Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Thinking About Part-Time or Contracting

I'm taking some courses at a University part time in my evenings. During the day, I work for as a software developer for a large brick and mortar company. I really want to pursue my education, however I'm in a good position with this company and it seems like I can use it to my advantage.

I'm considering asking to be moved to either a part-time or contractual role. Besides the obvious implications on my salary, is there anything else I should be aware of? Has anybody negotiated something like this before? Do you have any advice?


Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Move to India, that is my strong advice to you.

Agnus Moorehead
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

i was in a very similar situation a few months ago.  i loved my job, loved the people i worked with, and even had a piece of paper signed by some HR guy saying that i could flex my schedule to work around classes (i took a $5k pay cut at hire time to get this). 

one day i go to my boss and say, "i have to have an extra 30 min in the middle of the day to take a CS prereq.  this is the only session they offer this semester.  i will make up the time in morning or evening, as is convenient."  i was told to ask prof if i could take class without attending class (hah!).  prof said no.  boss held his ground. 

so a couple weeks later i resigned, determined to take classes full time and knock out degree asap.  boss asked during exit interview if i left because he wouldn't let me take class.  it was all i could do to not burn a bridge, right there.  :)

long story short, a couple weeks later another company that i sent resume to a long time ago (6+ months)  through monster called me in for interview.  they gave me a 25%+ pay raise, let me have 2 hour lunch break to take class, very accomodating, etc.  i didn't even miss a paycheck. 

i considered asking for part-time, and i'd encourage you to ask for that.  but if they say no, then it's a tough decision you'll have to make about whether your degree is worth more than your job.  i've made it, and it worked out for me.  i hope it does for you as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Never let a "good job" get in the way of What You Really Want To Do.

Zwarm Monkey
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Hi D.M.,

I am in a similar situation, working full time and studying for a BoS degree in CS in my spare time. Fortunately I attend a so called 'long distance' university that allows me to schedule my courses any way I want, so they do not interfere with my job too much (I still do not find enough time for them, though).

I used to work for another company and started out with a part time contract (first 3 1/2 days then 4 days a week), but the pay was lousy and I did a lot of overtime anyway, so I was in the office full time everyday after all, doing my studies on the weekends. We then changed the contract to be full time but with an extra 10 vacation days for my studies. Pay still not too good.

Then I changed to my current job, full time, pay finally ok, much nicer company and learned that I have the right for the extra vacation days anyway (called 'Bildungsurlaub' in German, don't know if there is an English or American pendant). Since I am now quite happy with my job, I am in no hurry to get the degree. Still I will consider to ask for a part time contract for the final exam phase.

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

> Never let a "good job" get in the way of What You Really Want To Do.

Sounds like he wants to leave his good job to get that degree, which of course, will get him a good job.

Ask yourself why you want the degree.  Personal knowledge, more money, more job security, better job prospects ? 

Negotiating PT work is hard.  I have done it several times, and it's always with big resistance.  You better have some serious value to the firm to ask for that. 
I totally sympathize with mgmt's position also.  If they grant one PT, the entire team might decide they want PT (Esp back in the stock mania, when salaries became a fraction of the average person's annual income)

It can't hurt to ask for PT, except you will let them know you have other horizons in your sights.  Makes you less stable of a resource instantly.

F it.  You're young.  Quit.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

A couple of points, purely my own opinion, your value system may yield different results.

I've never had or heard of a job that was better than having my degree. 

I worked full time and got the degree part time, and my GPA suffered.

DON'T let your gpa suffer.  It stays with you for life.  In ten years, nobody is going to care how many late night debugging sessions you had.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002


Adrian Gilby
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Grade Point Average, some american educational obsession.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, September 12, 2002

> DON'T let your gpa suffer. It stays with you for life. In ten years, nobody is going to care how many late night debugging sessions you had.

I disagree 99%.  GPA only matter in certain fields, and if you plan on doing EVEN MORE schooling.  Firms care about experience (ie: late nigh debugging experience)  not an inspid GPA. 

"Stays with you for life"  In IT !?!?!  Christ, what a laugh.  People dont even care what COLLEGE I attended, let alone my GPA.  *I* dont even know my GPA !    It's 99% experience., 1% pedigree. 

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Bella, we have different goals in life, mine requires a high gpa.  Got it?

Thursday, September 12, 2002

So are you suffering then?

Robin Debreuil
Friday, September 13, 2002

Me?  I wouldn't exactly call it suffering - I'm still in a good income bracket after all.  But, had I achieved better grades, my acceptance chances at the upper tier schools would have been a lot better.  It was a long time ago...  I didn't think I would ever do anything but program, and I already had an IT job, so I didn't really put forth an effort. 

Friday, September 13, 2002

[boss asked during exit interview if i left because he wouldn't let me take class. it was all i could do to not burn a bridge, right there.]

I don't think it would be burning a bridge to answer the question honestly and carefully; something like this:

"I'm leaving to pursue the opportunity to further my education, which I think will be the best decision for my career.  I greatly enjoyed working with the team at (company name here), and wish it could have worked out to continue to do that while pursuing my education."

Kyle Cordes
Thursday, September 26, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home