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I have been a intern developer at a multinational company for 7 months now. I was very motivated and satisfied with my position for about 3-4 months, until I realized that there were other full-time developers working on way less complex demands and bringing less value to the company and the team than I was. I spoke with my managers (who before gave me a 99% positive feedback) about the issue and how I was feeling. They completely understood me, confirmed that my feeling was justified, but, couldn't do anything for me at the time nor give me a possible date for a promotion. They proceed to explain me why they couldn't, which boils down to bureaucracy, protocol, and funds that the team didn't have and they had no control over. This demotivated me because I don't feel like working for a company that my value and progress is determined by pure chance of things happening outside of everyone's control.

Three months later, a friend of mine indicated me for an intern position at the company he works at. I did the interview, passed, and got a better proposal than I expected: be hired as a full-time junior developer.

That is exactly what I wanted, but, when informing my managers about this opportunity, they again said they couldn't do anything right away, but did warn me that I was a very valuable component of the team and that there was a lot of opportunity to look after here. This statement and a few conversations with my parents about the subject made me question my decision.

I've considered the pros and cons of this opportunity, which led me to my current decision. So, the questions are: Is 7 months too little time to want to be recognized and I'm being too hasty about it? And should I consider "promises" when evaluating where I should work (assuming that my managers are honest)?

Notes:

  • The company has a inconsistent policy about interns -- some stay as an intern for 1 or 2 years, others are hired as soon as 3 months. In my team the average time is 1,5 years.
  • There is another intern in my team that has been here for a longer period than I. I assume that he is considered to be hired before me (even if he brings less value), so the "funds" are even more limited.
  • I live in Brazil.
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    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. :) This might be confusing, but the bird is a job offer for a real job, the two in the bush are the vague promises of potential future opportunities with your current employer. – Dom Apr 9 at 14:04
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    "Full Time Developer" is much better on your CV than "Intern". If you spend another year as an intern, your opportunities in the job market will be little more than they are now. IMO, unless there is something really unappealing about the new place, take the job. – Pete W Apr 9 at 14:18
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    I cannot answer "Am I too hasty?". But "informing my managers about this opportunity" pretty much settles it. You need to move now. Any chance of promotion or better opportunity is now gone. What they'll remember is: "jhonatan could leave any time, let's not invest in them" – Jeffrey Apr 9 at 17:08
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    @Jeffrey - that's not true at all. This is a silly SO meme, the real world doesn't consist of petty children in every position. – Davor Apr 10 at 7:36
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    @Davor It doesn't consist entirely of petty children, but it does contain plenty of hard-nosed realists who have seen it all before and will draw the same conclusion. And if the OP doesn't leave, they have demonstrated that either they are indecisive and/or don't have 100% commitment to their own ideas - neither of which are positive attributes. – alephzero Apr 10 at 13:12
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If a corporation truly thinks you are valuable, they can demonstrate that through remuneration. Anything else is smoke and mirrors.

Brazil is a very heavily regulated nation for IT, so mobility isn't what it is in other nations. Consider very carefully the offer for the FT job, and don't take the promises of a better future at your current employer to be anything more than air.

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    However also be aware that the new job might not turn out better (besides the written offer) – eckes Apr 9 at 23:35
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    For someone who's not familiar with Brazil IT industry, can you elaborate more on lack of mobility/IT regulation in Brazil? – Ruslan Osipov Apr 10 at 17:59
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    @RuslanOsipov I am Brazilian programmer and never heard of it. Maybe because 1 month notice is always required for both sides? – lvella Apr 11 at 13:34
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IMHO, you should look out for yourself; no one else will.

Having a concrete offer is much more valuable than theoretical improvement some time in the future.

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Should I consider "promises" when evaluating where I should work (assuming that my managers are honest)?

Only you can evaluate what such a promise is worth. If the same managers have made promises to you in the past, or have made similar promises to other interns on the team, and have delivered on them, you might decide that there is a good chance that the thing being promised will come true (but it is still not guaranteed). On the other hand, if there is no history of promises coming to fruition, there is no reason to believe that this one will.

That said, unless you really don't want to work at the other company, or what is being promised at the current company is both vastly better and extremely likely to actually happen, it is hard to see how a promise can be more valuable than an actual job offer. One of them is tangible, the other is just words.

Additionally, your statement that your managers

said they couldn't do anything right away, but did warn me that I was a very valuable component of the team and that there was a lot of opportunity to look after here

raises a red flag. A company isn't entitled to get software for "free": if the company cannot afford / doesn't want to pay (adequately) for software, they aren't entitled to get software for "free", by stringing along interns, overworking developer, etc.

This firm either has the money to pay you, and is choosing not to, or doesn't have the money. In either case, this is a bad sign. In the second case, where they are so cash strapped that they can't promote a talented intern to a Jr. developer, this is such a warning sign about the stability of the firm that you should be heading for the doors. In the first case, it shows a firm that is exploiting your efforts, extracting value from you with nothing in return, and will continue to do so as long as possible. Again, you should be heading for the exit.

Separately, I want to address this part of your question

I realized that there were other full-time developers working on way less complex demands and bringing less value to the company and the team than I was

I'm assuming you are new to the work force. There are two very important lessons a new employee, and a new developer, should know.

First, you cannot compare yourself to others. There is always going to be someone who makes more money, has a better title, has an easier work load, etc., than you do. It is just the way it is. If this situation makes you upset, or lose motivation, you will need learn how to manage those feelings, because you will encounter this situation everywhere you go, over and over again.

Second, "you don't know what you don't know". As a brand new developer, how do you know that what the others are doing is "less demanding" or bringing "less value" than what you are working on? Are you judging by hours spent, lines of code written, etc? because none of those are metrics of either the demanding nature of a job or the value produced.

To illustrate, imagine you, as a brand new developer, take a whole week to debug a problem, but a Sr. developer can debug the same thing in a hour or two. (which is a quite reasonable difference, given that new developer knows less about the system, is less familiar with the tools, and has less experience debugging these kinds of problem before, etc.). Was the work of the new developer "more demanding", was it "more valuable"? Clearly not.

Or take another situation, where the brand new developer spends a week doing some stressful work implementing 7 new features, but the Sr. developer spends a relatively relaxed week writing up a plan for how to extend the architecture and make the product more valuable. Whose work was "more demanding" and "more valuable"? In my mind, the Sr's, by many orders of magnitude.

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  • Thank you for your your answer. You touched a few points that I hadn't thought before. I know that value is difficult to measure, but, I felt that I was bringing more of it to the team when I was learning faster, delivering more, working on more robust and complex code and also having taks that require more responsability, like controling the deploy of a new version of our software, while other developers were doing online courses and browser plugins for 2 months... Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what unsettled me. – Jhonatan Apr 9 at 19:23
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First a note: in software industry, you cannot get too far without switching jobs. This has a reason, an employee working at the same position and team is often more productive than someone switching places often. This limits your vertical movement too. A good programmer will not be promoted to a manager. Thus, as a software developer, you should be comfortable with switching jobs.

To your question, 7 months of internship will not look bad on your resume. It is not a full-time job and an internship often lasts between 3 months to a year. Just to make sure, you may compare full-time salaries of both companies, if they are comparable, there is no reason to stay unknown amount of time as an intern.

However, there is one thing that you should be very careful about. Don't burn any bridges when leaving. You could always tell them you need the money now. You can also argue working with your friend is a big plus for you. Leave in good terms. If they ask some period before you leave, try to accept it (if your new employer can agree with that). Right now, they can employ you as an intern, they know this and will try to resist that change. But if you leave with good terms, few years down the road, with some experience under your belt, they might be willing to pay you what you are owed. Who knows, maybe the other company will not turn out to be better. In that case, you will have another door to knock.

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    This is confusing to me. Staying longer makes you more productive, so therefore be prepared to switch often? – jcm Apr 11 at 0:01
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    Not too often, if you only care about being productive you should probably stay put. But if you want to raise in ranks, you should move. Perhaps I should clarify when I meant switching places, I mean within the same organization, like moving to managerial position or even between teams. Noone wants to lose a productive programmer to management. – Cem Kalyoncu Apr 11 at 3:25
  • I think I get what your first paragraph means: "jobs" are assigned to productive teams, so even if you stay in the same company, in the same position in the same team, your "job" might evolve around you (e.g. new technology). Basically, you will always need to evolve or risk becoming extinct, even if you don’t switch companies. – Pam Apr 11 at 11:42
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    @jcm My read is that if you stay in the same company you will be come more productive at what you're doing right now...so the company will keep you doing that thing (in the same position) for as long as possible. From my experience, this is true, e.g. "I have been supporting X legacy application for $years now, can I move to a different team?" "No, no one else wants to support X and you already know what you're doing. Instead we will put a new hire on the team doing awesome new things." – user3067860 Apr 11 at 16:05
  • Exactly what user3067860 says. It doesn't have to as bad as supporting legacy work. But you would most likely become stagnant over time. – Cem Kalyoncu Apr 12 at 12:04
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For whatever reason - shortsightedness, bureaucracy, whatever... - they won't give you a regular job now. If they truly wanted to do so, they could. They would find the money, get rid of someone else to make room, etc. You have a real offer, take it.

Personal anecdote: My first real, big company, IT job (~ 37 years ago) was an unpaid summer intern, along with my evil twin. At the end of the summer, we got called into the manager's office and handed checks for a full summer's pay. Not a huge amount of money, but enough to buy a decent computer (they considered actually buying us a computer, but gave us money instead). Not surprisingly, we were invited back for the following two summers as paid interns. This was not your typical company - it was IT work in a non-IT, government related, corporation, and I know that bureaucracy was everywhere. But when they wanted to make something happen, they found a way.

You've clearly impressed your direct managers, but they can't make it happen themselves and they aren't ready to go outside normal procedures to make it happen. You found a better job - take it.

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Maybe it's considered normal in Brazil but I think it's strange and unethical in the first place that you have to intern first for about a year before being considered for an "actual" job.

Internships are supposed to be learning experiences that take place while you are still in school/university.

That being said, I think that unless you are so rich that work is just a hobby, it's hard to justify the choice to continue being an intern above receiving an actual salary right now.

So my advice is to take the other offer.

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    1. You are assuming the internship is unpaid, which is not mentioned in the OP. 2. You are looking at a fairly common internship scheme, internationally speaking, and saying "that's not the way they do it around here so it is wrong," which isn't super helpful. – mxyzplk Apr 9 at 17:46
  • 1 I don't necessarily think the internship is unpaid, however I do assume the pay is a fraction/peanuts compared to the salary of an actual job. (@OP please correct me if I am wrong about this). 2 I hope that by stating my opinion about this scheme the OP starts questioning the fairness of having to work for free/almost nothing for about a year before "earning" the right on an actual salary. Especially now that he/she has an alternative. – thieupepijn Apr 9 at 19:45
  • Internships are indeed learning experiences, but you're still supposed to generate profit to the company and payment really doesn't compare to a FT job. It's common practice in a few companies (in some areas more than others) to hold the intern as long as possible for that sweet underpaid working force. What made me think that I'm being underpaid is the fact that I was a more valuable professional than I thought I was, and proof of it is that another company wants to hire me without the intern learning period. – Jhonatan Apr 9 at 22:31
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    @Jhonatan, By the way, do not accept the other company's offer until you have the full contract in hand, plus any related employee manual if the contract makes a mention of it. Also, you may enjoy watching this video on "Internships vs. Junior Developer positions" youtube.com/watch?v=y7_lgg3IjZU – Stephan Branczyk Apr 10 at 4:50

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