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Starting all over again

Hi guys
I'm burned. I've had so many problems at work that I'm completely burned with IT and software development in general. No more side projects or all nighters for me. I'm tired of it.
I am 25 years old and I am about to start a new career. But I have a question. When I finish my BA, I'll be 30. Has anyone did this before? Start a new career from scratch and fight the tide of younger competitors for the positions? How do you find a new career?

TIA

Tire of this
Friday, February 13, 2004

I'd say the average age in my class at law school (night school) was about 30. I think the important thing is to focus on how you can leverage your experience to benefit your "new career"

Philo

Philo
Friday, February 13, 2004

Ive changed careers 3 times now, dont sweat it...its easy, interesting and keeps life exciting :)

FullNameRequired
Friday, February 13, 2004

How did you deal with the age stigma? How did you deal with those younger kids coming fresh from college?

Tire of this
Friday, February 13, 2004

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that starting over in a new career is a _bad_ idea.  But before you do, you might want to ask yourself why it is that you're burnt out at 25.

When I entered university I made a promise to myself, and that was that I would never pull an all-nighter to do work no matter how behind I was.  Better to get a bad mark on an assignment and be fresh the next day than to get into a downward spiral of sleeplessness and burnout. (All nighters to play euchre, that's different...)

And every time I get a new manager, I tell them that I'm one of those employees who works sensible hours.  Of course I'll come in extra hours if there is a crisis, and by the way, I consider crises to be a sign of bad management, so if you want me to keep working for you, keep the rate of crisis down!

I've managed to avoid burnout so far, and people are starting to refer to me as an "old timer" -- which is odd, being an old-timer at 31. 

Long hours and stressful deadlines are hardly unique to the software business -- in fact, it's probably worse in law and accounting, and definately worse in medicine. 

I'm just saying, whereever you go, there _you_ are.  Changing careers might be no help, and may in fact make it worse.

But that's just my experience, not yours.  What is it in particular that's burning you out?  And what are you looking for in a new career?

Eric Lippert
Friday, February 13, 2004

It wasnt the all nighters. In fact, all nighters are the things that worry me the least. I could pull them without any problems. The thing is, I'm tired of contract positions, I'm tired of looking at wanted ads in the newspaper and not finding anything.
I was recently hired by a company and when they realized they didn't need me anymore they made sure I left by myself. They raised hell so they didn't have to fire me (this is outside the US, where employment laws are a whole different game).
Now I've been in the middle of a fight because two companies were fighting over my resume for the same contract job.

All of this had been grinding me down very slowly and it's killing me. Why do I have to go through this? I want out, I want to quit and do something else with my life. Got any sugestions?

Tire of this
Friday, February 13, 2004

Plumbing looks like a better job to me every day.
Can't be outsourced, people fight to employ you
rather than the other way round, pay's good, etc etc.

PS
Watch Office Space.
"If you had a million dollars, what would you do?"

A
Friday, February 13, 2004

Eric,

Suprising hearing this from a MSFT employee, but what are you work hours & how many hours do you work in a week?

Prakash S
Friday, February 13, 2004

Happiest guy I know runs a tiny HVAC repair company. He makes really good money, probably more than most of his lawyer customers and certainly much more than his programmer customers. He's got enough time to record music and coach kid's soccer. Looks pretty good right now. I know his white-collar customers look down on him and he enjoys the irony.

tk
Friday, February 13, 2004

Eric - Well put! I just had this realization as I was laid off from my last job and started fresh with a new job. I work 40 hours, no more taking work home, no more ignoring my family for the benefit of my employer. I am a more productive worker, about fifty times happier and I get to play with my kid.

Tire of this - Figure out where your priorities are and what you value in life. Maybe you need to find steady software work as a start to level things out. Don't abandon something that you presumably loved at some point.

m
Friday, February 13, 2004

I've changed careers twice. In fact I guess I started the last one about two years ago. It is good fun.

Generally people have things they find interesting or are good at. Follow one of those.

Age can be an issue, especially for people over 40, but it's not insurmountable. You have to learn to act like the people you're studying or working with.

For example, in my engineering class, we had a guy who had retired from the Navy with a nice pension and a family and house and everything, but he wanted to be an engineer. He was just like one of the guys with a few unusual features, such as being old enough to be our Dad.

He got a job with the government.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Same boat, 25yo, I love software development, but there are no jobs in my area, so I am taking an Auto CAD course, have enrolled in a B. Engineering (Electrical) course and am applying for a traineeship at a local council.

If I do do the degree then I will have a B. Comp Sci, and a B. Engineering (Electrical) which has to impress somebody...Otherwise I have just had a heck of a lot of fun (I love studying so much) and will continue working part-time and writing software on the side.

It helps having a partner who works fulltime and understands that you are a very intelligent person who needs to work in a challenging environment, answering phones and doing IT support at an Accounting firm just doesn't cut it for me.

Aussie Chick
Saturday, February 14, 2004

Also, unless you are married or have a family, you are more then capable of working full-time and studying full-time. It is hard going but you get your degree quickly.

Aussie Chick
Saturday, February 14, 2004

"How did you deal with the age stigma? "

<g> at 25 thats not going to be a problem.

seriously though, learning new stuff requires a willingness to admit that you dont know something....The older you get and the more experience you gain the more quickly you learn new stuff anyway, and the more quickly you can adapt to new work enviornments...and therefore the shorter the period of ignorance you will go through.

<g> after enough time, a job in one industry begins to feel surprisingly like a job in a different industry...but thats a different thread.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, February 14, 2004

Twenty-five is a good age to decide what you "really" want to do. I'd say it took you long enough to decide that software doesn't have a future as a career.

I had a family member who decided at the same age to go back to university and finish a B.Sc. in a pure science. He now has a doctorate and a real future in something that won't be boring after six months.

All the best students are over 25. They contribute to the classses, not just sit there like passive sponges.

You'll be "over-25" a lot longer than you were "under-25".

Good luck at whatever you choose!

anon
Saturday, February 14, 2004

I have the option of going to medical school, which is possibly the biggest shift I could do...  but I feel like I have seen it all so far in software (at least all I wanted to see).

this is quite and interesting thread...

michael
Saturday, February 14, 2004

> what are you work hours & how many
>  hours do you work in a week?

It varies from team to team and person to person, so it is hard to generalize -- so take this with a grain of salt, as this is my experience, not everyone's experience.

Hours are extremely flexible.  Some teams have "core hours", ie, "you can work whenever you want, as long as you're in from 1000h to 1500h so that we can schedule meetings."  Some teams don't and you can come in whenever you want.  There are a few people who prefer to work nights. 

Me, I usually get to work between 0800h and 1000h -- closer to 1000h these days -- and leave between 1800h and 2100h depending on when I got in and the traffic situation on the bridges.

As for hours in general -- basically you have a bunch of work that has to get done by a certain date, and no one cares how many hours you spend doing it as long as it gets done without slipping the schedule.  This is a very goal-oriented company, not a clock-watching company.

I try to work 40-45 hour weeks when possible, and if there's some crisis or whatever, I'll work extra.  But I try to maintain a good work-life balance.

And of course, there are _plenty_ of people who for whatever reason spend 60+ hours at work.  As a shareholder, I'm pro that!  Those people deserve to be compensated more than me, and if they spend those 60 hours being productive, they certainly will be.  But I'm not one of those people, and I make sure that I'm working for teams where management understands the importance of keeping me not burned out for the _next_ ten years.

In fact, I'm at work right now, as we've got a deadline coming up and I'm a couple days behind due to some last-minute design changes that weren't fully baked when we agreed to them.  I should get back to work and stop reading forums...

Eric Lippert
Saturday, February 14, 2004

> I want out, I want to quit and do something
>  else with my life. Got any sugestions?

It's hard to say, because I don't know where you live or what you like to do or anything.  If you're worried about _money_, my general advice would be to think about the long-term demographics. 

Becoming a travel agent or opening a video store right now are bad, bad ideas, at least in the United States.  But in the US, all those rich baby boomers are about to retire and cash out their pensions.  Starting a business which caters to well-off older people is a pretty good idea -- those guys have money and they're willing to spend it.

If you're not worried about money, then, hey, do whatever you want.  I mean, I love my job, but there are plenty of days when becoming a professional kite builder/author/piano bar pianist/whatever is attractive.  If I only had that million bucks...

Eric Lippert
Saturday, February 14, 2004

Money doesn't fund dreams.

http://www.fastcompany.com/online/66/mylife.html

Much happier since I gave up programming
Sunday, February 15, 2004

I find it hard to dream when I'm hungry.

Tired of this
Sunday, February 15, 2004

Perhaps your discomfort level isn't high enough. I was in a similar position to you and realized I just didn't want to do programming any more. But it was fairly easy to do and paid the bills and so I "put up with it" for quite a while. Then I decided I just wasn't going to put up with this crap any longer.

You have to reach a point when you'd much rather call in sick than go in to work to do something that your heart isn't in any more. When I reached that point, I found that I really did begin to plan how I was going to follow my dreams. First you take the baby steps, read up about stuff,  talk to local business owners. And see that the future really does seem brighter .Then you jump right in.

As far as ideas of what to do - read some of the entrepreneurial type magazines/websites for inspiration. Maybe you're into scuba diving. Why not start a dive boat operation? Or Home automation - catering to the rich. Anything you think you'd really enjoy doing - but just do it!

Much happier since I gave up programming
Sunday, February 15, 2004

I've never seen myself as an entrepreneur. My plan is to take on the fact that I'm still 25 and go back to college. Take an accounting degree or something similar and start all over again.
BUT: is this possible? Like I said I'll be 30 when I finish, how will the marketplace look at me? I heard that companies only hire when you're in your tweaties. How do I manage myself when I reach my thirties?

Tired of this
Sunday, February 15, 2004

"And of course, there are _plenty_ of people who for whatever reason spend 60+ hours at work.  As a shareholder, I'm pro that!  Those people deserve to be compensated more than me, and if they spend those 60 hours being productive, they certainly will be."

That's a big IF.  People who consistently work over 60 hours at a programming job are often no more productive than those who put in a diligent 40-45.

T. Norman
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

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