I work as an Android app developer in a small software company right now at the position of an intern. Its already pretty frustrating for me as I am highly underpaid for the work I am currently doing in the company. On top of that my boss asked me if I will be willing to work on a non official side project for his friend. Like a respectful employee I say I can only devote weekends as I feel it would be super tiresome if after spending 8 hours at the office I do more work when I reach home.To this my boss replies I should be working my ass off day and night as I am just 21 years old. I have 2 questions.

  1. Is my boss correct? Should I be really working day and night even if I dont feel like but just because I am young? Am I being completely unreasonable when I say that I dont want to kill my social life and all the time I have after office and on weekends which will go to work on the side project? Not to mention I might just turn blind soon after staring at the computer screen all the damn time. I am passionate about coding but I dont want to do it to an extent to which I start hating it.

  2. Lets say somehow I say yes to the project, how much should I be charging for something like this? I know its a very vague question but I really dont know how to charge for a freelancer project like this. Also since the client would be my boss's friend things might get super uncomfortable.

Need guidance on this urgently.

P.S. I cycle to work and back that makes me tired enough to get a good sound sleep at night. If I take up the project I will need to kill my cycling as the last thing I want to do is to do coding in a sleepy state.

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    How will that help?The problem is not with the legalities involved. @prusswan
    – rage
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 6:21
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    There also have been studies detailing that having a programmer work more then 40 hour weeks actually results in negative productivity, aka so many more bugs are introduced so that it takes more time to fix them then you gained by working overtime.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 6:31
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    The link was super amazing @Migz. THANKS! Right now I balance my work and social life to an extent I am not depressed and I certainly dont want to test my limits and risk being unproductive. This is my first question here, I am pretty overwhelmed with the responses.
    – rage
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 6:33
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    Because I've been in your shoes... I would strongly advise you to leave this company at once. Your boss is shamelessly taking advandage of you.
    – Sidius
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 7:36
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    And do have confidence in yourself. The fact that your boss wants you to work on a weekend project is a good sign that he values your current work as a professional (even if he's unwilling to go to bat for you to get real pay). So if you're a competent programmer, finding another job (a real one) should actually be much easier than expected. And again, definitely do not go through him to get one. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 8:39

3 Answers 3


Is my boss correct? Should I be really working day and night even if I dont feel like but just because I am young?

No, and that notion is stupid. I wouldn't engage in any side projects (and not devote weekends, wtf) unless it was directly mandated by the company and paid appropriately. Whether or not you are young has no bearing on the value of your time, and you work to live, not the other way around.

That being said (that was the feelgood part) your boss obviously sees it differently, so unless you are willing to find another job, it could be that your opinion on the matter is of little concern. Generally speaking, unless you have a quite strong negotiating position (so definitely not as intern) don't expect to get away with any form of insubordination if your boss already has such a mindset.

Lets say somehow I say yes to the project, how much should I be charging for something like this? I know its a very vague question but I really dont know how to charge for a freelancer project like this. Also since the client would be my boss's friend things might get super uncomfortable.

I would not engage in this. There are many possible problems in taking this project up, including:

  • The company might think you are short-changing them because you spend energy (on weekends you should be resting instead) on another project
  • Non compete clauses may be a thing and if you violate them even on request of your boss that could be used to fire you later and deny you benefits
  • Turning off your social life and working all week has usually devastating effects on happiness and mental health.
  • The rest of your life is more important then pleasing your boss

If your boss acts in a retaliatory fashion against you for rejecting this project, it is probably worth consulting HR in your company about it. They may take issue with your boss even proposing such a thing, especially if it violates internal company policy (You could easily consider that poaching, for instance).

  • My boss is being pretty chill about it, thats not a concern. Im just caught in a conflict where doing all this approved freelancing will help me grow a lot but on the other hand might give me an uncontrollable depression. But I feel only I can solve that... Thanks a lot @Magisch. Your answer was something exactly what I was subconsciously looking for, Ill wait for a while before marking it accepted.
    – rage
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 6:19
  • My boss came over to my cubicle and a had a little chat about it. By the time he left "Sir, you work to live, not the other way around." were the words ringing in his ears. Thanks @Magisch
    – rage
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 21:58

I will approach this from another perspective and it really depends on your temperament whether this applies to you or not.

Should you work extra if you don't feel like it

No is a perfectly acceptable answer, but here's my take on it and the reason I worked two or three jobs sometimes.

Firstly the money, you say you're underpaid, and interns don't tend to make a lot.

Secondly and in some cases more importantly, the networking, you have a chance to impress someone with your skills. This could mean more side work in the future, and 'glowing word of mouth' about you. I have had what started as side jobs, end up earning me more than my fulltime.

The fallacy is that it's easier to do when you're young, yes it is if it's physical work (maybe). But in reality quite often experience actually makes it easier. I'm also unsure on the biking bit. I commute an hour each way on a bike. I find that the physical exertion tires me physically, but gives me a second wind mentally and I work every night and have done for years.

However I'm not actually a developer in that developing is my sole occupation, so the mental stress of just doing one thing might be different.

  • +1 for mentioning that physical exercise helps with knowledge working. Thats definately the case.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 7:21

Is your boss the sole owner of the company, or is he a part owner and/or an employee of the company?

If he is the company owner, he can ask you to do anything he likes. It's his company. That doesn't mean you have to do everything he asks, but he can ask. If your boss is for example the person running the software development department in your company, then he is widely overstepping the mark. He has no right whatsoever to ask you to do anything outside the company.

Apart from that, you should be working the hours that your contract states. Which is forty hours a week, maybe less. If he wants more work, he should pay you overtime if you accept this.

But what your "boss" is asking for is absolutely stupid. There have been studies about how working hours affect productivity. And the fact is: Forty hours a week for a knowledge worker like you is about optimal for productivity. Experiments showed that one person working 40 hours a week for six weeks produced the same results as another person working 48 hours a week for six weeks - the difference was that the first person was still fresh and productive after those six weeks, the second one isn't.

So if you were stupid enough to work on this side project on the weekend, your boss would get less work out of you during the week. Which will be bad for you, since he doesn't seem to be the brightest spark.

I suggest you say NO, you do what you can to cut down your weekly work to normal hours, and you start looking for a company that is run by someone with a bit more sense.

(My favourite quote from a manager at Microsoft: "You can make people be at work for more than 40 hours a week. You can't make them work more than 40 hours a week". The guy reported that he increased productivity by sending people home.)

  • That's a great quote from the manager at Microsoft. Can you provide a source for it?
    – Kent A.
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 12:17
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    I think it might have been Steve McConnell in "Code Complete", published in 1993 by Microsoft Press. The book is somewhere in my garage somewhere within roughly a metric ton of books :-(
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 19:01

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