Andras Bacsai

Andras Bacsai

Why did I leave my stable job in the middle of a pandemic?

Why did I leave my stable job in the middle of a pandemic?

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In my previous post, I mentioned there is a long story about why I stopped working on my side-project.

It's tough to write this post. I changed my mind several times, should I write it or not. But it keeps poking me. You know, when something always tickles you in the back of your brain & doesn't let you sleep. So I have to dump it to be free.

My career

I've got introduced programming - exactly to Visual Basic - when I was 15. My father is a programmer, so as you can imagine. I love to talk to the computer through code.

My first job was at a multinational company - even before I graduated from college - for over nine years. I loved it.

  • Close to where I live - I could go to work by bicycle every day, even on winters.
  • Family-friendly - I could be at home office with my children if needed - like when they were ill.
  • Smart colleagues - There was always an opportunity to learn.
  • Good salary.

I always preferred a better working environment and the fact that I can learn a lot over the money I get every month.

We could happily live with my family of 4 - that is what matters for me. I did not want to change anything.

So, you could ask.

Why did you leave it?? Are you mad?? There is a pandemic outside!

It all started with an idea: start a side-project. I love to learn & create things with my bare hands, so a side-hustle is perfect for me. I am figuring out how an application should look like, what components it should have, which database fits it better, which frontend/backend frameworks to choose, etc. Love it.

After a year or so, I decided to try out something new with it. Offered a paid version of one of my open-sourced apps, which was a privacy-focused visitor analytics service.

At that time, my father stopped doing any business in his company. It was a small local IT business, only 1-2 customers. As I needed an official entity to start selling, I decided to take it over from him.

Do you start seeing the problem? It's getting a shape.

In most - if not all - multinational companies, you have to report if you would like to have a second job - to not have any conflicts of interest. I agreed with this. I've filled all the required papers, talked with my manager, everything needed from my side done as quickly as possible.

After a week of processing all the documents, my manager told me that it is approved, no conflicts.

I was so happy, having a cool daily job, but still have a side-project where I can unleash my imagination.

Aaaand here comes the black soup...

After 2-3 days of the approval, got another email which told me that:

I'm not allowed to do anything outside of office hours, on my computer, in my free time, which includes coding - do not even think about it - because I could be a massive competition to the company - without any further explanation.

If I asked why that happened, I did not get any answers to my questions. All I got back from everywhere - "You should not ask any questions; otherwise, there could be consequences."

Wait. Whaaat??

I was outstanding during those nine years - at least from the feedback I received. My salary went pretty high during these years. Always received the highest ratings from the yearly feedbacks. But after this, I got conscious of how much the company owns me and do whatever they want with me.

I can't describe in words how I felt. I had no idea what to do next. It was shocking & depressing. My motivation dropped to zero - the first time in 9 years. I barely talked to anybody - even though I'm not a chatterbox.

I don't judge anybody or anything for the decision because "it's in the deck." They have - probably - the right to do so, but it should have been implemented more amicably. I felt abandoned, futureless & it affected my work enough.

So what's next?

There is only one escape from these feelings. Look for another job. But yeah. COVID-19 is in the pantry. No school. No kindergarten. Everybody at home - days full of challenges.

There are no other IT jobs nearby where I live. The closest one is 60km away. There is a lot of it, but I'm a family-centric person. I prefer to be with my family instead of traveling 3-4 hours a day. I could do it if I must, but not it's not something I desire.

What to do in this case?

Kick everything up and search for a fully remote foreign job. #yolo

I was fortunate because I only applied for two jobs, but the first one escalated pretty quickly. The position already filled; they just forgot to delete it from their website. So basically, I just tried only one & got accepted after some interviews.

I felt relieved.

I only had one interview before, so to get through the first one after nine years made me confident that I'm doing the right thing.

After four months of working at my new job, I know I was right. I did the best thing I ever have done in my career. I am working with very talented people at CodeSandbox to shape the future of web-based coding.

What's next?

Work on my side-project as much as I can in my free time!

If you would like to follow my journey, follow me on twitter.

Lessons learnt

  • If you are unhappy with your current job, change.
  • If you feel yourself locked up, change.
  • Even a pandemic should not stop you from doing what's the best for you or your mental health.
  • There is always an opportunity, a light at the end of the tunnel. You need to be brave.

Share this post with anybody who is in a similar situation. I hope it can help others to understand: there's always a way out of the woods. Feel free to contact me on twitter, if you have any questions.

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