I've been working for a small consulting company, hired out to a different company, doing "qualified-but-not-really" projects for two years. My goal is to get into development, but my academic background is shaky, with a technical, but non-CS, bachelor's degree that I finished late.
About six months ago, me and a colleague got assigned to a project doing JS/Node-development for a small client in a different country, doing close-to-the-hardware-stuff. For him (the colleague), this was supposed to be paid work. For me, this was supposed to be training (non-paid, non-scheduled, remote, on top of my already full-time work), with minimal responsibility (or at least that's how I understood it).
The whole thing collapsed horribly. No meetings that led anywhere, the only on-premises guy who had been working on the code was basically out the door, there was no project owner or lead, and no spec, no tickets but the ones I wrote, no QA, no nothing. I didn't have access to the hardware, so I couldn't experiment my way to how the thing worked.
I ended working on this alone, in isolation. Later I found out that my colleague (who is supposed to be an experienced dev) simply told our boss (who were negotiating with the client), that the project is too hard and quit it. I also found out that the client weren't paying for the work my colleague did. I ended up trying to help however I could, but nothing was working. I couldn't even run the code (since I don't have the hardware).
After about four months of trying and failing solo-style, I scheduled a meeting with my boss, and told him (almost through tears) that I'm quitting this project. He first told me that as far as he knew, the project had been frozen for some time (news to me). Then he scolded me, and told me that developers need initiative.
This whole mess has left some kind of scar in me. Months later, I'm still trying to figure out what happened. I can't even figure out whether it's all my fault or not.
Since then, any talks about other dev projects have died down. But I'm still aiming to become a dev.
I have a couple of questions about this:
- Is any of this normal? I've been told it's always like this, but I have a hard time believing that.
- This is so far my only "real" experience with dev work outside school and personal projects. I feel like I can't present this experience like work experience. Is my career savable? Can I mend things with this employer (the consultancy firm, not the client)? How should I go about presenting this to other employers? Or not present it at all? How do I do damage control on this kind of thing?