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Background: I'm at the company since July 2016, and this is my last month of the timed contract. It's my first job out of college. Once the contract expires (on June 30th) I'm moving out of the city and starting an internship in a different industry.

There are a few things to wrap up while I'm still here. About two weeks ago I was told of two tasks, unrelated to each other, that I'll be expected to complete. It was implied (although not strongly, I might have misread) that I'll be spending this whole month completing the tasks and nothing else will be expected of me (except maybe training my replacement hire if we happen to overlap, but that's unlikely).

There's also an issue of vacation days - I have ten vacation days, which amounts to two free weeks. My boss doesn't want me to use them, he'd rather pay me the equivalent salary for the unused days (it's legal and standard in my country). I thought my boss takes such a stance because he understands the tasks will take up a long time, and I was okay with giving up a few vacation days in return for money.

However, this week the deadlines were significantly pushed forward (again, they weren't explicitely stated, but I expected them to be nearer to the end of June). One of the tasks was pushed on last Monday - when I presented initial results my boss replied that he expects me to wrap it up by next Friday (which was two days ago). Fair enough.

Then, on Wednesday evening the second task was pushed forward to the Friday, too. First he just asked if I'll make it - I replied that probably I won't. He wasn't at the office on Thursday and Friday, but on Thursday morning he sent an email in more direct terms - that I'm supposed either to complete the task on Friday or come to work on weeekend (he didn't mention the first task and I'm not entirely sure if he remembered I'm supposed to do that too). He's also not completely aware of the fact that one of my colleagues is not meeting the deadlines I negotiate with her - and her delays are slowing me down, too. Anyway, I came to work on Saturday and Sunday and completed the tasks, although not nearly as good as I would if I had more time.

I don't think that these tasks are urgent in their nature - they could be completed later. Also, both of them could be delegated to someone else - although I'm probably the most qualified to complete them. However, some additional time to work on them would be very beneficial in my opinion.

Now, my question is - am I in a position to ask my boss for reasons such strict deadlines were imposed? How to phrase such a question? Again - it's possible he never implied that I'll have the whole month to work on the tasks and I just misunderstood.

  • 1
    If you work in software - your whole life is deadlines. Explaining that there was some "tough" deadline issue (deadline moved, more expected of you before end, days missed - whatever) is about as exciting as mentioning "I used a computer today" :) It's completely normal and happens to every single software developer in every single role or contract. – Fattie Jun 11 '17 at 19:49
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    As you build more experience, you will know to "cut these things off early". Your story is too complicated to follow in detail, but at the first moment there was talk of finishing anything, you should have just instantly and reflexively said, "that's utterly impossible, you are out by man-years" and then produce a detailed memo PDF outlining classnames, libraries etc that have to be completed blah blah. This is just completely normal. Again at the first mention of such deadlines you should have started "18 months of work". The secret is to respond, "instantly", at the first mention. – Fattie Jun 11 '17 at 19:52
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    I'm not sure I can say I work in software - I mostly write code, but in a financial sector. It's useful advice nevertheless. – Jean Broc Jun 12 '17 at 11:15
  • Really I would just say your situation is "utterly normal - hardly worth mentioning!" :) Of course, obviously, as everyone has said they just "moved the deadlines" to hurry you along. Nothing to see here. (In your new job, I'll bet you five bucks a "deadline is moved" within, say, three hours of you being there.) Enjoy that new role in the world's funnest field! – Fattie Jun 12 '17 at 11:21
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Most likely the deadline has been pushed forward in an attempt to make sure you do the job before you leave. If the deadline was end of June and you leave end of June, then missing the deadling by a day means the job won't get finished. If the deadline is 15th of June, that means you can miss the deadline by two weeks and the job still gets done before you leave.

Now if that seems to make no sense to you, that's because it doesn't. Whether you finish or not doesn't depend on your deadline. But that's the way some managers think. To you, it doesn't make a difference. You are leaving at the end of the month, whether the job is finished or not.

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If I was a manager I would prefer if you got the job done before you are leaving. The cost of getting somebody up to speed to complete them is quite high.

It is cheaper for the company to get you to finish ahead of leaving and pay for you to spend two weeks where you are picking your nose ad surfing the internet.

  • But where you put the deadline has no impact on when the work is done, so I'm not seeing how this would help. – Erik Jun 11 '17 at 19:52
  • They're just trying to squeeze the most work out of the guy: totally unsurprising. Part of being a programmer is you have to "give a bit" sometimes and do a little extra work; the OP is inexperienced so the OP is "giving too much". As I say above the secret is simply to say no "early and often". When the issue is first raised is when you state, that is utterly impossible, you are out by months. It's too late, even one hour later. – Fattie Jun 11 '17 at 19:54

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