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What Should I do?

 
Greenhorn
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Hello,
I got my MS (in CS) in january this year from one of the top universities in NY and started to work as a programmer/consultant. The initial offer was $20 an hour and no benefits except for basic health coverage(no vision, no dental). I had to take the job because of visa purposes. Because I told my boss that the salary was low for my skills he increased it to $35/hour almost 6 months ago and it is still the same. Also, I learnt that he was charging the client $70 for my services. Namely, he is keeping half of what I worked for. Is that common practise? One think that is making me mad is, whenever there is a holiday client company is requesting me not to come to work and my company is not paying me either and I have no vacation and they claim it is because my salary is much higher than a regular employee. Is he right?
I have SCJP with 2 years experience in Java programming and 1 year on the job with J2EE technologies(EJB,JSP,Servlets,Weblogic etc). I believe I worth more than what he is paying especially in NY state.
I got a permanent job offer from a start-up company for 80K/year plus benefits and stock options but i think programmer/analysist with my skillset would worth more. Could anybody offer an estimate salary range?
How much should I ask for? or should I just leave this consulting company and take the 80K job?
I would appreciate any comments and recommendations
Thank you.

 
Ranch Hand
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Hi,
In my opinion you should quit the consulting job and hold to the 80k offer. But make sure that the start-up is well funded.
As regards the consulting firm wage, i think its a norm for a recruiter to charge twice/thrice of what you get from the client. Thats the whole business of consultancy you see.
With your qualification and experience you can easily command a a very good salary. Why don't you look out for job in CA?I think there are pretty lot of oppurtunities here.
On that note i would also like to say that the job market is pretty dry now, so most of us are having problems in finding a suitable job be it any where in USA.
Guys I am Right ?
Rajesh

 
Author
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Yes, it's common that the company gets charged more than they pay you. The big 6 consulting firms charge $100-$200/hour for their entry level people, but by the hour they only make $20-$30 (prorating, since they are usually salaried and get bonuses).
It is also standard that when the client has a holiday, you don't work.
It sounds like you work for a firm providing contract programmers. Basically, they are a middle man. Techincally, you work for them, but only in a legal sense. If you are working for a consulting firm where you are salaried, then you are really part of the company in a more traditional sense.
It's hard to say if $80k is reasonable. It really depends on your skill set and particular market. Sounds not unreasonable, at least. If you don't mind that fact that many startups are taking, if you can take the risk, go for it.
To Rajesh's point, frankly I think that's an illusion created by the media's bias towards gloom and doom stories. Yes, many companies are tanking, but there are plenty more still hiring.
--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
 
First Light
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Thank you for your kind comments. I am living in NYC area so it would be too much of a hassle to move to CA. I think the salaries here are very good too (except for mine :-( )
This start-up is going to sponsor my H1B and then green card and when I asked my company about these they said they would pay only a fraction of the expenses.(God, they are making so much money off me and not paying for this! ).
All I am getting from this company is what I put on my timesheet,sometimes I can not even complete full 40 hours a week.All I know is I want to leave this blood-sucking company as soon as possible.
I was going to interview with a couple of wall street companies and seems like everybody is on vacation, and I don't want to lose this 80K job offer, they have been waiting for me to decide for 2 weeks already. I guess I will have to take that offer and see how it is going. I am sure anything is better than this current job.
 
Rajesh Hegde
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Hi Mark,
The last line of yours definitely lifts my spirits. I think there should be bright days ahead come january.
Rajesh
 
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First Light:
Entry level MS-Comp Sci should run around $60K/yr + standard benefits package.
I believe there is something like 8 to 11 Federal Holidays that your employer must let you have off. Are you being paid salary or are you being paid by the hour. There is a big difference here. If you are salary - you should expect to be paid for the holidays. This is industry standard. If you are
being paid by the hour, then you probably won't get paid for the holidays.
Regarding your employer getting 50% of the take - this again is standard.
You quote that you are getting $35/hr --- I do hope that you are also getting decent benefits (medical, dental, eye, 3 weeks paid vacation). $35hr translates to $70K/yr. Not bad if you get a $15K a year benefit package.
If your current company is paying you a straight salary of $70K/yr and no benefits - and you have an MS-Comp Sci - then you are getting royally screwed.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
First Light
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Hi John,
I've closed the deal with the new company last week. 85K yearly salary plus all the health benefits,bonus and stock options. 2 weeks paid vacation and one week sick+personal days. Sounded like a great deal for me.
The ex-company was going to increase my hourly rate to $40/hour.I just had basic health insurance with them. No dental or vision was included. I am aware that they screwed me badly especially considering my low starting salary. I do regret that I did not leave them early. I should not have let them make so much money off me and treat me like that.
I will never ever work for such a contract-programmer providing company, that was not same as consulting. They don't give flat salary and benefits, I think the term "blood-sucker" must be used for them.

 
John Coxey
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First Light:
Glad to hear you got a decent paying job with decent benefits. Unfortunately, sometimes you gotta take a hit in pay to get the experience.
Contract work isn't bad - but you need to get a high enough rate to pay for your own benefits and the other 7.5% of social security tax (if you are a true independent).
If you have been following the other threads in the discuscussion area, you may have read that I recently signed up with an company in Denver, CO. Tomorrow is moving day (going from Philly to Denver - 2000 miles). So I am sitting here packing up all my junk.
Can't wait to get outta Philly.
Later,
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
Ranch Hand
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BTW, on the issue of employer taking a big %. A friend of mine works for a large DB company as a senior consultant, and makes 100k plus. Nice. But his company bills him at $600/hr to clients! That's about 1000%! He makes them over a million bucks a year!
That's how it goes, I guess.
e
 
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Eric,
I have heard upto $300 per hour. But $600 per hour seems unrealistic. Don't you think so ?
regds
maha anna
 
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I've been M/F contracting for 5 yrs and it's not a nice feeling knowing your agent takes in %1500 or so from your rate. The fact is, I've signed a contract for a rate I'm willing to work for and that I believe I would not have gotten otherwise given my situation at that point in time. My agent might have convinced the client to pay $500/hr for my services but what are the chances of convincing this client myself to pay me even half of that?
Most of my clients are very large corporation and therefore so beaureuratic that they won't deal individual consultants except thru agencies, citing legal blurbs, etc.
At the end of the contract 3, 6 mos. or 1yr. I've had the chance to prove to my client and my agent that my services are valuable enough to merit a considerable raise. Before my contract ends I'm testing the market by looking for other opportunities. This way I'll always have options when its time for the negotiation game.
There's a lesson to learn here from the fact that your agent was willing to "raise the ante" now that you already have a definite option. See, if I was your agent and I'm getting $35 w/ you mostly doing the work for me and you come to me and say you've found another option, would I really want to go to the trouble of looking for another person for the job? Remember, I have to explain to my client why they are losing this important resource and it will not leave a good impression to them if they lose you because of my greed or incompetence. So, if $40/hr or 45/hr was going to make you happy then I should not see a problem with that.
If you think about it you could have gotten $40/hr to start with but you just did not have enough options otherwise.
Now that you've signed for 80K, don't feel bad if you find people earning tons more than you do. You'd probably find contractors in your place getting 50-60/hr, who knows.
My point is, it's a jungle out there so be prepared to accept the harsh realities of life and the law of supply and demand. Just be true to yourself. Whether you're contracting or on full-time employment your neigbour's grass will always be greener so console yourself with the fact that you're doing what you love to do and getting paid for it. You will never be happy looking at the other side of the fence all the time.
You have 2 accounts to take care of. Your FINANCIALs may be up or down (just a little I hope) but your EXPERIENCEs will always grow (again, depending on your outlook).
------------------
~James Baud
Talk, does not cook rice. - Chinese Proverb
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