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research analyst job: more like 'office space?'

Hi.
I've been a professional programmer for a while, and am kind of (er, extremely) burned out on programming. Much of my work has been as an independent consultant, doing 'research like' programming for various organizations.

For instance, most recently I was doing proof of concept applications for a large mobile carrier. This involved creating demo apps for various smart phones. Prior to that I evaluated intranet systems for the same mobile provider, gave a recommendation, and helped hire a guy to implement it. Prior to that I helped a bioinformatics lab do a proof of concept application using .NET stuff. Prior to that I helped out with a medical / ecommerce system. And so forth.

I was trying to figure out what else I could do that didn't involved programming. I could just do research and write documents. Sure the pay won't be as good, but that's not a big deal at the moment - I have a lot saved up.  I was browsing around craig's list and found this ad:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/eng/24667805.html

That seems right up my alley, as I already know a lot about personal technology, and I can write reasonably well, put together a power point, bla bla.

What I'm wondering though, would this job be the most hellish "office space" like job I could imagine?  Anyone ever worked as a research analyst? I'm mostly looking for a reasonably easy 9-5 job where I just cook up some reports and am not on the hook for providing tech support for some application I wrote. I want to take some night classes.  Any opinions on the research associate job, or even this company in particular would be appreciated.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Bummer about getting burned out, but that seems pretty common these days, unfortunately.  Sorry I can't answer your research analyst question, but I do have a question for you.

I was wondering, during your experience as an independent contractor, did you get to interact a lot with other programmers?  I don't mean in a "here's the specs" kind of sense.  I mean brainstorming together, bouncing ideas off of someone, chit chatting about the latests developments in software.  Interacting daiily on an intellectual level that left you feeling energized afterwards.

I used to think it was the type of work that I was dissastified with.  "Oh if my company was working with this technology I'd be much happier."  Then I realized the problem wasn't the work, but how we did the work.  At my place, everyone works on their own section of the product.  There's very little interaction except during handoff and integration.  I find it's extremely boring and draining to spend all day in my cube with only my own thoughts.  When I come up with a real elegant solution, no one's there to appreciate it.  Sure everyone is friendly and sociable, but when it comes to the work itself, we don't have anything in common.

There can be many reasons for being burned out, but you might want to consider if it's a lack of stimulating interaction with your peers.  I was looking at a potential job once, then I realized that I would be the only engineer while everyone else would be biology PhDs.  It can be real tough to be the lone guy.

None the less, I encourage you to explore other possible jobs like that research analyst gig.  Change can be a good thing to get you out of a rut.  But just like debugging software, make sure you understand the root cause of your problem, so you can avoid it in the future.

Best of luck!

VP
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My experience was similar to yours and I started doing research type work and found it wsa unbelievably good.

I used to get paid to surf the internet and read reports, and I was only expected to produce a report every two weeks or so. Of course, the acid test is that the report must be good.

The job you pointed to is not a good one. It's a junior job. You would find it worse than the programming.

I somehow lucked into a very senior role first off, reporting directly to the CEO.

Me and the view out the window
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I know a former programmer, who has 5 years experience out of university, whoswitched to being an analyst and is now making a salary of USD $142,000 per year.

So your line of thinking might be worth investigating...

burninator
Thursday, February 19, 2004

For me, it was a way to get into research as such. In most businesses, you won't do that in programming jobs.

I really loved it. Your job becomes to be the expert. The CEO and people like that would actually ask me what I thought of things and then act on it. It was a bit scary in a way.

Me and the view out the window
Thursday, February 19, 2004

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