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So, after working some random jobs I finally got to where I wanted to be - software development. I'm currently on my probation period but I can already see that it's getting increasingly more difficult to tell myself it's a good starting point for my career.

(As a side note, I do have the skills in my field, I'm not completely "green")

The main problem I have with the workplace is:

Our dev team is really small - and there is only one senior dev. But, he's the company's "magician" - anything related to IT, he must solve, even if it's "my e-mail client broke" situation. That leaves him with no time to actually help juniors like me to learn anything - for the whole time I am here, I was just basically said "Here's your PC, happy working" - and pretty much nothing after that. That would be more or less fine if I was just doing my thing - coding, learning, researching - I can do that on my own. However, as time goes by I spend less and less time writing the code, and more of what our senior is doing, which is basically everything but coding. I feel like I'm not gonna learn much here, and starting your career by wasting a year or two fixing e-mail clients or setting up Windows on PCs won't help me at all when I would change job. I also find it difficult to learn with all the interruptions.

There are also some minor issues I have, which together with the above part are pushing me towards leaving after my probation ends.

With that said:

  1. How do I, in an interview, explain my reason to leave that job after only 3 months? Is "lack of personal development" or "not enough opportunities to learn" an acceptable answer, or is considered badmouthing previous employer?

  2. How do I ask "I like challenge and doing my own research, but I would also like, since I am still a "junior" in experience, to receive help from my future senior colleagues" without sounding like I just want to have my hand held?

  3. When asked about salary expectations, can I set a number higher than what I'm currently getting? Will it not be seen as "I just want more money and that's why I'm quitting old job"?

marked as duplicate by The Wandering Dev Manager, Mister Positive, gnat, Snow, JasonJ Mar 7 '17 at 14:05

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  • @RoryAlsop what do you mean by lying? How would asking for more money be lying? – Ironowicz Mar 6 '17 at 21:08
  • Hmmm - oh, reading on a mobile device sucks. Hang on - I misread. – Rory Alsop Mar 6 '17 at 21:10
  • 3. Yes but you may not. 1 and 2. You could either tell that you didn't fit well the culture there or just mention it was not the challenge you were looking for. Now something important to put in your head is, having a Sr. around does not mean at all that you got yourself a mentor, as you said, he had tons to deal with... probably it is a wise thing to ask in your interviews, if they planned mentoring for new people like you get some traction quick. Life lesson: is not that bad if you do that quick move once, but that's it, once. – user49901 Mar 6 '17 at 22:23
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I remember similar feelings of disappointment in my co-ops and first job.

The sad reality is that very few companies are going to offer you real mentor-ship. The vast majority of times you're simply going to be presented with a problem, and told:

Fix it!

Senior devs are often paid more, and are expected to put fires out, not babysit the newbie (companies want to get the most bang for their buck). Furthermore, not many of them have the social skills necessary to be good teachers anyway.

And so, always keep in mind that most often you're going to be on your own as far as learning new things goes. Don't think that you'll change companies, and all your problems will be over. Most likely you'll end up in a rather similar situation.

What I'm trying to tell you is that you shouldn't rush to leave a place before you really come to understand what it's offering you. I've found that even in my most boring co-op I still learned a lot. Your judgement of this company is pretty harsh considering you've only been there 3 months.

That being said, some places have more potential to teach you new technologies and techniques than others, and once you realize that you've stagnated I encourage you to look for new employment.

Now on to answering your questions:

How do I explain leaving after only 3 months

In your particular case I would simply say that the company was a "bad fit". There's lots of questions on this site which can help you refine that into a more developed answer.

When I left my first "real job", many interviewers asked me why I was leaving "so soon". My reply was something along these lines:

I love challenging myself, and learning new things. Your job posting came to my attention, and it sounds like a great opportunity to grow as a developer. While I'm not dissatisfied with my current job, the position you're offering simply seems like such a great opportunity to grow, and learn new things that I just had to apply!

This doesn't work too well when you're essentially leaving before your probation is even over, however.

How do I ask for mentor-ship without sounding like I just want to have my hand held?

The interview is a chance for you to asses the company just as much as it is a chance for them to evaluate your skills. I always ask companies what resources they make available to their developers:

What resources do you make available to your developers in order to help them grown and learn new things? Do you offer any opportunities to attend lectures, or conventions?

No one likes saying "nothing", but you'll get an awful lot of answers which essentially boil down to "an internet connection". At that point I might ask if they'd be willing to pay for some resources such as memberships to tutorial websites, etc.

You can also inquire if they've got a review process in place:

What's your development process like? Do you guys have any code review processes in place? Do you offer junior developers mentor-ship and guidance?

Can I ask for more money than what I'm currently getting?

Never, ever give out your actual salary. When asked "how much do you make", I answer:

That's a very personal piece of information, and I'd rather not disclose the amount, however I can tell you that for the position you're advertising I'd be interested in earning in the neighborhood of $X.

You can try the less confrontational:

For the position you're advertising I'd be interested in earning $X.

Or, just avoid the awkward "I'm not gonna tell you how much I make, mind your business" conversation and lie:

I make $Y

Where Y = X (the amount you'd like to make) + Z (the amount they'll short-ball you by)

  • As I said - it would be pretty fine I all I did was researching a coding problem, learning and adapting "on the go". While senior help would be nice, I can accept working on my own if I have no interruptions to do stuff not related to my job - I spend maybe half the time in the job coding, the rest is fixing some random problems that shouldn't even be asked of me to fix. When asked in a year "So you have a year of experience, what did you do in that time?" I would rather not answer "I troubleshooted everyday pc problems, oh and I did a bit of coding". – Ironowicz Mar 6 '17 at 21:33
  • @ironowicz - that's a legitimate concern, in which case keep looking for a new job. The smaller the company is, the more likely you are to have "developer" conflated into "IT support". – AndreiROM Mar 6 '17 at 21:38
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In terms of explaining leaving, well, there is no hiding that you have only been there three months. Think about any negative impressions that will give an interviewer and think how to counter those. If you say that the work was not what you expected then you should show that you have really done your homework on the new company. Before applying ask if you can visit the site and chat to an employee in a similar role over or shadow someone. Then you can show you've learnt. In an interview or application you can say "it was my first post I was a bit naïve in the description they gave and it wasn't a good fit, but I've spoken with Jeff and Janet on your team - they're working on project VIAPort, which is exactly the kind of work that I'm looking to do, especially the work dealing with..."

Now you look very keen to an employer, have put yourself head and shoulders above other applicants, and probably most importantly you can make a good decision about whether you want to be in that company because you are well informed.

Don't ask for mentoring. Ask about progression in the company, ask about the skills they are looking to expand in beyond what they have asked for in your role - "Jeff said you will be looking to start developing plugins for XXX. That's rather a different direction, will there be opportunities to move that way in the future, I have some experience with that but I would love to take it further. How do you go about training your developers when you expand like this?" Talk about where you would like to be in a few years and the skills you wish to gain and about how they match with upcoming projects the company has that you found out about from Janet and Jeff. But don't forget you are not at uni anymore, you are being paid to do a job. You should be clear that you have the skills to do the job that is being advertised, otherwise they'll give it to someone else who does make it clear. Phrase training questions in terms of progression within the company beyond the role you are applying for.

I've never had to deal with salary negotiations. So I can't help you with that.

Also don't forget. The grass often looks greener on the other side. Make sure it really is before you jump.

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