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Search - "terrible jobs"
When I opened my digital agency it was me and my wife as developers, I had no savings and I needed to get long contracts ASAP which luckily I did straight away.
Lovely client, had worked for them before as a consultant so i thought it would be a breeze. Let's just say the project should've been named "Naivete, Scope Creep and Anger: The revenge".
What happened is that when this project was poised to end I naively thought I would be able to close the job, so I started looking for a new full time consultancy gig and found one where I could work from home, and agreed a starting date.
Well, the previous job didn't end because of flaws in my contract the client exploited, leaving me locked in and working full time, for free, for basically as long as he wanted (I learned a lot the hard way at that time) and I had already started the new agreed job. This meant I was now working 2 full time shifts, 16 hours per day.
Then, two support contracts of 2 hours per day were activated, bringing my work load to 20 hours/day.
I did this for 4 months.
The first job was supposed to last one month, and I was locked into it, all others had no end in sight which is a good thing as a freelancer, but not when you are locked into a full time one already. I could've easily done one 8 hours shift and two 2 hours jobs per day, but adding another 8 hours on top of it was insanity.
So I was working 10 hours, and sleeping 2. I had no weekends, didn't know if it was day or night anymore, I was locked in my room, coding like a mad man, making the best out of a terrible situation, but I was mentally destroyed.
I was waking up at 10am, working until 8pm, sleeping 2 hours until 10pm, working until 8am, sleeping 2 hours until 10am, and so on. Kudos to my wife for dealing with account and project management and administration responsibilities while also helping me with small pieces of code along the way, couldn't have survived without the massive amount of understanding she offered.
In the end:
- I forcefully closed the messed up contract job and sent all the work done to another digital agency I met along the way, very competent people, as I still cared about the project.
- I missed a deadline on my other full time contract by 2 days, meaning they missed a presentation for Adobe, of all people, and I lost the job
- The other two support contracts were finished successfully, but as my replies were taking too long they decided not to work with us anymore.
So I lost 4 important clients in the span of 4 months. After that I took a break of one month, slept my troubles away, and looked for a single consultancy full time contract, finding it soon after, and decided I wouldn't have my own clients for a good while.
3 years since then, I still don't have the willpower or the resources to deal with clients of my own and I'm happily trudging along as a consultant, while still having middle of the night nightmare flashbacks to that time.2
I have seen it. They say it doesn't exist; just a story we tell our children so that their innocence does not lead them down into a nightmarish adulthood from which there is no salvation. But the evil lives. So vile that were you to look inside its soul, all you would find is a terrible desperation for suffering. To cause it. To revel in it. To bathe in the tears of those it considers less than human and feed off the emotional detritus.
It was 2009. The financial crisis. I was one of the lucky, having found refuge in a large company right before the jobs dried up. General IT: system administration, documentation, project management, telephony, software training, second level help desk. No software development, but with a two-year-old at home and Ph.D.s lining up outside the local Olive Garden whenever a help wanted sign was posted, I grabbed the health insurance and entered into darkness.
The Thing did not need to hunt it's prey. A manager title with 21 reports brought it new opportunities for fresh meat by the hour. But I was special. I resisted. I needed to know my place.
My first mistake was incomprehension. I did not understand the Thing's lust to be right at all costs. I was reviewing some documentation it had brought forth from its bowels. I mentioned that two spaces were being used between sentences. That proportional type made that unnecessary. It insisted, I was wrong. It insisted that Microsoft itself, the purveyor of all good technical writing, required two spaces. I opened the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications that it demanded its staff use and showed it that the spec was one space. It was livid. I was a problem.
From that point on my work life became exponentially more wretched. I was given three Outlook calendars to maintain: one with my schedule, one with the team's schedule and one with the Thing's schedule. Every time I had an appointment, I was to triple schedule it. If I was going to be away from my desk for more than 15 minutes triple schedule. Triple schedule my lunch, vacations, phone conferences.
Whenever it held a meeting, I and a colleague would be taken off mission critical IT projects to set tables with name tents and to serve as greeters as attendees arrived.
I was called into its crypt to be told never to say anything in a meeting unless I told the Thing beforehand what I was going to say. Naive, I mentioned that I often don't know what I will say as it is often in reply to someone else. Of course the response was that I should not say anything.
I would get emails 10-20 times a day asking about a single project. I would regularly complete work that was needed to be completed ASAP, only to have the Thing rake me over the coals for not completing it a week later. And upon resending the emails proving I notified it of the work being competed, disparaged at length a second time for not sending repeated notifications of the competed work.
I would have to sit in two-hour meetings to watch it type. Literally watch it try to create cogent thoughts. In silence.
I received horrendous annual reviews. At one, it created a development plan that stated a colleague would begin giving me lessons on the proper ways to socially interact with personnel. I pointed out to HR that this violated privacy concerns and would make the business liable in many areas, not least of which would be placing a help desk person in the role of defining proper business practice. HR made the Thing remove this from my review. She started planning to remove me.
I had given a short technical training to a group of personnel months earlier. Called into its tomb I was informed that feedback surveys on my talk were disturbing. One person stated that they did not think I was funny. Another wrote that I made an offensive statement. That person did not say what the offensive statement was. Just that I had said something he or she didn't like.
The Thing interviewed the training attendees. Gathered facts. Held three inquest-like meetings where multiple directors peppered me with questions trying to get me to confess to my offensiveness. In the end the request to fire me was brought to the man who ran the business at the time. The statement on high: "Humor is a subjective thing. Please tell This to be sensitive to that."
The Thing had failed, but would no doubt redouble its efforts. I had to find a new job. I sent hundreds of resumes. Talked to dozens of recruiters. But there were no jobs. And I had a family. And the wolf was at the door.
So I didn't say a word to the creature. For six months. Silence. At one group meeting it shrieked at me "what are you smirking at? If you've got something to say then say it!" I just shrugged. For my salvation was revealed. The Thing could not stand to be ignored. And at the end of my penance I was transferred to another group: Software Development.
I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.4
I'll use this topic to segue into a related (lonely) story befitting my mood these past weeks.
This is entire story going to sound egotistical, especially this next part, but it's really not. (At least I don't think so?)
As I'm almost entirely self-taught, having another dev giving me good advice would have been nice. I've only known / worked with a few people who were better devs than I, and rarely ever received good advice from them.
One of those better devs was my first computer science teacher. Looking back, he was pretty average, but he held us to high standards and gave good advice. The two that really stuck with me were: 1) "save every time you've done something you don't want to redo," and 2) "printf is your best debugging friend; add it everywhere there's something you want to watch." Probably the best and most helpful advice I've ever received 😊
I've seen other people here posting advice like "never hardcode" or "modularity keeps your code clean" -- I had to discover these pretty simple concepts entirely on my own. School (and later college) were filled with terrible teachers and worse students, and so were almost entirely useless for learning anything new.
The only decent dev I knew had brilliant ideas (genetic algorithms, sandboxing, ...) before they were widely used, but could rarely implement them well because he was generally an idiot. (Idiot sevant, I think? Definitely the idiot part.) I couldn't stand him. Completely bypassing a ridiculously long story, I helped him on a project to build his own OS from scratch; we made very impressive progress, even to this day. Custom bootloader, hardware interfacing, memory management, (semi) sandboxed processes, gui, example programs ...; we were in highschool. I'm still surprised and impressed with what we accomplished.
But besides him, almost every other dev I met was mediocre. Even outside of school, I went so many years without having another competent dev to work with. I went through various jobs helping other dev(s) on their projects (or rewriting them), learning new languages/frameworks almost every time: php, pascal, perl, zend, js, vb, rails, node, .... I learned new concepts occasionally (which was wonderful) but overall it was just tedious and never paid well because I was too young to be taken seriously (and female, further exacerbating it). On the bright side, it didn't dwindle my love for coding, and I usually spent my evenings playing with projects of my own.
The second dev (and one one of the best I've ever met) went by Novo. His approach to a game engine reminded me of General Relativity: Everything was modular, had a rich inheritance tree, and could receive user input at any point along said tree. A user could attach their view/control to any object. (Computer control methods could be attached in this way as well.) UI would obviously change depending on how the user could interact and the number of objects; admins could view/monitor any of these. Almost every object / class of object could talk to almost everything else. It was beautiful. I learned so much from his designs. (Honestly, I don't remember the code at all, and that saddens me.) There were other things, too, but that one amazed me the most.
I havent met anyone like him ever again.
Anyway, I don't know if I can really answer this week's question. I definitely received some good advice while initially learning, but past that it's all been through discovering things on my own.
It's been lonely. ☹2
Went on an interview and the woman literally counted out loud each minute that went by as I tried to write some code.6
So yeah, we released our app for 26k people to use two days ago. Due to circumstances not under our control, that was developed way faster than it should've. Today we're two days in and everything is going horrible. 26 thousand people are having trouble using it (not every problem is our fault, but ofc they don't give a shit) and our support team is not big enough to handle every request. We're not able to find any more people to help us handle it, so some developers are being used for support. But that slows the bugfixes a lot. We're at risk of losing our jobs because we will not be able to make it work in due time.
In Italy, at the beginning of the year a particular type of invoice became necessary and to handle that everyone needs a particular kind of email called "certified", you know, because Italy, and today our certified email server went offline for the whole fucking day because the provider was an overload of feces. We were overwhelmed by the amount of people that needed help.
I don't even know what to say, if we don't fix it we're fucking fucked, like literally.
I really hope everyone is having a nice new year. For us, this is going terrible.3
After 2 years at the uni with 6 programming courses, I stopped studying and started working.
So I kinda left with some expectation or demand for some level of standard, not the highest, but at least not expecting diarrea dog shit level of quality.
On my first jobs, I was pretty shocked with their outdated technologies, terrible workflows, insanely unsafe setups and vomit inducing management. I thought "this isn't normal, this shouldn't be happening"
After being for a week on devrant, I now think the opposite is not normal.1
So I enventually spent 2 years working for that company with a strong b2b market. Everything from the checkouts in their 6 b2c stores to the softwares used by the 30-people sales team was dependant on the main ERP shit home-built with this monstruosity we call Windev here in France. If you don't know it just google and have some laugh : this is a proprieteray FRENCH language. Not french like made by french people, well that too, but mostly french like the fucking language is un fucking french ! Instructions are on french, everything. Hey that's my natural language okay, but for code, really ?
The php website was using the ERP database too, even all the software/hardware of the massive logistic installation they had (like a tiny Amazon depot), and of course the emails of all employees. Everything was just handled by this unique shitty and so sloooooow fucking app. When there was to many clients on the website or even too many salespeople connected to the ERP at the same time, every-fuckin-piece of the company was slowing down, and even worse facing critical bugs. So they installed a monitor in the corner of a desk constantly showing the live report page of Google analytics and they started panic attacks everytime it was counting more than 30 sessions on the website. That was at the time fun and sad to observe.
The whole shit was created 12 years ago and is since maintened locally by one unique old-fashion-microsoft dev who also have to maintain all the hardware of all the fucking 150+ people business. You know, when the keyboard of anyone is "broken" cause it's unplugged... That's his job too. The poor guy was totally overstressed on a daily basis and his tech knowledge just saddly losts themeselves somewhere in the way. He was my n+1 in a tech team of 3 people : him, a young and inexperimented so-called "php developer" who was in charge of the website (btw full of security holes I discovered and dealed with when I first arrive at the job), and myself.
The database was a hell of 100+ tables of business and marketing data with a ton of specific logic added on-the-go during years. No consistent data model or naming. No utf8. Fucked up relations that ends with queries long enough to fill books. And that's not all, all the customers passwords was just stored there uncrypted. Several very big companies and administrations were some of these clients. I was insisting on the passwords point litterally all the time, that was an easy security fix and a good start... But no, in two years of discussions on the subject I never achieved to have them focusing on other considerations than "our customers like that we can remind them their password by a simple phone call if they lost it". What. The. Fuck. WHATTHEFUCK!
Eventually I ran myself out of this nightmare. I had a few bad jobs already, and worked on shitty software already. But that one really blows my mind (and motivation for a time too). Happy it's over.1
Juggling two jobs, both being 100miles (~160km). apart from each other: one working for a big VFX studio as a render wrangler getting paid peanuts, and one as Junior SDET for an electronics company. I lasted 6 months on the former as I couldn't handle the insane drive anymore, and stayed on the latter for three more years due to the higher pay and comfy environment. I was really hoping to make connections with the former, too, since I wanted to get into Game Development or into programming cool VFX shit for Hollywood at least. Alas, I digress.
After I got laid off, I took an offer from a small company as a Graphics SWE that happened to have a terrible reputation. Upon reading glassdoor reviews and a few days deliberating, I just told myself: 'fuck it, I need a job so bad,' and took the offer. Turns out that was the perfect time to get hired (all the previous engineers are gone). Hell, those guys did not even practice proper version control, there was no git/svn repo to be found, and all their projects were in hard drives scattered somewhere in their office. I was a bit astounded. All the knowledge the devs had of the framework the company used were salvaged from tons of uncommented, spaghetti code. It was like the entire future of the company was riding on me and the other new guy that got hired 1 week before for the same position. A year later, CEO promoted both of us, which tripled my salary compared to my QA job.
The year was 2006. During the first half of my career, I use to work in the NOC. This was before I made my transition to software engineer. I worked on the third shift for a bank services company. The company was on a down turn. Just years earlier they just went public, and secured a deal with a huge well known bank. Eventually they entered a really bad contract with the bank and was put into a deal they couldn't deliver on. The partnership collapse and their stock plummeted. The CEO was dismissed, and a new CEO came in who wanted to "clean things up".
Anyway I entered the company about a year after this whole thing went down. The NOC was a good stepping stone for my career. They let me work as many hours as I liked. And I took advantage of it, clocking in 80 hours a week on average. They gave me the nick name "Iron Man".
Things started to turn around for the company when we were able to secure a support contract with a huge bank in the Alabama area. As the NOC we were told to handle the migration and facilitate the onboarding.
The onboarding was a mess with terrible instructions that didn't work. A bunch of software packages that crashed. And the network engineers were tips off, as they tunnel between our network and the banks was too narrow, creating an unstable connection between us and them. Oh, and there were all sorts of database corruption issues.
There was also another bank that was using an old version of our software. The sells team had been trying to get them off our old software for over a year. They refuse to move. This bank was the last one using this version, and our organization wanted to completely cut support.
One of the issue we would have is that they had an overnight batch job that had an ETA to be done by 7 AM. The job would often get stuck because this version of the software didn't know how to fail when it was caught in an undesired state. So the job hung, and since the job didn't have logging, no one could tell if it failed unless the logs stopped moving for an hour. It was a heavily manually process that was annoying to deal with. So we would kill the JVM to "speed" the job up. One day I killed the JVM but the job was still late. They told me that they appreciated the effort, but that my job was only to report the problem and not fix it.
This got me caught up in a major scandal. Basically they wanted the job to always have issues everyday. Since this was critical for them, all we needed to do was keep reporting it, and then eventually this would cause the client to have to upgrade to our new software. It was our sales team trying to play dirty. It immediately made me a menace in the company.
For the next 6 months I was constantly harassed and bullied by management. My work was nitpicked. They asked me to come into work nearly everyday, and there was a point I worked 7 days with no off days. They were trying to run me so dry that I would quit. But I never did.
On my last day at the company, I was on a critical call with a customer, and my supervisor was also on the line. My supervisor made a request that made no sense, and was impossible. I told her it wasn't possible. She then scalded me on the call in front of customers. She said "I'm your supervisor, you're just a NOC technician, you do what I say and don't talk back". It was embarrassing to be reprimanded on a call with customers. I never quite recovered from that. I could fill myself steaming with anger. It was one of the first times in my adult life that I felt I really wanted to be violent towards someone. It was such a negative feeling I quit that day at the end of my shift with no job lined up.
I walked away from the job feeling very uncertain about my future, but VERY relieved. I paid the price, basically unable to find a job until a year and a half later. And even was forced to move back in with my mother. After I left, the company still gave my a severance. Probably because of the supervisor's unprofessional conduct in front of customers, and the company probably needed to save face. The 2008 crash kept me out of work until 2009. It did give me time to work on myself, and I swore to never let a job stress me out to that degree. That job was also my last NOC job and the last job where did shift work. My next few jobs was Application Support and I eventually moved into development full time, which is what I always wanted to do.
Anyway sorry if it's a bit long, but that's my burnout story.
I really hate recruiters. 90% of jobs via recruiters have been terrible where as 0% of direct hire (applying directly with the company; at most their internal HR recruiter) positions have been considerably better.
For my next position, I really want a direct hire. My minimum standard:
1) Direct Hire
2) No non compete clauses (see: https://penguindreams.org/blog/...)
3) Allow for my primary laptop/desktop to be Linux (see: https://penguindreams.org/blog/...)
Anyone hiring Scala, Elixir, Ruby, Python, Java programmers in Chicago?2
Overall, pretty good actually compared to the alternatives, which is why there's so much competition for dev jobs.
On the nastier end of things you have the outsourcing pools, companies which regularly try to outbid each other to get a contract from an external (usually foreign) company at the lowest price possible. These folks are underpaid and overworked with absolutely terrible work culture, but there are many, many worse things they could be doing in terms of effort vs monetary return (personal experience: equally experienced animator has more work and is paid less). And forget everything about focus on quality and personal development, these companies are here to make quick money by just somehow doing what the client wants, I'm guessing quite a few of you have experienced that :p
Startups are a mixed bag, like they are pretty much everywhere in the world. You have the income tax fronts which have zero work, the slave driver bossman ones, the dumpster fires; but also really good ones with secure funding, nice management, and cool work culture (and cool work, some of my friends work at robotics startups and they do some pretty heavy shit).
Government agencies are also a mixed bag, they're secure with low-ish pay but usually don't have much or very exciting work, and the stuff they turn out is usually sub-par because of bad management and no drive from higher-ups.
Big corporates are pretty cool, they pay very well, have meaningful(?) work, and good work culture, and they're better managed in general than the other categories. A lot of people aim for these because of the pay, stability, networking, and resume building. Some people also use them as stepping stones to apply for courses abroad.
Research work is pretty disappointing overall, the projects here usually lack some combination of funding, facilities, and ambition; but occasionally you come across people doing really cool stuff so eh.
There's a fair amount of competition for all of these categories, so students spend an inordinate amount of time on stuff like competitive programming which a lot of companies use for hiring because of the volume of candidates.
All this is from my experience and my friends', YMMV.
So the project I have been working on for the past 5 months was finally released yesterday with only very minor problems, this stemmed from both programming side, and users entering data incorrectly.
It has been a rather hectic 5 months. I've had to deal with crap like:
- clients not knowing their own products
- a project manager that didn't document anything (or at least everything into a Google Slides document)
- me writing both requirements AND specifications (I'm a dev, not a PM)
- developers not following said specifications (then having to rewrite all their work)
But the worst thing I think would be the lack of vision from everyone. Everyone sees it as a "project" that should be get it over and done with rather a product that has great potential.
So with the project winding down, and only very few things left to fix/implement. Over these 5 months I learned a lot about domain driven design, Laravel's core, AWS, and just how terrible people are at their jobs. I imagine if I worked with people who gave a damn, or who actually had skills, I probably wouldn't have had such a difficult project.
Right now I'm less stressed but now feel rather exhausted from it all. What kind of things do you to help with the exhaustion and/or slow down of pace?1
How do you think AI would affect our jobs in the far future? Would it really put us developers out of work?
I am keenly interested in topics like these.
Please share your thoughts or links to such discussions online.
I'd like to think that it would bring about some positive changes, at least in the short term. Something that would radically transform the way we work.
Do you think it is possible for us to have like a unified framework which is processed by some sort of AI. Every developer would only need to communicate to the AI what needs to get done by use of algorithms.
Or is that a terrible idea?1