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Career Advice needed...

By m_luke ·
Dear TechRepublic Professionals,

Being a little stuck, I would glady appreciate any advice on my current situation and some background info:

Before going to Uni, I was interested in building computers and computer networks. I invested time to read books about these topics and also attended externally-run classes on networking that lead to building my own computer network.

I even attended a two-week course on Win2k MCSE core subjects and upgraded my own network to use Win2k and Active Directory some time later.

After going to Uni and doing a Software Engineering degree where I spent one very unfruitful and forgettable year as an intern in a large corporate and worked on a uni-supervised project at a (real) software house, I graudated at the worst possible time - in the mist of the tech bust at the end of 2002.

Before leaving Uni, I joined a student-exchange organisation promising to find me a position within an IT company somewhere in the world. Unforunately, I realised that they were very polished in their powerpoint presentations...

Not having too much success in my job searching efforts for the majority of 2003, I was finally employed as a contractor for a three-month period doing software testing and implementation and technical writing for a startup during which I discovered and communicated some inconsistances in the official test data supplied by a third-party.

I was recalled by the same company approximately one month later to perform application support for two weeks on the same project that I worked on previously.

In early 2004, the student-exchange organisation finally presented me with the chance to work in an ISP in Germany - a chance that I took with a little reluctance. (long story)

Since then, I have picked up a scripting language as well as some database skills through working on various tasks that have been assigned to me; also discovering that I like software development. (Perhaps becoming a project Manager for tech projects in the future??)

Currently, I have approximately 3.5 weeks before I must leave Germany and my supervisor has presented me with a full software systems project that will provide me with some invaluable experience in software development. (If you have not noticed, it is something that I desperately need.)

However, after some preliminary planning, I found that the project will require approximately two-months to complete. In addition, my appeal to my boss to extend my stay longer in order for me to 'carry' this project through to the end has failed as I suspect my successor, a local trainee, will 'pick up the pieces' afterwards.

Furthermore, I believe my supervisor knows the importance of this project and how much value it would bring to this company, but he does not even have any time to have meetings. This makes me feel personally responsible for this project, which I am glad to have this feeling.

Having completed the database design and am currently designing the webpages for this system, my supervisor has asked me to try and implement the basic framework before I leave.

So my questions are:
(1) With a love for programming as well, I understand the freedoms that a 'clean-slate' can bring to a programmer. Knowing that my skills as a web-programmer are only at a beginner level, should I even attempt to implement the basic framework knowing that my successor will be given this project to the goal of finishing it?
(2) I think I can implement said system given the time that I have left, but I estimate that there will be a serious drop in the quality of the system. I am reluctant to producing poor quality work having read so many articles from TechRepublic and through my degree. Should I proceed with this course of action anyway?
(3) Looking at my history, what are my future job and career prospects? I have already been looking for jobs, but have never had much positive response, if at all!
(4) Returning to my home country, should I pursue further study? If so, should it be more IT-related topics or something complete different.
(5) Should I even consider a full career-change?

Thank you for your time and patience to read through my posting and thank you for your valuable response.

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Some thoughts...

by Salamander In reply to Career Advice needed...

Sounds like you are concerned with making sure that this project flies after you leave. The suggestions I have are the following:

-Document the tasks involved in completing the project with appropriate timelines and pass all the tasks and dependencies on to your boss. If you are required to leave before completion, you can show that you've completed the tasks assigned to you by the departure date. Some bosses need a visual in order to realize that what they want done can't be done in the allotted time, due to dependencies.

-Involve your successor. If your primary goal is the success of the project, get your successor assigned to you ASAP. Help him/her get familiar with what you are doing. Anything that you can do to ease the transition and map things out for your successor is a good idea. Any problems your successor has will be unfortunately attributed to you, whether they are your fault or not.

-Wherever you leave off, document the next steps. Make a status report to your boss, with your successor present, when you leave so that your supervisor knows where things stand.

-Consider offering to be available to answer questions after your departure by phone or e-mail. This can be a slippery slope; some employers will take advantage, so use your judgment. It also depends on how badly you want to keep your fingers in it for educational purposes. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of this one!

If your boss is too busy to attend meetings, provide this material in writing. Sounds like you may have to make the best of a less than ideal situation, but you'll want to keep the relationship as good as possible for references this early on in your career. Good luck!

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by ITgirli In reply to Career Advice needed...

You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, and would be an asset to any company. As was mentioned in the previous post, document everything. Put what you can into it, but don't let yourself get attached to the work. Documentation is the most important thing in IT. Good luck.

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