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I’m beginning to feel like I no longer enjoy working where I do. My coworkers are stagnant in ability and only really program at work. Most of them are not in my age range and I live in a pocket of the country (far from any big programming communities). Thus, I’d like to start looking for another job. Although this is hard. It’s been ~8 months since I’ve been out of school and I no longer have strong contacts with companies. On top of that I feel like I’d be disappointing people by leaving since I was recently put in charge of a big project. I wish I could’ve told my boss I was looking for a new job and not been placed in charge of this but I feel they would fire me.

The problem I have is responding to emails during the day I feel someone walking by could read them. Also phone interviews could go from 30-60minutes and could add up quick. Then if there is a video chat interview I’d have to go somewhere else or work from home that day which could look “suspicious.”

TL;DR: No longer like current job, don’t know how to go about getting another one.

My question: how did you manage to do it all? Should I feel guilty about potentially leaving this project? Any other advice is welcome.

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    I (and spouse) have been in this position many times. The logistics you’ll have to weigh and schedule as best you can. Ask yourself, “Is this video interview really worth taking time off from my job? How promising is the lead and/or company?”

    As for feeling guilty, that’s the last thing I would do. Career advancement is strictly business, and I can assure you your company would not feel bad if they had to let you go for any number of reasons.

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      How long have you been working at the company? What professional experience do you have outside of it?

      The easy answer is “network” but if you’ve got limited experience this becomes harder. Do you have former classmates you keep in touch with? Reach out to them and see what they think of their companies, and if they like it, if they know of open positions.

      The word “recruiter” is often paired with a minced oath, but if you find a good one (which can be difficult…) they’ll handle much of the leg work that you don’t have the time for. Again, reach out to anyone you know for help finding one.

      The problem I have is responding to emails during the day I feel someone walking by could read them.

      Email at night, no one will care.

      For interviews, your best bet is to take a Friday or Monday off and try to schedule a few in. I wouldn’t schedule more than 3-4 phone interviews and never more than two in person interviews on the same day. I had a day with 5 phone screens once and my brain was mush by the last one.

      Don’t worry about anyone becoming suspicious. It doesn’t really matter what you do on your day off, and they won’t really care.

      Should I feel guilty about potentially leaving this project?

      When you work for another person - either as an employee or a private company who takes contracts - both sides are seeking to improve the other. As long as you’ve improved your current job while you’ve been there, you’ve fulfilled your end of the proverbial bargain.

      Don’t let yourself feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with making a decision that benefits you - and honestly, I’ve worked with programmers before who are burned out/bored with work/fed up, and them leaving is almost always a net positive for the rest of us.

      That said…

      Any other advice is welcome.

      First off, a big disclaimer: I’ve got a wife, a mortgage, and kids. My take on your situation is colored by this. Any opinions you get will be similarly colored, so don’t put too much stock into them. If you’ve got nothing keeping you where you are, go for it.

      My reading of your situation is that you’ve got, at most, 8 months of professional experience. Is this right?

      This might not sound encouraging, but you should consider your reasons for leaving. I’ve had experience with interviewing and hiring developers and, while some level of “job hopping” is understood, it typically comes with candidates with a stronger body of experience and who are moving upward very quickly.

      I’ve looked at resumes that probably look like yours before. The first question was “why has this guy left his last job so quickly?” which was almost immediately followed by “will he stick around here?” We’re getting better at onboarding new hires but it takes us around three months for a really sharp person to come in and really start contributing at 100%… I’d get nervous we’d not get much out of you.

      My coworkers are stagnant in ability and only really program at work. Most of them are not in my age range

      It’s work. You don’t have to be friends with them. And most companies you go to will have bad programmers, older programmers, and bad old programmers. You’ll have to deal with them no matter what.

      Do be careful about judging your coworkers as you often have a limited view into their world. One of the old fogeys I work with is a competitive barbequer and writes Nim libraries in his spare time. I just thought he was a grumpy old Perl hacker for the first year I was there.

      Do you have a good group of friends in your city outside work? Do you have hobbies and activities you like?

      Most importantly, it sounds like you’re advancing in the company, so they recognize your importance. This typically means you’re in a position to ask for more - an improved working environment, more vacation, a raise, whatever. Is there anything your current job can do that would make you happier?

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        I got my second job via a recruiter; there are costs associated with that but for me at the level of confidence I was at the time it was worth it. I did phone interviews at lunchtime or in the evening after work; I don’t think it’s right to do that stuff on the clock at your current job, but by the same token you’re entitled to leave at 5 sharp . Asking for time off for in-person interviews at short notice is a little more awkward, but IME most managers don’t want to make a fuss about it any more than you do, and take a “don’t ask/don’t tell” approach.

        It sounds like you’re expecting rather a lot of interviewing. I’d say target your applications more carefully; it’s better to apply to three companies you actually want to work for than twenty that you’re kind of indifferent about. And for one application at a reasonable company it shouldn’t be more than: half-hour phone screen (lunchtime or 5:30), hour-or-so email-or-online programming assignment (do it in the evening or at the weekend), half-day in-person interview. If a company asks for something unreasonable like an 8-hour programming assignment on your own time, don’t be afraid to just say no.

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          It is also worth remembering that job hunting is a full time job in it self.

          I have found What color is your parachute? book useful - even though I have never followed all its step to discover my perfect job.

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            I was in a very similar situation with very similar worries, especially re: job hopping.

            To start, be patient if you can. I found that when I applied to one opportunity at a time I’d ride the emotional roller coaster waiting for it, it’s not a bad idea to play the long game. If you don’t already have a relationship with your local businesses or with the kinds of people you’d like to work with, I’d focus on doing that.

            Re: the guilt. Make sure that when you have to hand something off the next person is set up to succeed. Beyond that, these things are prone to happen, most employers have seen people come and go and an unhappy/unproductive employee is worse than someone who has gone off to find what they want. I have a lot of guilt around disappointing people and it’s important to realize that not all of it is real, in most cases people get along fine without you.

            I wouldn’t do too much job hunting at work though, that is something I would feel weird about. On-site interviews are tough but phone and e-mail could be done elsewhere. Quality is better than quantity, try to hit the places you’re most interested in working.

            owen mentioned the concept of negotiation. Think hard about what you want from your work. If your workplace can make changes that will turn things around for you (money, advancement, etc.), go for it. If you want to leave for other reasons, the good faith move is not to negotiate.