I have been brought on a team as a remote part-time contractor. Everyone is under high stress. I had a good working relationship with people on the team before, so I signed a full-time offer on the same team before starting my part-time contract, given the challenging job market in the my industry (tech) in 2024, in the US.

It soon became clear that the team dynamics are toxic:

  1. At least ostensibly, I am the only one who can deliver the hard things on the team, leading to disproportionate reliance on me. I find myself working weekends to deliver on tasks that others don’t, partly because it is suggested that I am the only one who can execute them. It feels like I am being punished for others' incompetence.
  2. For many projects, I handle both the planning and execution. I feel like I am performing beyond my level—as a new grad—with no proportionate reward. I’ve suggested letting other senior-level ICs take on more responsibility, but my manager, fearing the inability to deliver in this high-stress environment, keeps planning and execution on my plate. It's like I am a one-person team.
  3. I am significantly overworked. My contract is for 20 hours, but I consistently work 40 or more hours weekly. Coworkers notice, but I’m not sure anyone outside the team really understands the extent of this (e.g., my skip-level manager likely does not know).

I still like the people and feel a responsibility toward the project (why else would I work these hours!), but this has significantly betrayed my trust in the company and team. After contributing for a year, and as just a new grad, I’m seeking advice on how to exit without burning bridges. My manager tends to respond to my complaints with "but if you don't deliver this, then our team might not; we need this from you!" type of pressure. I doubt my skip manager knows how much I overwork. If I leave, my manager will likely have some degree of fear of productivity dip due to losing a competent person on team.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. I want to quit on good terms and renege on the full-time offer. Objectively, they have gotten much more than they paid for (20-hour new grad contractor outperforming 40-hour senior folks with full salary and benefits), but what the team has done feels like a betrayal of trust and has significantly affected my personal life.
  2. I’m not seeking compensation for my overwork. I just want to leave on good terms. It feels like everyone is acting in good faith but is just crushed by stress.
  3. I fear the power imbalance. I overwork and feel taken advantage of, but reneging might put me on their ban-list for future recruiting. It’s a hopeless feeling: I am the top performer, but I am way overworked and deep inside, I think they really should allow me a peaceful transition out because I believe I am being taken advantage of.

Any tips for a new grad new to corporate life?

(Edited to have be less egotistic. It might seem bizarre that I feel that I am a sole savior, and frankly I have seen much better senior-level ICs before and I felt that I can rely on them and get guidance from them. I guess I just have been unlucky and just seen a more mediocre batch :(. )

Edit 2

I know reneging is unprofessional. I am confused to some opinions about me just overworking myself. I complained multiple times to my manager and even told them something to the effect of "I am not a rockstar. You should not throw this much on me" but the tasks keep coming, and my manager now refuses to listen. Mind you this is a stressful workplace and if some OKRs don't get done my manager will also get a lot of pressure. My manager's pressure then translates to my pressure.

Edit 3

Thanks everyone for their input. It's been helpful for me to gain more clarity. I don't think it's a solvable problem (this is a workplace where overwork is rampant, but not 2x); I still think my manager has the responsibility to care for my mental well-being after my frequent pushbacks, but also it is time for me to stand-up for myself.

  • How will your compensation as a full-time employee compare to that as a half-time contractor? Commented May 12 at 2:09
  • 3
    Why are you working beyond the terms of your contract. You are working essentially for free.
    – Donald
    Commented May 12 at 2:20
  • This is problematic in a number of ways "I find myself working weekends to deliver on tasks that others don’t, partly because I am the only one who can execute them." Why are protecting these colleagues from management? Why are you so sure that only you can be the savior?
    – Peter M
    Commented May 12 at 2:39
  • @PeterM Good point. I am not the only savior but I am being brought as the last resort for a number of things. It is very problematic. I also feel like it's part of the management style. I suggested multiple times that the more senior ICs should take on more responsibilities but sometimes it is misinterpreted as me shunning the task.
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 4:08
  • 3
    @mino - You are a contractor. You only have to work what is in the contract. Enjoying the 20 hours of work is wonderful, but if you work more than those hours, you are essentially working for free. They are taking advantage of you. If they need you more than 20 hours then you should be compensated for that work.
    – Donald
    Commented May 12 at 4:31

3 Answers 3


As a contractor, you should be charging an hourly rate. And send them a bill with your hours worked, multiplied by the hourly rate. That's the professional way. And quitting if they don't py up is also 100% professional.


If you are sure you are going to back out of a full-time offer you committed to, do so IMMEDIATELY so management can start/resume searching for someone to take that slot.

You should expect people to be unhappy with you. In giving you that offer, they may have passed up other good candidates. And you're messing up their planning cycle. And, yeah, you are breaking your word.

But delaying only makes all of that worse.

HOWEVER, before taking that action, I suggest sitting down with someone more experienced whom you trust and discussing your experience and perceptions in much more detail than we can get into here, to make sure that the problem isn't that you, as an admittedly inexperienced worker, are misreading/misunderstanding the situation. New workers are somewhat notoriously at risk of making idealistic judgements which do not reflect the realities of the business or the profession.

  • Thanks for the answer. Yeah I agree I should notify now. Whatever they have done, they clearly should not overwork me by a factor of 2x (I don't think I misunderstood that part). But I think this speaks to the delicacy of the situation -- I need to communicate in a way that makes it clear.
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 1:05
  • 1
    They don’t have a gun to your head. You are overworking you by 2x.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented May 12 at 3:11
  • @mxyzplk Well I don't think that's fair. My manager is responsible for distributing work and I constantly get more workload than the other more experienced FTEs. That's not a fair work distribution at all.
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 7:00
  • 3
    @mino You are a contractor. No matter what the management gives you, you are responsible only for doing what you can in the allotted time. You are not responsible for finishing the work that would have you work more than the allotted time. If they want you to work more than the allotted time, they need to give you authorization to bill them for the extra time.
    – David R
    Commented May 12 at 14:38
  • @DavidR Thanks for the very clear-headed knock. You are right, and I am just being taken advantaged of. This is my first "true" gig
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 18:57

It appears that you produce quality work, at a low price. Because the people that control the budget only see you costing 20 hours a week, instead of 40 hours a week, you are a rock star in their mind.

I would fear that they will be expecting you to double your production because you have doubled your price when the next contract starts.

I want to quit on good terms and renege on the full-time offer.

Not going to happen. I am assuming that you can get out of the new contract. Even if you can cancel it, they will be upset. You may find that the company will not want to sign a deal with you again in the future.

It feels like everyone is acting in good faith but is just crushed by stress.

I disagree. Somebody in that management chain has realized that you are willing to work longer hours to produce whatever tasks you are being given. Their management style is to keep assigning tasks until the workers break.

I fear the power imbalance. I overwork and feel taken advantage of, but reneging might put me on their ban-list for future recruiting. It’s a hopeless feeling: I am the top performer,

Exactly what I have been saying. They may have even used phrases to make you feel that everything will fall apart if you don't work the extra hours.

In the long run you don't want to keep working excessive hours. So dial it back. Doing so will not cost you income because they aren't paying for the extra hours. If you can't cancel the next contract, then work 40 hours a week for them when it starts. They will either accept it, make your life miserable to try and increase your work load, or decide to not move forward with a follow on contract.

  • Thanks for the answer. I do agree that some higher up probably sees my impossibly high productivity in 20 hours. For 40 hours it is still high but no longer impossible. My direct manager knows how much I work. I also agree that it is mostly tactics (maybe workplace wide. This company is known to be toxic with ICs overworking)
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 19:01
  • I accepted the other answer because it was something immediately actionable and likely to be of direct value to other audience (stripped from my individual circumstances, but still true). FYI yours was more helpful to me because it is dissecting my own situation in a more detailed way.
    – user145884
    Commented May 12 at 19:11

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