At the beginning of 2015, I started my gap year (a year I had planned for travelling and adventuring, starting immediately after I finished Grade 12). My plan was to start university in 2016 to do a computer science or software engineering degree. I had been doing freelance graphic design through high school but my parents did not consider it a "proper job" and so I was pressured into finding a "proper job", all the restaurants positions were full and that's when I stumbled upon something very interesting... The next day I went for an interview for the role of a graphic designer for a small online store, it was a full-time job (8am-5pm Weekdays Only) and changed the initial plan for my gap year (this was in February 2015).
Fast forward to now, my boss and I are working on a big project with big plans, my graphic designing didn't last long because we decided to start a new venture, I am currently working as a web developer alongside my boss. So far there has been one other web developer who has worked with us, he quit 3 months ago and since then my boss and I have rewritten the project in an improved way.
The workload is tough, I decided to put off university until the end of 2016, if the project is not showing real promise by then I am going to go and study and happily walk away with the experience I have gained. I am hoping the project will go according to plan and that by the end of this year we will be in Silicon Valley (currently in South Africa), might as well aim high, right?
Now I will get to the point of this post; my parents moved, I was presented with the option to move with them, to leave my current job & still be able to get another job and live with my parents with free food. I decided against this, I had and still have unfinished business & my boss told me I could come stay with him rent free, it was the perfect plan to see the project through.
Over the past 5 months, I have lived with my boss & his roommate, both academically qualified individuals (Law & Molecular Biology). They are older than me (30s) but I learn a lot from their past experiences and I really do enjoy the conversations we hold and have. I have no animosity towards either my boss and roommate, I consider my roommate my friend, but my boss has remained just that, and I don't think I am comfortable with it.
I don't want to make circumstances sound bad, they really aren't. I don't pay rent (I don't have a room either, though, my own space is confined to a mattress on the floor, in the corner of the lounge). I think it is worth mentioning that my boss's roommate does not pay rent either, and he has a room, which I completely understand since I got here after him, but there are a few things that I do not understand...
I don't get paid by the hour, I get $450 USD a month. (+-$1.6 USD per hour)
There are some expenses I have somehow become responsible for that I battle to justify to myself, they include the following, I have included the percentage of my monthly salary that each expense accounts for as a bold number in brackets:
- Milk for the office and home (5 people), we drink a lot of coffee. (7%)
- The actual coffee for the house and workplace. (6%)
- Electricity for home, it's summer here, my boss recently bought himself an air conditioner which he keeps in his room with the door closed, to himself unwilling to let it just cool down the whole house. This has pushed up the electricity price, am I unreasonable for not wanting to pay for my boss's air conditioner that he won't even share with his roommates? It's a small house, and the temperature sits at around 40 Degrees Celcius/104 Fahrenheit. My boss sleeps with it on at night and really just wastes electricity on a bill I am paying. (12%)
- Other random groceries like paper towels, dustbin bags, food sauces, the cleaning service that my boss orders (5%).
My Work & Sleep Hours
I really don't want to sound like I am being unwilling to work or lazy, but something that I really do not like is when we get home from work at 5pm, my boss takes a nap until 9pm or 10pm, and then it is work time until like 1am or 2am again, it really does bother me because I find it very inconsiderate as it is usually when I am ready to go to sleep because I would prefer to be fresh for the morning.
Why can we not just rather work when we get back from work and then have a proper sleep? Work hours are around 60-70 hours a week. I am free on Friday nights and Saturday, as well as until about 5pm on Sundays, then it is work time again.
Don't get me wrong, I am loving the experience I am gaining and I want to make the absolute best of it. But I also want to be able to perform at my best in terms of work. I feel like something needs to change because I am not happy with the way things currently are.
My boss told me at the start of the project that I would have a 20% profit share, this has never been reaffirmed and I have never asked since I prefer to take his word, if he doesn't keep it, I still walk away as a web developer before university. However, it would really be a hard one to swallow if I was kicked out upon success. I am confident in saying that I do at least 50% of the work going into the project.
I really would love to hear what you think of the situation from your perspective. I feel that it is worth mentioning that working like this is really the more difficult option compared to if I had just chosen to go to university, I am sacrificing my comfort for the project as I really want it to succeed but I feel like I am getting near nothing in return.