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exit strategies

What is your exit strategy for leaving your career in IT?

I have tried, and can't visualize myself sitting at a desk in front of a computer when i'm 50 (i'm 29). Even if I wanted to, I just dont see the opportunity for making a decent living to still be there. As a manager, maybe. but I really have no desire to manage IT projects.

anyway, I'm currently looking at becoming an ICU nurse or an ASE certified mechanic for "luxury" vehicles.  i'd have to start out at the bottom, but after 5 years each seems to pay about the same as a developer with 5 years of experience. (i.e. about $100,000). Both seem sort of interesting and useful, and I'd get to be up and about, rather than chained to a desk.

What are other people planning?

ps: this might seem like a troll, but i'm actually curious.

strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

If you haven't already, start becoming frugal.  That will facilitate any transition you make. 

Also, to compuound that, if you can get a raise elsewhere, or a fat contract, go do the 'shit' work that you would have otherwise turned down in the past.  Put in the hours, if needed. 

Any define a clear, CONCRETE exit path and exit criteria to be met, otherwise you may never get the nerve to make the change.

Bella
Saturday, May 18, 2002

> can't visualize myself sitting at a desk in front of a computer when i'm 50

What's all the negativity towards desk jobs ?  I love desks.  You can put books on them.  You can rest your elbows on them.  It's a good place to put your lunch.  It provides a nice flat writing surface.  It sure beats standing around all day.  Easy on the feet.  Go ask some local trademen about all the aches and pains they live with day in and day out.

And what's so bad about being near a computer all day?  You're read THIS, arent you?  If you're a programmer, you clearly LOVE computers.  This should be a godsend.  I wonder if racecar drives complain about having to drive to the grocery store on the weekends...

Bella
Saturday, May 18, 2002

you can make 100K w/ 5yrs experience hah?

No BS
Saturday, May 18, 2002

I agree, this isn't a "bad" job, i just cant fathom doing it for the next 20 years.

I'm not so interested in discussing why the industry does or doesnt suck. I'm more interested in learning about what other people plan on doing outside of IT, if anything. I guess i've been doing this too long, (10 years), because it is very difficult for me to even think of anything else I could do that pays more than about $8/hr. Are there career counselors for former programmers?

strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

no BS, if you live in silicon valley, NYC, or boston, certainly you can make $100K with 5 years of experience (it isn't as easy any more, but not impossible). I was making $80K with 2 years of experience in MINNESOTA when I was 21.

It is more a factor of being a shark about getting paid than it is about racking up experience or on the job brownie points...

strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

also Bella, i'm not sure if "love computers" is the right description. in my case, its more of a strange obessive compulsion, rather than "love."

again however, it would be interesting if this thread didn't flame out into a big boring rant about how IT sucks, or how I suck, or how everything sucks, and we should all just live with it. (however, i'm not too hopeful) i'm truly interested in if other people have "real" plans for exiting the software/IT industry, and what those plans are.

strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

strategist, i have a feeling you're the same person as quitter in one of the other boards. I think you need therapy because you're terribly pathetic.

Keep blaming the IT world for your problems, though. It will do you good. That way, when you become a banker or a car mechanic and hate that too, you'll have plenty of practice in blaming your "industry"

It's nice, though, that you use boards that are normally for software to ask people what their advice is for someone who hates software development.

Are you really this pathetic?

quitter = strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

oops. busted.
the real trick will be to figure out which weblog is mine.

quitter
Saturday, May 18, 2002

Actually, the real trick will be to see how much more pathetic you can become before the entire internet becomes naseuated with your self-absorbed bellyaching.

Maybe you do need malaria. Then you'll have a real reason to complain.

Sorry I don't think making 100K is all that bad. Why don't you just go away and do something else instead of asking stupid hollow questions on internet boards??

quitter = strategist
Saturday, May 18, 2002

strategist, quitter, who the hell ever...

This is a legitimate question.

There's a reason there's so few old programmers.

Johnny Simmson
Saturday, May 18, 2002

So what do old people do besides sell and talk the talk? I am young and the industries I have been involved in only had young people (programming and trading). I would like to know what people over 40 or 50 do for a living?

Jeb
Saturday, May 18, 2002

Develop software...  many go freelance to avoid ageism amongst cretinous HR departments (if that isn't an oxymoron),
gradually they wind down the number of days they work in a week. I probably know more 50something programmers than 20something ones. 

Armand Tansarian
Saturday, May 18, 2002

It sounds like Strategist is just confused about life.  That's the problem.  I don't mean that as a slight or an insult.  Where I work there are lots of older programmers, and they seem to be quite satisfied with their jobs.  They seem to enjoy their work well enough -- it presents constant challenges, there are lots of opportunities to do innovative things, and the people we work with are pretty nice.

Having spent years being spoiled in graduate school, thinking that life is all about doing exactly what you want, I'm finally learning that there are very few jobs that people would keep doing if they didn't need the paycheck.  Our society doesn't work that way, except for a very, very lucky few.

Just curious:

Why in the world would being an ACE mechanic for luxury vehicles be any more rewarding than computer programming?  Because you get to get under a car and get your hands greasy? 

And why would nursing be any more rewarding than computer programming?  Most nurses I know hate their jobs -- they hate the health care system, hate the patients, hate getting treated like crap by doctors.

a programmer
Saturday, May 18, 2002

Quitter, I'm 49 and still working as a software developer. At times I have got sick of my job too, it happens to anybody who does the same type of work for a long time.

I've mentioned this before on anther thread, work less, re focus, earn less until you find something worth the effort.

I'm lucky, I've been working as an independant contractor for 23 years, I've never been out of work unless I wanted to be and I still like what I do and have more work that I can shake a stick at. But, like yourself, at times I've thought that its boring or whatever, and each time I felt like this I needed a decent break, pure and simple.

Still now when I'm in the zone with something I enjoy doing I can pull 18 hour days if I want too and not notice that I've missed the last train home, whatever, my point being that even though I've felt tired burnt out in the past (probably more that 10 - 15 years ago now the first time), I still like what I do and at the moment I love the project I am working on, my wife has to pull me away from the PC sometimes. I might hate my next project, who knows. There are no hard and fast rules, none of the cliches fit, some jobs you love, some you dont mind, some you hate.
I am more selective now, rarely do I accept a job that I dont like the sound off just for the money.

If you hate your job find another one, if you hate that one find another one, if you hate that one, quit.

Tony
Saturday, May 18, 2002

I for one am getting mighty bored of these "I hate programming - what should I do?" posts.

If you don't like your career, change careers.  No one is forcing you to be a programmer.


Had to get that off my chest. ;)

Matthew Lock
Saturday, May 18, 2002

To all those people asking what people do when they reach 40 or 50 - how old do you think Bill Joy or James Blinn are? And I guess this could be a very long list.

Hugh Wells
Sunday, May 19, 2002

I understand where strategist is coming from.  I was getting kinda bored with some of the projects at work (but i still love it), so i went back to school to get my BS in CS, and I started a auto body shop with a couple friends.  i still plan on programming, because i love it.  but i found some ways to mix things up a bit and keep me challenged.

Nathan
Sunday, May 19, 2002

Im working part time as a college teacher/lecturer. Its a great combo. Teaching is quite stressfull in its way but its fun to meet students and be out and about.
Also I am employed on a yearly basis, so I get a steady paycheck from the college. So even if I dont get any good freelance jobs I know I will have enough money to get by.
The students values my "real life" experience as most of their other teachers only have academic knowlege of programming.

Eric Debois
Sunday, May 19, 2002

There aren't many 50+ programmers b/c programing is a relatively new field.  People who are 50, would have had to have started programming in 1970.  Anyone care to dig up labor stats on how many programmer (or systems analyst) jobs there were in 1970 compared to today?  My point is that 30 years from now, there will be a hell of a lot more 50+ programmers.  It's not inherent in the career itself, I say.

Bella
Sunday, May 19, 2002

oops. busted. the real trick will be to figure out which weblog is mine.


I love puzzles!  But give us a hint to start with....What site is your weblog on?

Bella
Sunday, May 19, 2002

I saw these stats a while back, thought they were interesting.

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/itaa.real.html#tth_sEc5.1


"These attrition rates are striking. Five years after finishing college, about 60 percent of computer science graduates are working as programmers; at 15 years the figure drops to 34 percent, and at 20 years - when most are still only age 42 or so - it is down to 19 percent. Clearly part of this attrition is voluntary, but most are forced to seek other work when they see the handwriting on the cubicle wall: Employers do not want to hire older programmers.

It should be noted that other technical fields do not show this rapid decline of work in their area. For example, consider civil engineering majors. Six years after graduation, 61% of them are working as civil engineers, and 20 years after graduation, the rate is still 52%; compare this to the decline for computer science majors from 57% to 19% seen above. "

Johnny Simmson
Sunday, May 19, 2002

Since programming has paid such obscene salaries, at least in the past 5 years, a significant portion could be retired by that age...

Also, considering the "anti-social" stereotype of socially illiterate, obsessive programmers, a greater percentage of programmers may not be married with children.  This results in more financial independence than the average person, allowing a greater portion to retire early.

Bella
Sunday, May 19, 2002

Bella, I can't figure out if you're trolling or being serious.

Congratulations.

Johnny Simmson
Sunday, May 19, 2002

>>>What is your exit strategy for leaving your career in IT?<<<

The idea of leaving software development has occurred to me a few times, but I haven't thought of anything I'd rather be doing.

My current strategy is to try to find a way to get out of the Dilbert zone.  I have worked in an environment where I enjoyed coming to work in the morning.  That place disappeared when the dot com bubble burst, but I don't yet believe that was the only decent work place in existence.

At this point I am going to start going to a few conferences and local professional organizations and start finding contacts.  This will take some months before I can determine my next step.

mackinac
Sunday, May 19, 2002

I know a fair number of programmers in the 50+ club. One thing they seem to have in common is they are all technical wizards, and very highly regarded by their employers.

I suspect a mediocre programmer with 20 years experience may not significantly outperform a mediocre programmer with 5 years experience. (If they were actually learning, they wouldn't still be mediocre!) Thusly, there is a cost/benefit disparity.

On the other hand, if I could get a few of those 50+ tech wizards, some venture funding, and a good product idea, I could rule silicon valley! (Of course, they might ask why they need me :)

b
Sunday, May 19, 2002

I agree with "a programmer." You have to figure out what would be better about a different job, be it mechanic, nursing, or whatever. A lot of the time you can delude yourself into thinking another course will be more fulfilling but it won't.

Or maybe you're just unhappy with your job, and a job at a different place in the same field may cheer you up.

I agree that being frugal and investing is wise no matter what your career. There are some fun planning tools on schwab.com, and once you know how they work you can program your own. For some reason 12% seems to be the magic number for retirement income.

You should also look at things outside your career. Perhaps it's not what you do 9am - 5pm that needs changing, but rather what you do from 5pm - 9am.

MarkTAW
Monday, May 20, 2002

"but after 5 years each seems to pay about the same as a developer with 5 years of experience. (i.e. about $100,000). "

Sure you can....I've been in IT for 14 years and make about half of that (not in the US).

Brad Clarke
Monday, May 20, 2002

"There aren't many 50+ programmers b/c programing is a relatively new field. People who are 50, would have had to have started programming in 1970. "

I know a programmer in Germany who is 55.  He started programming in 1966 and he still does it today and enjoys it very much. 

Brad Clarke
Monday, May 20, 2002

http://editorial.careers.msn.com/articles/mistakes/

<a href="http://editorial.careers.msn.com/articles/mistakes/">Career change mistakes</a>

Bella
Tuesday, May 21, 2002

as far as the 12% goes, that is because it is the historical average return of the S&P 500 (which approximates the historical average return of the stock market as a whole).

bryan
Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Annual 12% is an absurd assumption for the next decade. 
Annual -12% would be closer to reality.

Quiz:  If you started with $1000, and realized a -12% loss each year, what would you have at the end of 100 years.?

Hint:  Anyone recall the logarithmic exponential decay formula from High School ? 

Bella
Wednesday, May 22, 2002

...And the NASDAQ will never reach 10,000.

No offense, but I tend to disregard any prediction about the future of the stock market unless it's based on strongly documented historical trends.  Just because America's going through a downturn right now doesn't mean that it will continue for a decade.

The S&P 500 *has* had a documented 12% rate of growth for decades, just like the Dow.  They're pretty safe bets.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Market went bezerk in last decade.  It looks like we've got YEARS of declines to get us back into line with your historical average of 12%. 

Bella
Wednesday, May 22, 2002

i plan to write after spending my life energy on computers. this is mainly why i read joels site: he can write (and quite a lot of you on the forum!).
i was thinking about childrens books or computer literature.

am am 22 now. computers are still fun, but i don't want to be here in 20 years: the zombie mode i fall into after a day of work just doesn't justify the pay.

concrete exit plan:
practice writing. so far i am writing my thoughts to my child who will, hopefully, be born sometime mid-november. i find specs interesting for practice as well.

sadly, though, i never learned to write in english, so i suck (kinda). but i can communicate my thoughts in german (will that sell?)

Daren Thomas
Monday, June 03, 2002

One of my coworkers, a Foxpro developer, happens to be a  WW 2 veteran. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 or 1944 at the age of 17.

He only comes in one or two afternoons a week now.

Cow Orker
Monday, June 03, 2002

I'm 27 and thinking about getting out now.  While I like to develop software, I hate being inside and at a desk all day. It's like I'm schizophrenic. I like the outdoors, nature, camping, kayaking, mountain biking. Despite being good at and enjoying my job, I'm gonna regret it 10 years from now.

Maybe I can become a park ranger.

Mark
Tuesday, June 04, 2002

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