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What's the worst career decision you've ever made?

mortoray profile image edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y ・1 min read

If you can't remember the best decision you've made, perhaps that really bad decision still stands out in your memory.

Discussion (27)

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josegonz321 profile image
Jose Gonzalez • Edited

Not blogging/sharing content online.

Timeframe: 2004-05

My first job was to be a TA at a .NET 3-month bootcamp. During lab week, I'd assist students with their project assignments to apply everything they had learn during that week.

(Note: 80% of students = 5yrs+ exp developers leveling up their skill set).

Most students had no or very little HTML knowledge and struggled on their ASP.NET Webforms project.

After answering the same questions over and over, I created a through HTML/CSS tutorial. It had explicit details for anyone to follow.

It was a huge hit with the students, and so damn successful it became part of the school's regular curriculum. 🎆

One of the instructors (and later my mentor) asked me to present it to his class. And I did. (I presented it to every class afterwards)

Later, he encouraged me to create a blog and post it online.

But I was 22-23 with huge self-confidence issues. 😔

Who would read this? I'm not good enough. People will make fun of me and my tutorial.

My belief, my perception inside my head, that others would make fun of me won.

I never created that blog.

If you got something, anything to share, put it up online and share it!

Most people want you to succeed and get better at it.

So, get blogging/writing/sharing today! 😃

earthtone0ne profile image
Stephanie • Edited

Staying too long at a toxic job. There were red flags from the first day. I should've left that first week, but I stuck it out for two years out of misplaced loyalty, or fear that I wouldn't find anything better – at least I liked my coworkers! Luckily, as it turned out, my next job was an amazing experience for 8 great years.

I learned to be more selective; to heed those red flags; to respect myself and my health; to expect a company to give its staff the tools they need to do the job; and to support my staff as they deserve.

gregorgonzalez profile image
Gregor Gonzalez

That is a really bad job. At least gave you the experience and now you can tell differences between a good-bad job. You are brave and leave was a good decision.

I'm struggling on a similar experience and I know how it feels, I'm still waiting for something that nevers happens and after 4 years still is a toxic job.

z0al profile image
Ahmed T. Ali

Similar experience, also stayed for two years. actually I just noticed my employer yesterday!

earthtone0ne profile image

Congrats on escaping, and good luck in the next venture!

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z0al profile image
kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

My worst career decision was indecision about the unhappiness I felt at my job.

It was my first corporate programming job. The project was great for a few years, but eventually it went into life support mode.

I found it harder to go to work every day. I exhausted my vacation time early, came in late, left early... was basically a terrible employee and hated my job. Not sure why I wasn't fired.

I attributed my behavior at first to just being a lazy, worthless person who took a while to show it. (Ingrained guilt + inexperience in the working world.) At some point, I started trying things to make work interesting again (hosting lunch 'n learns, trying to rearchitect things with new tech). I eventually made the cognitive connection that not having creative work led to my unhappiness. Once I realized that, the bad behaviors stopped, and I asked my boss to move me to another project. But he didn't have anything else for me. I found a new job a few months later. (I left "the right way". I spent my notice transitioning my project to others.)

Final analysis: I was a builder in a maintainer's job. The comorbid issue was the unhealthiness of relying on guilt as a motivator. If I need to be 30 minutes late before I talk myself into getting out of bed on an average day... How do I raise enough guilt to face an especially demotivating day?

That experience brought me fresh appreciation for the old aphorism know thyself.

aalindg profile image
Aalind Gupta

This can be a long answer.
So, I got my first job at a very renowned MNC here. As per the process, I was supposed to attend the company's training period. I was taught Java, html, css and Javascript. After completing the training period, I was expecting a job in the same technologies. But no, they put me in a support project for SAPAG, where I was supposed to do nothing, but follow a 15-20 step procedure daily for every customer request. The work was so easy, there's no training required for that. I requested my manager to allow me to automate the whole process so that the work force needed for that 24*7 project may reduce.. But he denied. He asked me to only focus on the procedure and do nothing else. There was no innovation, no creativity and definitely no learning. My biggest life regret was, not saying NO to that toxic project, and staying 2 years in it. I should've left earlier when I realized there was nothing to learn.

jess profile image
Jess Lee (she/her)

I requested my manager to allow me to automate the whole process so that the work force needed for that 24*7 project may reduce.. But he denied.


aalindg profile image
Aalind Gupta

My manager rejected mine many times, even after I did it off the record and proved that our work can be made easy. Finally I'm quitting my job.

comradephil profile image

I'd like to blame it on being young and dumb but the worst 'decision' I made was to stop actively trying to progress myself once I finished university. I found a job as a junior dev which I grew to enjoy but was using a proprietry scripting language which I didn't realise the tremendous downside of until I had been there stagnating for 6 or so years. 'Thankfully' I got made redundant after nearly 10 years which lit a fire to actually improve myself albeit 8 years or so later than I should. So being lazy was definitely the worst decision I have made.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

It's hard to say it was a bad career decision since I learned a lot, but I had a side project that I brought some partners onto and man did we not see eye-to-eye on operations or work well together. I was extremely frustrated and wound up wasting a lot of time. I learned a lot about working relationships, so I don't necessarily regret it, but it had a big impact for me in terms of what not to do.

I've made a lot of bad decisions I can look back on and sigh about, but I learned a lot from each one and I can't imagine it being all that different. That's kind of corny, but it's true.

Not a decision per se, but I regret being worried about not being up-to-date about certain libs that wound up being displaced by the next wave. I spent way too much time with FOMO that I didn't know it all. Lots of imposter syndrome at play.

dothtm profile image
Midpoint Nerd

I decided I wanted to spend more time on projects and less time on putting out fires. I was comfortable, but I wasn't moving anywhere, just taking care of trouble tickets and setting up iPhone email accounts.

So I took a pay cut to transfer to a department away from Central IT. My clients had little to no idea what my scope was vs. what Central IT provided. I ended up doing more of the same work, with less choice on how I did it, and without the protection of my former manager who was willing to tell a client "No" when it was a poor request or just generally against company policy. On top of that, I never shipped a project larger than surplussing ancient hardware being stockpiled in a few basement closet or rebuilding a student computer lab.

Granted, this lit a fire under me to get moving to where I am today, which I feel more appreciated and understood, and totally protected by a manager who knows what's good for the organization.

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Rich Burroughs

Staying too long at jobs. It's actually happened multiple times. It's important to remember you're the only one who's really going to look out for you. If you're in a bad situation and can't change it, it's time to move on.

Second place is not getting things in writing. I had a boss at my first tech job who promised us he'd take care of us if he ever sold the company, but we had no contract. When he did sell, he rolled up the next day in his new Lexus and I got basically nothing.

metric152 profile image

Staying in the same position for too long.

It was my first "real" job in 2007 after graduating college in 2005, but had been working on the web since 99. I received one promotion from web developer to software engineer and then stalled for a number of years in the same group. I should have switched teams sooner. I missed out on a lot of opportunities.

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

I've seen this in many first programmers, they stick with their first job a long time. I encourage people to switch jobs early to ensure they get a feel for what is out there.

metric152 profile image

The main issue I ran into is that when I took the job it was such a huge jump in pay that I didn't realize I was at the very bottom of the pay scale for my position. I undersold myself because I moved from a three person shop to a huge corporation.

My big take away was if you're not moving to a new position every two years at least look for something new inside your company. Staying in one place will not help you.

carterwickstrom profile image
Carter Wickstrom • Edited

'Worst' isn't always fair: I stayed too long at a job where I could actively participate in my son's early schooling. The first half was great: I was doing neat stuff, and I could be a really engaged dad. The 2nd half, it was comfortable and familiar, and I watched the field move past me.

I don't regret taking that job - we did some amazing things there - but I definitely stayed there about 3 years too long. Had I stayed much longer, a) I probably would have been let go, and b) I probably would have struggled to find a relevant role in IT, which I love.

maccabee profile image

Staying to long on a project I didn't want in the first place.

I have always been more interested in UI in general, be it web front-end or desktop GUIs. My very first project ended up being DB/back-end(MS Access/SQL Server) on 10 year old tech, ALONE. I did have someone in an advisory position, he was a DBA, but he was always busy on his main project. I did build them a SPA to test the waters in upgrading but it took so long as I didn't have a proper mentor for the web.

2 months in to my next project, having a proper mentor, I could rewritten that SPA in half the time and twice the quality.

Part of my problem was I had issues with questioning authority, but I've realized, as part of a team they sometimes need to be questioned to:

  1. make sure you understand their vision to correctly implement it.
  2. make sure they understand their vision to know if it's truly what they want.
kotakmakan profile image
Adityo Pratomo

Working in digital ad agency. Stayed there for about 10 months, added none to my portfolio, learned nothing, ended up despising the industry. I thought I would had the chance to create creative looking web apps/sites. In the end, what I got was working day and night, even on weekends to deliver generic looking microsite because that's what the client wants. Ugh.

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

In a move that could only be described as absolute youthful stupidity I once fired a good friend shortly before his wedding. It naturally ruined the friendship. It didn't hurt my job future, but man does that memory stick me, embedded in my core operating principles now. Too much faith was placed in me at that company, and unfortunately I never suffered from imposter syndrome. I thought I could do it. I couldn't.

Beyond that I have a series of minor screwups and misdirections. It's so easy to look into the past and see so many things I could have done to make things better.

sqlanodyne profile image
Cyn Jo

Thinking that moving to Utah would be a good decision for me as a woman in tech. Utah has THE WORST numbers in the nation for women in tech, and some of the guys here really don't like women in their boys club.

ni3t_60 profile image
Nick Bell

Thinking that signed offer letters weren't revocable without cause.

kostjapalovic profile image

Going to big company after one of my ventures failed. It was better to start another, but I followed advice of father to go to big company.waste of time

blkdmndknight profile image
Clint Gallon

Working in the financial industry as a developer. NEVER AGAIN

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

I did that once and found it okay. I guess it depends on the project.

arts profile image
Art Skvira

I am sure a whole lot more people would contribute to this if you remove requirement to login with github etc.