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TRAPPED in my current job

  1. Jun 27, 2014 #1
    The situation:

    * Podunk tech job, do grunt work for a big tech company, through a staffing agency, no chance of any type of promotion and certainly no chance of getting hired full-time by the big tech company (It's just not something that ever happens). The only reason I'm staying with this job is for money and because I currently don't have anything I could transition to if I quit.

    * Difficult to set up interviews because I work in the middle of nowhere. An in-person interview would require me to take an entire day off work, and my staffing agency manager is stingy about letting me take days off.

    * Since my I graduated over a year ago, my "new grad glow" is gone and so it's harder to get considered for Jr-level programming positions (which is what I want).

    What advice do you have for me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2014 #2


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    Don't quit, that's my first bit of advice.

    Next, network within the company. Try to befriend and impress those people who could actually improve your career outlooks within the company. Don't become negative or associate with the haters.

    Apply for new jobs that interest you as they become available, leverage some of your former classmates in this. See where they ended up, what they're doing, if they enjoy it, ask for references, ect.

    Most companies will allow you to schedule an interview when you aren't working and unless you're getting a thousand offers a month, taking a day off here and there should be manageable.

    Look into some governmental agencies, most have programs to hire recent grads too. Your best bet here may be your former classmates and contacts however.
  4. Jun 27, 2014 #3
    I'm not allowed to use anyone in the client company as a reference, no one in the client company is allowed to offer me a job and I don't have access to the internal job listings. In fact, I have no association with anyone in the client company, except by email. There is no networking to be gained.
  5. Jun 27, 2014 #4


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    Are you physically located in the same place?? Surely there is some way to interact with them other than email.

    If so, just befriend them, then try to assist them after hours on a project sometime down the line. Making yourself seem like an asset to the parent company should be the goal.
  6. Jun 27, 2014 #5
    It's bizarre, I know. I have no physical interaction with anyone in the client company. I couldn't even tell you what color of hair my manager has. And yet I do work in one of the client company's buildings.
  7. Jun 27, 2014 #6


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    Well that kind of puts a damper on that. Are you still in contact with any former classmates?
  8. Jun 27, 2014 #7


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    Hmm, that's a tough situation to be in...

    One thing to consider is that you may be putting the cart before the horse. First you have to get an interview. Then you worry about attending it. Skype and teleconference interviews are common these days, so those might be some options for you. That might mean taking an extended lunch and bringing your laptop to work, but it should be manageable.

    Another option is to quit. Figure out your financial situation and save up some money so that you'll be able to support yourself if you are unemployed for a few months. Consider finding part-time work for example, just to pay the bills, so you can put some time into job-hunting for something that's more career-oriented.

    As a programmer, you'll want to build up your project portfolio. Perhaps you might look to get involved in some open-source projects and something could grow out of that. Also, I suspect a lot of programmers are able to telecommute these days anyway, so you could try to focus on those kinds of jobs if you can't tear yourself away from the middle of nowhere.
  9. Jun 28, 2014 #8


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    What kind of work do you do for the client company?
  10. Jun 29, 2014 #9
    Hit up your contacts hard. Are you in touch with anyone who has a job similar to what you want? Do they know anyone? Contact your former university's career center, they may also have some contacts for you. Work that network.

    Once you manage to get an interview, you can probably do initial interviews over the phone or via a web conference.
  11. Jun 29, 2014 #10


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    That doesn't sound too unusual. You are employed by the staffing company. If the tech company wanted to hire employees on its own payroll, it wouldn't be employing contractors.

    If you don't like the work you are doing or want to know about your promotion prospects, you have to take that up with the staffing company. But if you are working "in the middle of nowhere" and don't want to relocate, they might not have any alternative contracts for you.

    Yup, that's the deal you signed up for. Subcontractors get paid for working. You don't get paid to be sick, go on training courses, take vacations, or attend their grandmother's funeral on the other side of the country. On the other hand, if you want to quit, you probably have a very short notice period.

    Subcontracting is fine if the "rules" suit you. I know somebody who works 90 hours a week for 6 months of the year, and takes the other 6 months off. You can't do that in a full-time job! But if you want a long-term career progression as opposed to being paid by the hour, it's probably the wrong place to be.
  12. Jun 29, 2014 #11
    Basically, content management
  13. Jun 29, 2014 #12


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    A year out of school is still within the window of being considered for junior programming positions. I would start applying with other staffing agencies and be open to relocation. I would do this sooner than later since a few years of doing content management only will "degrade" your degree, meaning that companies will be less likely to hire you for entry level programming jobs when they can hire someone just out of school. I would also look within your current staffing agency to see if they have other programming type jobs with the same client.
  14. Jun 29, 2014 #13
    Very true, and the tech company is infamous for its use of contractors.

    The primary reason they have me working in the middle of nowhere is cheap office space, but I believe a secondary reason is that they know it makes it logistically difficult to jump ship

    In particular, paid by the hour, meaning the staffing agency wants to bill the client for exactly 40 hours per week (no more because overtime has to be approved by the client).

    That about summarizes it.
  15. Jun 29, 2014 #14
    The problem with applying to other staffing agencies is that staffing agencies share contacts. I don't want word to get out that I am actively searching for other jobs; else they'll pre-emptively replace me.

    That is my main fear. However, I did do development for about 1 month and I can "sell" my current job without being dishonest.

    Any indication that I'm dissatisfied with my current position will put my job in jeopardy.
  16. Jun 29, 2014 #15


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    One will have to make a decision about one's career, or career development. One can do a lot of homework.

    Look into professional organizations for opportunities, e.g., IEEE Computer Society



    One should attempt to establish some savings to enable one to survive one or two months, or more. As professionals age, it is often recommended to have a year's worth of savings (i.e., annual salary), just in case.
  17. Jun 29, 2014 #16


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    I'd describe the amount of savings better in terms of basic expenses: the minimum you need to live on (omitting "extra" expenses and making lifestyle adjustments) for six months to a year.

    If you have a friend or relative in another city who can put you up for a few months while you hunt for a job there, that could help a lot.
  18. Jun 29, 2014 #17


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    I would save up a tiny bit of money, then quit, hop on a greyhound, and move to a big city where you think you'd enjoy living. Maybe you have friends or relatives you could stay with for a short time. Apply for unemployment ensurance while simultaneously looking for a McJob that will pay basic expenses. Start trying to line up interviews for desirable jobs.
  19. Jun 29, 2014 #18


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    You can't collect unemployment after quitting a job.
  20. Jun 29, 2014 #19
    In my experience, this is how employment in many science jobs pans out. Companies these days treat scientific talent like expendable trash and do a ton of staffing through temp agencies in order to circumvent having to spend money for health care, 401 k contributions, and paid vacation while employing people to do the work that they want for low pay with the option of easily letting you completely go whenever they want. Many younger people are now quite familiar with the whole 'permatemp' gig companies pull off these days.

    The only advice I have to give is to definitely start looking around and quit when you have the chance. Young scientists need to try avoiding the whole permatemp gig all together if they can. Companies will promise and promise and promise to get you hired and claim that they are employing you as a temp to feel you out to see if you'd make a good fit, but many times permanent employment never comes to fruition. Save 3 months worth of money and quit instead of wasting time. Before you know it, you'll be 30 and realize you've never had a stable career your entire life and are still on the bottom rung.

    This is the future economy in the US of A. Workers will be employed as disposable temps. Vacation? Sick time? Retirement funds? Company health care? Laughable. If you want to take a vacation, you'll have to save double--money for the trip and money to compensate for no longer being paid to take time off.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  21. Jun 30, 2014 #20


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    That may be the case in the US, but not necessarily true in Canada; in Ontario (where I live), under certain circumstances, one could still quit one's job and be eligible to collect employment insurance (Canada's term for unemployment benefits). Typically, you would have to work a minimum of a certain number of hours within a year or two to be eligible however.
  22. Jun 30, 2014 #21


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    First of all, what you describe above in terms of temp staffing isn't restricted to just science jobs, but to many fields of employment, and given the weak state of the economy since the Great Recession of 2008 (driven by a collapse in the real-estate bubble combined with massive failures of the financial institutions), and given how it took over a decade before the US economy recovered from the Great Depression of the 1920s (which was also precipated by a collapse of real estate and banks), the US may well have to wait until 2018 before significant growth in full-time employment may be available at levels prior to the recession.

    Second, "permatemp" gigs you speak of may not be such a bad deal if one doesn't have a lot of experience in the work force, as it provides an opening to gain real-life work experience. While one shouldn't rely on companies to necessarily provide temp people with full-time jobs, it does provide experience one can put on a resume, plus give networking contacts with the client companies. I agree that the longer that one shouldn't in these positions for too long though. My recommendation is to constantly send out resumes and network while on these gigs.
  23. Jul 3, 2014 #22
    You're still well within the confines of a new grad if you only have a year or two of work experience. Our company had a restriction that we could only hire new grads, but my boss was able to hire new people with a few years of work experience despite that restriction.

    I got hired once for a 6 mos contractor position with just a phone interview. I had a few years of work experience and a graduate degree. That was back in '93; I'm not sure if that's done anymore. You could send out your resume and once you make contact with a company representative over the phone, explain your situation. They may make accommodations for your circumstances.

    You could also consider graduate school. An advanced degree would help you to escape a low-end position and seek higher ground where you might be happier. I managed to get through grad school without any loans through a combination of savings, TAs, and summer jobs. I did not have stellar undergraduate grades.

    There are a lot of opportunities out there for someone in your position, you just have to push yourself to find them.
  24. Jul 3, 2014 #23


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    Not sure if that is the case. I have worked with several staffing agencies/recruiters and they do not typically share contacts. They compete with each other to fill positions so it makes no sense for them to help their competitors
    Was the development job temporary?
    If you are just out of school and do not have family responsibilities, now is the best time in your life to take risks. You may have to move if your local area does not have opportunities. Put your resume together and send to recruiters in other cities. There is a lot of demand for developers.

    What is your degree in?
  25. Jul 3, 2014 #24


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    All true, except the last part, at least in the tech sector (software). Now is one of the best times to get a software positions as there is a huge amount of demand. Unemployment among software developers is among the lowest in any industry.
  26. Jul 4, 2014 #25
    It was the same job I have, but I get shuffled to different divisions. For a little while I was doing actual web development although no programming involved. Would like a software development job, if possible. Previously, I had made it to the final interview rounds for a couple software development positions, one for the state government and another for a big-name ecommerce company. So I'm close to being qualified for a level-1 position, I think. The problem is that the definition of "Junior" and "Entry-Level" keeps getting raised. I recently saw a Junior Software Engineer position that required a minimum of 4 years of professional experience.

    Mathematics. (Cue in everyone saying "There are tons of things you can do with a degree in Mathematics! Companies need Math majors! There's a shortage of STEM workers. Etc." yea, right lol).
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