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I am starting a new Software Engineering position in a month or so, but, the manager I will be reporting to added me to the repo of the current codebase of the software I will be working on when I start in my position.

I will be rewriting the software in a different language and framework and I am super excited. Last week during my off-hours and over the weekend, I was able to replicate the basic structure of the entire application and really want to talk to the manager about what he'll like to retain from the old app and new additions he has in mind.

My current job and my new job are all within the same higher education with little to no interaction between both managers.

If you are a manager, how do/would you handle cases like this, where a new recruit works in their off-hours on a project they will eventually do when they officially start in the position? How does this sort of attitude come across to you, generally?

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  • what does the same higher ed mean? – Kilisi May 3 at 14:05
  • higher education – hello May 3 at 14:13
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    If I was the manager, I would wonder why anyone not employed by the company yet has access to the source code. – Abigail May 3 at 18:02
  • I work in the company already, but a different department and I only have read access to the repo. – hello May 3 at 20:16
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    "new employer" (as used in the question) and "different department" are very different things with very different answers. Unfortunately I don't believe you can edit your question to clarify that as it already have answers... Consider checking on meta what you should do... Asking new question may be the right way to actually ask what you interested in. – Alexei Levenkov May 3 at 20:39
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Nothing wrong with what you're doing. Boasting about it may come off as arrogant or something else negative, or maybe not... there is no way of telling.

What does guarantee you a positive impression is to keep it quiet and then when you do start working you have a good headstart and some of the planning already done. This will make you look very efficient and keen. Anytime you can give yourself an edge for the critical first impression stage is great for you. Doing extra to make that happen is not silly, it's investing in yourself.

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  • "Nothing wrong with what you're doing." Beware the content of the current contract, especially when there's overlap between the two businesses' sectors. But you are correct that if not explicitly addressed, there's nothing wrong with doing this on your own time. – Flater May 3 at 16:58
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Do not do it.

More specifically, DON'T say anything to NewManager about it.

If you do that work to prepare you, fantastic.

But: do not commit anything and do not say anything to NewManager at this point.

Maintain a professional, serious attitude.

Act like a serious professional in the last days of your current role, focussing hard on that.

really want to talk to the manager about what he'll like to retain from the old app and new additions he has in mind

Restrain yourself UNTIL your first start day. Then go for it.

If you are a manager, how do/would you handle cases like this, where a new recruit works in their off-hours on a project they will eventually do when they officially start in the position?

I'd just let them go, or find a way to get out of hiring them.

How does this sort of attitude come across to you, generally?

Amateurish. Non-professional. Non-businesslike.


Allow me to emphasize that preparing is really smart. Before a new project, I bust my ass on the new technology - and then pretend to be all cool about it on hour one of the project. Enjoy.

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    It also says "Please exploit me. I'm happy to work without compensation." – ColleenV May 3 at 14:38
  • Thanks for this perspective. I'll delete my draft email. – hello May 3 at 14:38
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    I am truly happy to have given an opinion. It's a real "worker's rights" issue. (A) As ColleenV mentions, very unfortunately it sets you off on the wrong foot. No matter how kind and personable the manager is - the only thing they are told 24/7 from ownership layer is "make more money from the workers". In some level and in some way, with that manager or others, it touches on you being an exploitable resource. (B) it's just "not professional" as I say; they want you to focus on current job, just as they will soon want you to focus on new job. Enjoy!!! – Fattie May 3 at 14:45
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While I agree with the other answers that using this as a "head start" (and keeping quiet about it until actually starting) is a good approach - that assumes it is 100% okay for your to have access to that code before you start your new position (if, for example, you were moving from one team to another inside the same organization, and where code sharing was allowed between teams).

If, on other the other hand, you were moving to another organization (etc.) there are a lot of pitfalls that could come by accessing that code before you formally start there. For example, let's say the new employer decides to rescind that job offer - having seen their code they might be able to claim that any similar work you do in the future (for yourself, or another employer) belongs to them, as it was derived, or even stolen from the code you accessed.

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  • Yes, the former is the case. There's a lot of code sharing within the organization and I already work for the organization. Some may consider this is a "transfer". – hello May 3 at 20:19
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If it is an off-hours, it is not a managers business

It is your time that you can spend in a way that you decide

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