So I've had a series of really bad experiences and am wondering what I'm doing wrong.
I started out as a part time programmer at a major university. I developed a problem with my wrist and asked (nicely) for some help with my ergonomic accomodations.
My boss started screaming at me, then later claimed I screamed at her. When questioned about it, she just started sobbing. Luckily, there were others around who heard the screaming and knew I was telling the truth. She was eventually let go.
My contract went up and I switched jobs, this time to a startup. Well, we went several months without my getting a development machine. When the economy tanked, they started asking for insane amounts of overtime. I complied because I was afraid of having to look for work. The final straw was they contacted me right before my father's funeral to fix a problem.
I was laid off, didn't receive my final check on time and the company screwed my COBRA up to the point where I couldn't get prescriptions for months. They recently were fined by the State of X for what they did. Now, even though I worked my heart out for them and they were willing before being fined, they are refusing to provide a reference.
I took a new job quickly, mainly because I really needed my health insurance set up. They wanted me to do several months of work in a couple of weeks. They had no project plan. Their customers were seriously not doing well, as whole sections of the application would stop working if someone ran a spell check. Even though they had completely unreasaonble expectations about my work, they were happy to say it would take several months to repair the spell check bug. There was virtually no training.
They had me interviewing candidates and I selected one. Apparently, that person was my replacement because I was let go after a few months.
Recently, my former boss called my current employer and made up allegations that I am discouraging people from applying to open positions at his firm, which is insane because I didn't even know they were hiring.
I feel like I have a T-shirt that says, "If you're insane or would like someone to kick around and treat badly, hire me!".
Then again, when I look at some programmers' resumes, I do see horror stories, too.
So are there things I can do differently to avoid these problems? Is it part of our profession that people do not have standards? Perhaps it is a personality issue, that resides purely with me?
Has anyone else had a series of bad experiences and turned things around?