Oops, 7 Days. Hey look I don't update on weekends.

Want to hit the reset button

Okay, I need to try something different. I don't know whether programming is just not the career for me, or whether I feel burned out on it because of my crappy job, but I feel like I'm slowly being crushed by a sense that what I do has no meaning, for me or for the world at large.

Thinking back, I remember lots of people telling me that most people don't end up doing the thing they studied in college for a living. I don't know what the numbers are on that, but I've heard it frequently enough to be encouraged that my CS degree doesn't tie me to being a code monkey forever. Trouble is, I don't know where to start. I would like to do something creative, like writing or working in film, but I don't have any relevant education or experience. Will I be able to start fresh, with some tolerable quality of life (I don't have many expenses beyond living in a decent apartment)?

Have any of you just up and revamped your whole approach to your career? Did it work out well? If it didn't, were you able to pick up the pieces afterwards? What was the experience like?

For reference, I'm in my mid twenties, unmarried, unattached, and I have about $20k in my savings account to draw upon for the transition (period of unemployment, starting from the bottom, etc).
Permalink Used to be a semi-regular 
January 11th, 2006
"I'm in my mid twenties, unmarried, unattached, and I have about $20k in my savings account to draw upon for the transition (period of unemployment, starting from the bottom, etc)."
Jeeze, man! Your question answers itself. Well, if I were in your position, at least, I'd go back to school. A school with a decent writing program like (don't laugh) Iowa U.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 11th, 2006
Oh, yeah... the question you asked was different.
I myself have not hit the reset button but I do know one person who did: successful I-banker, got cancer, re-examined life, became massage therapist. For real.
Yeah, it can totally be done.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 11th, 2006
"became a Massage Therapist" -- little secret -- ANYBODY, at any time, can become a Massage Therapist. It's right up there with getting your Realtor's license. My point being it's much easier to do that than to switch from being a Programmer to being an Electrical Engineer. Engineering firms tend to frown on that sort of thing. EE to Programmer works well, though.

Now, if you want to start again, mid-20's is a good time to do it. Go get a Masters Degree in your new chosen industry and go for it.

I just didn't want the apparent ease of going from anything to Massage Therapist to be thought of as typical.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 11th, 2006
Before you do anything drastic, figure out why you are unhappy... what if your new career leads to the same feelings? What specifically sucks about Comp sci? There is a great motivational speech a professor at U of MD gives every year called the happiness speech. Basically people continually say "I'll be happier when...: I grow up, get a drivers license, get out of the house, get a job, get married, etc..." until they will be happier when they are dead. I'm not saying you won't be happier in a new career, but people often don't end up happier when they get what they want. Make lemons out of lemonade. Try another job first, etc... Have you ever enjoyed programming? Maybe try starting your own company, or using your current company to branch into a new career (for example my wife switched from accounting to recruiting within her company...which would have been impossible to start at another company).
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
"Make lemons out of lemonade."

lol its late, you get what i mean.
Permalink Phil 
January 11th, 2006
"For reference, I'm in my mid twenties, unmarried, unattached, and I have about $20k in my savings account to draw upon for the transition"

Get married, buy a home, have kids...
Permalink Almost H. Anonymous 
January 11th, 2006
Ah, thanks for the condenscension, Allan. It seems you've missed the point. Yeah, -- little secret -- ANYBODY can be a massage therapist, or realtor, or software developer for that matter. (Succeeding at it is another story, as evidenced by the posts at thedailywtf.com, but that's also somewhat irrelevant). The point is that people can make strange, incongrous changes in their lives and still the sun will rise, birds will chirp and life goes on. You're not necessarily forever bound to be who you think you are today. That's all.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 11th, 2006
why not look into something combining what you know and what you want to do like CS & Writing. Isn't it supposed to be difficult to find writers that know anything/much about CS/Software/... ?
Permalink PNII 
January 11th, 2006
You might want to pick up a copy of "What Color is your Parachute?" While earlier versions were aimed more at folks just starting out, newer editions also cover people changing careers. When I was working on my Masters, one of the things they'd tell folks in "freshman orientation" is that folks starting out in "adult life" can expect to have 5 complete changes of career in their working life.

Professions like engineering have a rather short half-life: for engineering, it is 7 years. If you *do* invest in a new college degree, will it repay the student loans in 5 years or less?

My experiences have been that career changes were never voluntary (for me).
Permalink Peter 
January 11th, 2006
Fair enough, I over-reacted.

I just wanted to advise that if he wanted to be a massage therapist, he had lots of time to decide that. If he wants to be a EE, or a physicist, or join the Navy, he can do that now, where he won't be able to do that later.

I was a little heavy handed about it, I agree.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 11th, 2006
S'all right, Allan.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 11th, 2006
I know a guy who went from carpenter to accountant, and now is going into teaching. Apparantly it's possible to change careers. ;)
Permalink  
January 12th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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