Feeling Hopeless


I came across this forum a while ago when I was going through tougher times and it has been of great help. Things got a bit better after I started seeing a therapist, but not as good as I would like them to be, especially at work. I’m creating this topic because things took a turn for the worst last Friday and ended up quitting my job quite abruptly after a heated argument with my boss. This wasn’t the first time it happened, though. He has also singled me out in front of my peers on stand ups several times. Too many, actually. He doesn’t treat others the same way he treats me. Others miss requirements all the time, but he snaps if it’s me. All this has caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety and my boss and supervisor know it. On our last argument, as soon as my boss started raising his voice I stopped him and said that I didn’t appreciate his tone and language, and to find another one to do the work if he’s going to talk to me like that. He then said okay twice while pointing at the door, so I took my things and left. Some time later my supervisor called me asking if I had quit because he went to my desk and I wasn’t there. He was in the room when all of this happened. I told him that I don’t want to quit and wouldn’t have done so under normal circumstances. He then told me to send him an email indicating if I’m quitting or not.

I’m not sure about what to do. I was involved on a few projects that need to be completed within the next few weeks. I thought it would be fair to give them some time to find a replacement and complete the projects that are still pending. But I’m afraid my boss won’t accept these terms and fire me for leaving the office without notice. I can’t afford that to happen.

On the other hand, I have been thinking of leaving this company for a while, even moving back to where I used to live. In fact, I applied to a few jobs and started the interview process on 3 of them. Two of them are in the same city I live; the other one is in the state I used to live before relocating to where I live now. I’ve lived here for a year and a half and it has been hell for me ever since. I made the move because my girlfriend at the time wanted to start a business here and I wanted to be with her. I applied at a job here and got hired, so we packed our things and left. Long story short, things didn’t work out for me at that job, things didn’t work out for her with the business, and things didn’t work out between us. I took my current job because it looked promising at first, but it has been quite disappointing. Other than work there’s nothing keeping me in this city. I have no friends here, no family, no attachments, or anybody to talk to in my native language. Looking at the bright side, I’m making more money now, live in a nice neighborhood, there’s a lot of opportunities in what I want to focus, and the city is growing despite the recession. However, it seems like this city has a lot to offer only if you’re from India, which I’m not, and I feel like a fish out of water here.

Back to the reason why I started this topic, the owners of the company I work for are from India and so is everyone else in my team. Miscommunication has been an ongoing issue since English is not my native language and neither is theirs. I don’t know exactly how software engineers are treated in India, but I’ve heard it’s a lot different than here in the U.S. They definitely see software engineering a lot different than how I or other people I know see it. If I decide not to quit, I fear things won’t change for the better. If I decide to quit and work somewhere else in this city, I fear it will be more of the same since more than half of the software engineers within the largest employers here are from India. It is not my intention to sound like a bigot when I say this and I’m sorry if I sound like one, but I think the issues I have at work are more cultural than anything else because management in this company seems to be more lenient with everyone else.

I’m feeling hopeless! Should I jump off the sinking ship or should I stay and drown?

From what I have seen, Indian software engineering culture is heavily influenced by offshoring, where engineers are seen mostly as bruteforce, since there are plenty of engineers to pick from, unlike in the US where engineers might be a bit scarce.

Then, there are many things in play here:

  • Your company might be formed by foreigners but it is bound to federal and state regulations. Some of the things they are doing might be grounds for “constructive discharge” (i.e: forcing someone to quit), which is illegal… If they fire you, there might be grounds for “wrongful termination”. Labor laws exist to protect workers from abuse.

  • You need to be professional and demand to be treated professionally. Each company may have an HR department, which usually publishes an employee manual. If your manager is hostile towards you specifically for no apparent reason, that’s harassment. Collect evidence and treat it with HR directly. Then, if the reason for harassment goes against Equal Employment Opportunity laws, then you can file a charge for employee discrimination to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), from which it is illegal for them to retaliate against.

  • Not every place or job is a fit. It does not have to. There might be somewhere else where you can feel more connected to your community and job, it might take time to find but that is OK.

1 Like

Thanks for your advice @partycoder. I ended up quitting my job. There wasn’t much I or the company could’ve done to remedy the situation. It’s a small company and they don’t have an HR department. Everything HR related is handled by my boss, except for payroll.

I’m terrified of the consequences of my decision, though. I was laid off from the job I had before I moved to this city. I got fired from my last job, the one I got when I moved to this city. They hired me for a front end role based on my knowledge of AngularJS and other stuff, and they put me in a role that required different skills. I did my part to learn the skills required for the job, but apparently I didn’t do well on their evaluation so they fired me. And now this. That’s 3 times in a row that things haven’t worked out for me in less than 2 years. It won’t look good in a resume. Even if someone decides to give me a chance, it will be hard to explain what happened at my last jobs. I’m afraid of not being able to find a decent job because of this, and of ending up jumping from one shitty job to another without being able to save money for retirement.

Software development is all I know. I love what I do and am good at it. I know I have the skills and experience to be successful in my profession, but I feel like this is going to keep happening no matter what I do.

Best of luck on this transition, @elcabronazo!

I can understand the trepidation you’re probably feeling. I think there are ways to spin the Angular gig in a way that doesn’t negatively portray you or your past employer. More so just a mismatching of what they needed skill-type versus what you had to offer, etc.

Even after all this, it’s good to hear that you know you have the skills + experience for software dev AND that you still enjoy it.

If you’ve run into problems with communications amongst smaller teams, maybe a slightly larger company with a sturdier structure (and HR team?) might be a better fit? I don’t know the particulars about all your past jobs, obviously.

Happened to me too a couple months ago.

Our scrum master (who is not a dev) singled me out in front of the group and there was not much I could do except take the blame.

I really dislike scrum. When it’s done properly it can improve productivity and team morale but if the scrum masters/po’s lack experience… it can quickly become a grind… and it feels to me like factory work … as if i’m being treated like a mindless robot. It feeds the burn out cycle…

Best of luck with your transition

Thanks @monkeypatching. Both the CEO and CTO were devs, but the culture they are trying to create within their company for software engineers is that of an assembly line. Workers are not allowed to be creative and free thinkers are considered assholes. That’s the only culture they know. Part of the fun of being a developer is figuring out how to solve problems. At that company developers are not allowed to figure things out. They’re just given instructions on how to solve the problem and their job is just to write code because someone else has already solved the problem for them. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together WITH a set of instructions on how to do it. There’s no fun in that!

There’s a whole line of thought trending right now that portrays software engineering as the next blue collar job. Not long ago, I listened to an interview on NPR of a guy who wrote a book about this topic, and the things he said about our profession were just terrifying. While I don’t see blue collar jobs as a bad thing, I do have concerns about this whole philosophy. I have always been an artistic person, and got into software engineering because I think of it as a way of combining art with problem solving and to channel my need for creativity. If this philosophy becomes mainstream, I’m afraid I won’t be able to do neither. I’ve already seen this in the banking industry and it’s spreading.

Is the way I see software development realistic or am I being too idealistic?