My side of the story 20.12.2011
- Summer (Programming) Work (Student Work type thingy )
- Didn't write down specifications, terms, ...
- Got burned by it
- Still learned a lot (Tech and non tech related)
- Was paid less, than if I would be digging shafts for half the hours
- Can't do anything about it, because the system is broken.
I realize that me publishing this story could do more damage to me than it'll do to them - after all they have a lot more connections and they probably could advise potential employers not to hire me. But after looking at this draft over and over again, I came to a conclusion that I have to tell my side of the story. Especially since I think I cooled off enough, and I believe I can now represent the events in a (more-or-less) objective way. (After all, this postwas in the making more than a month now)
So, where to begin? This summer, I set out to get a job. An interesting and challenging programming job so I could broaden my horizons, learn new things, improve on my old skills, get to meet new people and after all, make some pocket money.
So I set up on my job hunting, and a friend pointed me to a relatively young (startup-ish) company in Slovenia that is working on a very interesting product. I tried, and I got the job. Elated by the opportunity I just got, we discussed the terms and we decided I come for 2-4 weeks in the office and then work from home in a form of Student Work. So I relocated for 2 weeks (again, with some extensive help by some other friend) and everything looked excellent. They were satisfied with my work and we agreed that I can continue from home.
After a week or so of me working from home, they approached me with another offer. Untill then I worked on their own product/services, but now they needed some work done for a new contracted project. Initially I refused, because I didn't want to relocate back (this time for a longer period) and I enjoyed our present work arrangement. But, as they had trouble finding someone else, they agreed on very flexible terms. 3 weeks of work from home, 3 weeks from their offices (and this time they pay all the living and transportation costs). We agreed on a higher hour rate too and I began to work, first 3 weeks from home.
After some struggle of coordinating and designing a complex system without physical presence, we overcame that and the work on the project ran swiftly. The 3 weeks passed quickly, with hard work on both sides we were on track for the quick deadline we got on the project. But then, a week before I was scheduled to relocate to the offices, I realized I was still not paid for any work I have done for them. They said that the delay came from some bureaucracy and I had to insist I'm not relocating untill they make the first deposit. Because of some problems with my living arrangements (that they were doing) we had to postpone my arrival for 4 days. The day of my departure came, but I was still not paid for my previous work (done way over a month ago), but on good faith I sat on the train and by the time I got to the office the money was on my account. I thought, it happens - nothing to blame on them, those pesky buerocrats took their time. So I got paid for all my previous work and untill previous weeks work on the current project - all good and dandy. At this point (when we were calculating the amount of work I have done) I estimated that I can finish the project in X hours.
In the office, I worked a lot (because I simply didn't have anything else to do in that city) and after all the deadline was dangerously near. After the end of the 3rd week, I wanted to go home but they insisted I should stay and finish the project there. They even said we agreed on 3-5 weeks there, but I have logs that prove different. Because I didn't have particulary much of my life in that time, I knew I can work from home and I like to keep my word (and I like it vice versa too) I decided to go home (ofcourse, after some heated discussions with them).
So at this point, I calculated the work done and it was approximately 20% more than X. I thought, okay - I learned a lot and I can forget that 20%. As the work continued and the end was always a grasp away I thought, alright - they see how much I'm working, they'll give me some compensation for all the work and effort. Ofcourse, first real life deploy opened a bag of new issues and the end again slipped. And this repeated for some time. I started getting unconfortable because I didn't expect that I'll be working that long and my exams were approaching.
We had quite some talks (even a feisty one) because I expressed my wish for compensation and shortly after my wish to stop working on the project. After quite some mail and phone call exchanges, I realized that they really want me to squash some remaining bugs (and in future requests that were poping out). At this point I got burned by the fact we didn't write much of the specification/features down - and they insisted that everything stated goes under the project and I have to finish & I'll get paid by my original estimate. As stated, my resistence increased over time, and as the exams came I told them that I won't be doing any work for the next 14 days. Ofcourse they were not happy with it, and they sent me a big scary (lots of heavy words and explanations) e-mail stating that they'll pay me only 70% of X.
I ofcouse didn't agree with it, because to the day I have done approximately 2.5*X. Some big scary mails (they stated that I didn't track the time in their company timetracking - that we agreed I won't use, that they had a lot of expenses because of the delay, that I can be happy I'm getting anything at all and simmilar) back and forth, they started ignoring me and just paid me the 70% of X.
I know that a lot of this could be prevented if I would insist on some things in the beginning (weekly hour approving, monthly payments, a concrete specifications etc.) or if I would learn more from other's mistakes. I'm not proud on how I handled certain things in this adventure, but I thought I'm being paid by hour (that's what we agreed upon at the beginning) of the work I do. I was wrong.
Overall I learnt a lot, and I sure won't be making the same mistakes. The specifications and weekly hours approving are sercently needed with this type of work (It's quite specific arrangement available only in Slovenia I think, see ).
(And no, legal pursuit is futile, as it would take too long and cost me more than I have.)
Note: I'm not referring to my friends by name because I don't know if they want to be linked with this story.
 - http://www.slovenia.si/en/study/living/working-permit/