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Should I leave my full time job for a contract position?

  1. Sep 29, 2015 #1
    Current situation:
    -$60,000/year salary
    - 10 days vacation + 5 sick/personal days
    - Health, Dental, Eye insurance

    What i like about my current job:
    • Camaraderie with other developers
    • If i have a question i usually have more than one person i can ask
    • Currently on the most important project + working directly with the CTO and another developer on this project. If this project goes well, i will be held in very high regards with my company and with our customer. Even if it doesn't go well, i still get to learn many things from the CTO
    What i don't like about my current job:
    • Working in .NET (i'm talking old school WinForms in VB.NET) but, there is a project on the horizon where newer .NET technologies will be used (WPF, Restful WCF services, MVVM pattern, etc. Most of us don't think this project will ever happen). I get the feeling that i am not getting the technical skills i should be getting so early in my career.
    • Most of our customers generally hate us (i have been on calls where a client says "well as much as i hate company X, let's hear what they have to say this time") because our software is full of bugs - our customers don't get rid of us because there really isn't another company in America that does what we do.
    • Team morale is like a roller coaster - especially when someone is leaving the company. Most of my co-workers have admitted that they are looking to leave.
    • Production issues non-stop - keeps everyone stressed out
    • Code base is 10 years old and absolutely rotten, impossible to debug, very fragile - makes change orders, features, and bug fixes difficult.
    • Employees have either been there 10+ years or less than 2 years.
    I have received an offer as a contractor for a start-up company making $36/hour. I may receive benefits from the recruiting company that set me up with the position. Things that i like about this position:
    • Work from home only
    • Working with Java, AngularJS, Ruby on Rails, etc - no .NET
    • The extra money is nice too but, not my main motivator
    Things i don't like about this position:
    • Working from home only means i won't be able to talk to anyone face to face when an issue arises. Working from home sounds cool but, i get the feeling that i will feel isolated from the rest of the team at some point.
    • Worried that after my contract time is up i will be let go and without a job at all.
    I am currently in graduate school and will graduate in may of 2017. Once i earn my degree i plan on moving to another state for personal reasons so i do not look at either of these jobs as long term positions. I'm 25 don't have children, split my living costs with my girlfriend, and i have about 3 months of living expenses saved. The most important thing to me in these next two years is to gain as much technical experience as possible (programming languages, frameworks, etc).

    What would you guys do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    So the main things you would lose in moving to the contract position would be healthcare benefits and job security, right? What is your plan for picking up your own healthcare costs? How much of the increased salary will be eaten up with those self-insured healthcare costs?

    If/when the contracting job ends, is it pretty easy to pick up other work while you finish out your schooling?

    I think if I were at your current work and wanted to try to stay for a while (especially given that you sound like one of the superstars there), I would look at proposing some initiatives to fix the problems you mention. Improving the System Test group would be one (you do have one, right?), and expanding the Customer Support/FAE departments may be of help. The software may be too broken/buggy to fix, but it may also be fixable with the right person leading the effort. And leading the fix-it effort and showing how much extra business that brings in could mean pretty good bonuses or promtions.

    But since you indicate that you plan to leave in a couple of years anyway for personal reasons, that may not be the right plan for you. But if you have the ability to make that happen for your current company, you still may be able to translate the improvements into bonuses of some sort.

    Best wishes in either path you choose... :smile:
  4. Sep 29, 2015 #3


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    Science Advisor

    $36 an hour sounds low, given the lack of job security and benefits. If I were you, I would tell the contract company that you'd like to take the offer, but the pay is too low given that you lose job security and have to pay for your own benefits. If they up their offer, then you're all set. If they don't, stay where you are. If you follow this route, have a number in mind in case they ask "What would it take?"
  5. Sep 29, 2015 #4
    Many places still use WinForms, and .NET is a great platform to work with. I understand wanting to get away from VB, though.

    What's stopping you? If you want to learn new tools and techniques, then do it. You don't need permission from your employer.

    This is true of many professional code bases. Do some refactoring when you're adding new features or fixing bugs. Also, read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Working-Effe...keywords=working+effectively+with+legacy+code

    I would choose .NET over those any day of the week. However, it's a bit of a toss-up since you're using VB.

    I suppose this is mostly dependent on the type of developer you are. I wouldn't feel isolated at all. I'd be able to get more done.

    I think it makes the most sense to just stay put.

    I agree with you about the importance of gaining technical experience. I disagree with you about what that means. Learning to new languages and frameworks is something you should be able to pick up at any time.
  6. Sep 30, 2015 #5
    What is the old saying about changing the devil you know for the devil you do not know? In any event your present job is temporary and predicable. You have no idea how the new job will affect your ability or desire to finish your degree. Your main concern is getting the degree and your present job is really an impetus to finish your degree.
  7. Sep 30, 2015 #6
    You write this as if this is the only offer worthy of consideration. Have you actually looked for work in other places?
  8. Sep 30, 2015 #7


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Decisions like this can certainly be tough.

    Remember that no job is without it's problems and politics. When you jump ship and start something new, effectively you're rolling the dice.

    In my view if you've got something that's stable and that you're reasonably happy with, you are in a position where you need very clear evidence that you'll be getting a better deal if you leave. If it's a toss-up, like Gleam said, it's better to go with the devil you know.
  9. Sep 30, 2015 #8
    Nothing is stopping me from picking up new skills other than time. Between my graduate courses and work i don't have any time left over to work on a personal project in order to learn new things. That's one of the reasons i thought that i might accept the offer - I would be able to work with many new technologies. I think that if i become better with my time management skills i can find time to learn new things.

    There were other offers that i declined because they were offers working at large corporations (banks mainly). I did this for two years and i hated it for many reasons. My current company and the company that i've received an offer from are both small companies where i won't get bored. I still have until the end of the week to make a decision but, right now i am leaning towards staying at my current company + make time to teach myself some new things.
  10. Oct 19, 2015 #9
    Hi guys,

    I ended up staying at my company and i've been working directly with the owner of the company (staying late every night, working weekends etc). I have learned alot and they are going to send me to arizona to work with one of our clients for about two weeks. I'm thinking of asking for a raise after that trip. The client in arizona has taken a liking to me and has trained me on two industry standard software systems that our software communicates with via web service calls. Nobody on my team knows how this software works except for me and the owner of the company. Anyway, i've made up my mind on asking for a raise but, i'm not sure how much. I want to ask for a $10,000 raise but, i realize that's way too much. What do you guys suggest i shoot for?

    EDIT: i also forgot to mention that had i gone with the other company, i would be out of a job for about 4 weeks now. So thanks to everyone that gave me sage advice!
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