On A Crossroad and Need Some Advice

Hi all, this is my first time posting here. Nice to meet you all.

I (M, 23) am a software engineer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Currently, I am working for a company in a contractual manner and right now I’m in a bit of a pickle.

For context, I must say that I graduated from uni on October last year, so I’m pretty much still a fresher although having almost 2 years of experience now, thanks to internship, part-time job, and this contract I’m currently going, in fact I have started doing this contract job before I was graduated. Was having quite a lot of free time after my thesis, so I decided to search for a job and got this one; felt super proud and accomplished back then not gonna lie. As a software engineer, I’m not really focused in one tech stack, kinda like learner-of-all master-of-none. Lately, I have decided to focus more on the frontend stuff of web and mobile development but here comes my distress.

For added context, I must say the mechanism of this contract job. I’m pretty much an outsource engineer that is placed to the client company’s office. This is not bad at all, everyone here are very kind and supportive. However, the client company that I got placed at is a bank and let’s just say many of their SDLC practices, techs in general, even how they do office bureaucracy are kinda out of date due to keeping up with the regulations. Throughout this one year contract, I only do software engineering tasks for the first three months (was making an attendance app for internal use, kinda proud of that one). Since then, its been just going to a meeting, writing reports, and most of the time just do nothing. Management said that all this free times are due to me being an outsource, they are currently developing quite a big project on the background that only internal members can do. This sounds great at first… getting paid while doing almost nothing? Who wouldn’t like that? But as time goes I felt more and more in decay. Like I’m rotting from the lack of challenges and all my past learning are not put into practice… I feel like all my coding skills are deteriorating fast, even I can confidently say that the past me can definitely beat current me in a coding test or coding anything really. I tried to do some training on my own to stay sharp but in the end it just doesn’t feel right. To add salt to the wound, the office location is actually pretty far from my home (around 42km/26miles round trip). I must say I feel kinda irritated every morning going to work because of the fact that I’ll just do nothing there and get tired from my round trip (Jakarta’s road is always ridiculously congested and dangerous, adding even more stress every day). There has been many great events and incentives given by my parent company but I still feel so unsatisfied due to my circumstances; in turn my performance deteriorate more and more each day. It’s been forever since the last time I came to the office on-time.

Right now, I’m almost at the end of my contract, in less than 2 months from now in fact. Last week, I’ve got a call from the management of my parent company, confirming that my contract will not be extended. I kinda was expecting this outcome, considering my situation so I was accepting of this fact. Its just suddenly, today, the management of the client company, which I know of by person, contacted me and asked whether I still want to stay here or not… they said that I may do more work in the upcoming year because this big project that they’ve been developing internally has finished all the necessary requirement that needs to be done by themselves. So for next development phase, they expect all employee, including the outsources to be able to help in the project as well. I’m quite taken aback honestly, after being so underperformant and doing close to nothing throughout my contract, to be given a chance like this just felt so surreal not gonna lie. I have explained that I may need to take some time to consider this but they want my answer by the evening so I just said that I’m still interested in staying (if you’re curious, it is 0:55AM now as I’m writing this). Problem is now, I’m feeling kinda disconcerted with my choice there. I’m remembering my past experiences throughout this contract again, the feeling of rot and decay haunts me after that decision. Granted, I feel like I can still backpedal from this choice, should I just do it? I have always been planning to just take a few months off after this contract ends to relearn all the hard skills I have forgotten and just better myself in general, do some hobbies, get some workout, rediscover myself and see what career it is that I really want.

I must say my economic situation is not looking the best right now. I may be able to survive for at least 3 months without a job right now, but I may really have to start looking for a job in that third month or there may be some trouble. To add to the problem, Indonesia is also having quite a huge tech hiring freeze; job openings for frontend developer are scarce even software engineer in general are getting lesser than last year. Most that’s open, offer less benefits or pay than what I currently have and the competition is fierce due to the lack of openings and abdundance of job seekers. I don’t know how the job market will be in the future. Could be still like this or got worse, hence my hesitation here. I also feel a bit afraid instead of being able to take those time off to really better myself, I’ll instead went down a spiral of depression, lamenting the choices that I have made. Any thoughts?

So there is one thing you can do moving forward, that you could of done earlier to help yourself, your job prospects, your state of mind, and your employment opportunities now and later.

Ask for work.

Ask your boss what other sort of work you could be helping with. If they say they can get back to you, or suggest you something that is “too easy”, or blocked, or whatever, then seek out someone else and ask them.

Ask your co-workers, ask people in your office near you, ask you boss’s boss, ask the random guy who’s too busy. Ask anyone for work.

Unless everyone you know is sitting around not doing anything, odds are someone will be happy to give you work. You will get to learn something new, do a new job and figure out something else, rather than not doing anything.

I’m not sure of the work culture in Indonesia, but I’m not aware of any customs/culture that would prevent this. Even in the US, asking for work isn’t too common, as most would like to skate and not work. However, if your mind is getting “eaten” by idleness, why not put your mind to use?

Ultimately you have an opportunity not everyone has, and that is having a job. If you can’t afford to be unemployed then I’d do what you can to lessen your chances of getting layed-off. The easiest way to do that is make yourself more important as a cross-dependency, and to do that you need to spread out what you are involved with.

PS Being a contract worker shouldn’t impact this too much. Working beyond your contract could be a little iffy, but your essentially doing “free work” at some level, so your employer shouldn’t mind.