I have joined a web agency half a year ago, and was immediately assigned a complex project that made several developers leave the company. Right now I'm working on that project together with a senior developer, and we are drowning in work, missing every single deadline. The said developer is planning to leave the company within a year, and I was told to make sure that by then I'll be able to take over this project, and that we would hire a new developer to help me out. I appreciate the trust that I am given, but I honestly feel that leading this project is way out of my league. I have already interviewed a few candidates, but none of them felt like they could replace my senior.

My ideas are:

  • Just take the chance and try to use it as a steppingstone for my career. This is my very first job in the field, so I don't feel confident about taking over a seniors work, but this feels like a big chance. I've already got a pay raise and was promised another one, so I don't think going the extra mile would benefit me in any ways, other than gaining experience.
  • Tell the company that I would need more than a man to continue developing this project. We actually have enough work for ~4 developers, but no one wants to work on it because it's complex legacy code, so this would be tough.
  • Abandon the project and leave the company. This way I can search for a job that is actually my level, and stop having nightmares about the project.
  • Leave the company and offer the client to start an inhouse development team for them.

What would you do in my position?


Ask for the resources you need to do the work successfully, or give up. But don't set yourself up for failure. If they won't give you the resources, then decline the job. It seems like a straightforward project management scenario to me.


Of the choices you presented, this seems the best:

  • Tell the company that I would need more than a man to continue developing this project.

Whenever you take over a new project, you owe it to the company to assess the situation anew.

You need to look at the tasks at hand, the schedule, the expectations, your abilities, the people you have working with you, and the options available.

You may conclude that you need more help, more time, a change in expectations, or perhaps all three. Or you may conclude that you aren't good enough professionally to lead this project. Tell your manager up front what you see.

You ask for what you think you need. Then you find a way to deal with what you are actually given, as best you can.

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