. Jan 24 '20 at 13:04
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You're young, and inexperienced, both in terms of your technical skills, and your interpersonal skills. You still have a lot of maturing and growing to do.

Is what happened in that meeting fair? Absolutely not. Is it unusual? Sadly, no.

As others have already told you, the company probably needed a senior, polished, and experienced member of the team leading the presentation such that the customer would feel confident in the solution being presented. That doesn't excuse the way in which the situation was handled - probably not a company you want to stick around with long term.

A few hard lessons learned here: politics are very important in any company. As a programmer, and a junior one at that, you have very little say in anything. Even when you've proven your worth, you still don't have much leverage for negotiation. The only way you're ever going to get ahead if by learning to be a little less quiet, and gaining the trust and friendship of your team and manager(s). You need to learn how to make friends and influence people, otherwise you're only ever going to be the super-technical person who gets things done behind the scenes, but is never acknowledged publicly.

Learn to present. Get really good at it. Be aware of how you present yourself to the world (how you dress, the jokes you make, the people you hang out with at lunch, etc.). Jump at the opportunity to deal with customers, and assuage their fears, because that's what the company values most.

The good news is that at 1.5 years you have enough experience that you can start looking for a new job. It sounds like your fellow devs are firmly on your side, so maybe one of the more senior ones would agree to be your reference.

You're clearly technically capable, so look for a job that pays what you're actually worth. Might be worth trying to negotiate with your current boss, but unlikely to pan out.

Read this blog, and learn to sell yourself as a professional. There are a lot of developers out there, but not a lot of great ones. If you learn to present yourself at the same level that you can design technical specs, you'll get very far.

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  • Thank you very much the encouragement. This inspires me, thanks for going out of your way to give this advice. I'll certainly go back to this and make it a motivation to be better. Jan 24 '20 at 14:15
  • @error420found - I started off almost exactly where you are (shy and unaware of how office politics play out), and have had my share of sh!tty political experiences. Learn your own value, and how to sell it to employers. You're only ever as valuable as you're perceived to be, and you'll only ever capitalize on your skills if you learn to be your own marketing agent. Best of luck.
    – AndreiROM
    Jan 24 '20 at 14:34
  • @error420found I recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People and Technical Writing for Computer Science. Both are extremely good books, written in a very different style to each other, and both have helped me immensely. I won't link to them cause SO gets referral credit, but you can get both of them for the price of your raise, or less :)
    – rath
    Jan 24 '20 at 14:36
  • Thank you for all your kind words. I am currently reading these books. Jan 26 '20 at 11:43
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I wouldn't worry too much about the PMO taking credit for the design in front of the customers. If you have been promoted 2 steps that suggests your employers see what a good job you are doing and appreciate your hard work.

Customer sometimes need to see their work is being handled by the most senior people in the company in order to feel loved or like they are getting bang for their buck.

For example, I am frequently asked to go on calls with customers to talk them through how we're going to resolve some issue/bug for them. Chances are I've already emailed the support engineer explaining exactly what the customer needs to know and they have, in turn, passed this on to the customer. I will tell the account manager that the call will be a waste of everybody's time as I'll only be repeating what support have already told them. The account managers response is always "but they need to hear it from the development manager". So, I get on a call with a tetchy customer and tell them what a support engineer has already told them, but this time, because they are hearing it from somebody more senior, it satisfies them.

In terms of salary: Your salary is basically the result of a negotiation between you and your employer. Their aim in the negotiation is to get you do perform your role for the least amount of money possible. (If they are smart, they'll be aiming to pay you enough so your head isn't turned by roles elsewhere). Your aim is to get them to pay you as much as possible to do the role. What you are willing to do the job for - i.e. your current salary - is your market value.

In any negotiation, knowledge is key. You wouldn't go to buy a car and let the salesperson know the upper end of your budget - any more than they would let you know the minimum they can afford to let a car go for.

When it comes to salary reviews, the company has knowledge of your current salary giving them the upper hand. The know how much it takes to make you 5% or 10% better off. As a result annual salary reviews are typically small increments. To break this cycle you need to prove your market value has increased. The most effective way to do this is to get a better offer somewhere else. (You could go with market data etc. but another job offer adds some urgency with regard to time, plus it's not what you could get if you looked, it's what you have waiting for you right now).

If you're confident enough - don't reveal what the other salary offer is. This just gives them a number to beat. Tell them you want to be paid what they think you are worth (and not what they think will be enough to make you stay).

One final thing... you need to be prepared to take the new job in the event they don't match or come close.

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  • Thank you very much for your answer. I guess I just really have to accept this injustice. As for my salary, I wanted at least $500 a month after they pulled me out of uni after graduating but they just gave me $390 as starting. For 1.5y only $10 was the increase. They don't give me any chance to negotiate with them, I'm just a 'newbie'. I really have to move out after realizing I'm basically getting paid in cents. Jan 24 '20 at 13:06
  • That's exactly the opposite of what I intended! My points were (a) don't worry too much about what happened at the customer meeting (there may be customer management reasons behind it) and (b) to get a better salary you may need to find a better offer to strengthen your hand. If you have concerns about the type of work you're being given, that's probably a topic for a separate question.
    – amcdermott
    Jan 24 '20 at 13:10
  • A. I will try not to worry too much, if there were reasons behind it I would've preferred if they told me. B. This company took advantage of my naivety and I'm not about to stay in an unethical workplace anymore. Thank you very much for your advice, I will take all of them into account. Jan 24 '20 at 13:20

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