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I'm DOne.  I Don't Want To Be A Developer Anymore.

This is an extension of my career rant from a couple of weeks ago, but it's been building ever since my "In Search of the Peopleware Workplace" post here a couple years ago.  And I've been fighting it. 

But as hard as I push myself, as many hours as I force myself to bill as I rebuild the finances that were devastated by being laid off, as hard as I try to stay interested enough to pick up some .NET skills, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: I just don't want to DO this anymore.

I used to feel like it was leading someplace - I've mentioned that I was on a track that led to Project Management - but right now, working as a consultant, I feel like I'm going nowhere.  And I don't know what to do about it.

I don't know what else to say. 

Norrick
Thursday, February 26, 2004

"as hard as I try to stay interested enough to pick up some .NET skills, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: I just don't want to DO this anymore."

That's how I feel about Windows and SQL Server and I'm a dba.  Pretty bad huh?  I just hate dealing with their bugs and the fact that anyone with any real amount of data is running another OS and RDBMS (Mainframe, Unix, Oracle, DB2 etc).  Factor that with I don't like the direction MS is taking and it just makes my attitude worse.  I think I'm at the point, I'll leave IT if I have to keep supporting Microsoft technologies.  Give me Unix, give me OS400, give me OS/390, Linux, Oracle, DB2, anything but Windows.  I've been a SQL Server admin for 2 years and haven't learned shit and don't plan to.

Bottoms up
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Norrick, I'm with you on this. The pushing down of rates, the relentless undermining of professionalism, the lack of recognition for good work - all these have turned me off commercial developing.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

Congratulations on seeing the light, Norrick.  It takes a bold person to reassess their life and decide that what they're doing currently is not fulfilling.  The next logical step is to decide which road out of the many that are available you will take next. 

You've done the hard part.  You've looked inside yourself and found that something wasn't quite right.  The next step will be easier.  Just follow your heart and there is no way you can go wrong.     

courage
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Go get some Brian Tracy cd's or book, or Robbins or somebody.  Decide what YOU want to do then just do it. 

Nike Nike Nike
Thursday, February 26, 2004

I disagree that he's done the hard part. The hard part is deciding what you do want to do, not what you don't want to do.

There are 1000s of jobs I know I DON'T want to do, but I don't know what I DO want to do yet! :)

Sum Dum Gai
Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'm thinking about applying to the FBI.

Norrick
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hey Bottoms Up - nice troll! :)

Philo

Philo
Thursday, February 26, 2004

hahaha.  So true Philo, so true.

I've just been doing resume/phone screening the last couple weeks, and after talking to most of these people, I've come to the conclusion that two thirds the people shouldn't be in this industry. 

vince
Thursday, February 26, 2004

It took you all these years to come to that conclusion?

T. Norman
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hm Norrick, I too have been thinking of the FBI - I take it you saw their call for 900,000 intelligence analysts and all they require is a college degree.

I'm great at finding patterns and I'm naturally paranoid so it seems the perfect job. I've already found and turned in a couple of al qaeda cells just from screwing around with google and other tools tracking down weird net scams that aroused my suspicion. Lot's of fun and more satisfying than consulting. Would be awesome to get paid to be professionally suspicious.

Maybe I'll see you at the bureau someday!!

Dennis Atkins
Friday, February 27, 2004

I haven't had the misfortune of being out of work and I'm currently
working on a client server development using vb.net.

Even thought it's a 'new' technology, ultimately it's identically the same to what's
come before, ie. - the same head with a different haircut, same shit, different bucket.

My work pipeline goes for about another year, I'm currently on $75 per hour as a technical lead
(I also have a huge amount of business experience in the industry I work in)
and it's going to be hard to let it go, especially as they'll start shovelling cash at me when I tell them I want to leave.

But let it go I must, for the same reasons you mention.

Realist
Friday, February 27, 2004

Dennis- lol.  Thats fantastic. 

Realist- haven't seen you around here in a while.  Making a crapload of money keepin you busy?

vince
Friday, February 27, 2004

Learn Arabic. I hear the CIA is having a hard time finding any American who really speaks the language :-)

Fred
Friday, February 27, 2004

And for British 'Norricks', MI5 can now recruit thousands more analysts http://www.mi5.gov.uk/

It used to be that The National Health Service was the largest employer, actually I think the second largest employer on the planet after the Red Army of the PRC, now it feels like its going to be the security industry.

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 27, 2004

-----"I've already found and turned in a couple of al qaeda cells just from screwing around with google and other tools tracking down weird net scams that aroused my suspicion."------

The worrying thing about this post is that Dennis might be serious!

If any frequent posters suddenly disappear from this board perhaps we should be trying to find them a Guatanamo or San Diego.

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 27, 2004

"If any frequent posters suddenly disappear from this board perhaps we should be trying to find them a Guatanamo or San Diego."

May be he's already writing from there :)

Michael Popov
Friday, February 27, 2004

>I'm thinking about applying to the FBI.

That's what I am doing.  Boy, when there comes a day in which I don't have to worry about keeping up with the IT fads...

MR
Friday, February 27, 2004

"all they require is a college degree"

And no history of using the Chronic.  I didn't know you could GET a college degree w/o smoking some dope.

The Ted
Friday, February 27, 2004

I was in your situation a little over a year ago.  I even contemplated the FBI thing but unfortunately for me I have medical issues that would make that impossible.  Since I was 8 years old I have always loved playing around with computers.  But after working at a horrible place where I had constantly had one foot out the door and another on a banana peel I was sick of it.  I spent months looking for a new job and went from the frying pan into the fire with the new place.  Not surprisingly, that place self destructed quickly.  I decided to go on a long shot and I approached a customer of the former company who I really liked dealing with.  They were a small privately held construction company who had only two people that did IT let alone any developers.  They hired me and now I am back to being excited when I wake because I can’t wait to get to work.  The big difference is that I am just not a “developer”; I also have to be part of the business.  I just don’t get requirements handed to me and turn into an app.  I am part of decisions on what will be best for the company.

My advice to you is this: First, has hard as it is, you can’t have a self defeatist attitude.  You need to be as positive as you can that things will be better.  Second, try to find something where you’re more than just a hired code monkey.  I can’t see much long term satisfaction in that.  You need to code with a purpose.  Third, watch “Office Space”, at least you can laugh.

Bill Rushmore
Friday, February 27, 2004

The benefits of your FBI career will even start at the interview. I bet they don't give you a written test on muzzle velocities, ranges and accuracy of handguns, or  expect you to know the February 2004 Operations Procedures manual inside out - before starting.


Friday, February 27, 2004

Just to clarify a couple of things, based on eMails I'm getting and some of the comments I see here: 

1) I'm not angry or negative about this.  I'm actually a little sad.  Programming has been good to me for the most part.  My heart just isn't in it anymore. 

2) My comment about .NET wasn't a swipe at .NET or the need for continuous learning - I just can't muster enough love of the game to learn ANYTHING new, and that's the kiss of death for any developer.

3) This isn't so much about the pushing down of rates or the lack of professionalism in the business (although I do have a bone to pick with a lot of developers re: professionalism) - my consulting practice is doing alright.  I just plain don't enjoy the work anymore.  No - scratch that - I just plain don't enjoy the *developing* anymore.  When I do project management for my clients (I offer development, training and project management services), I'm happy as a clam.  But when I have to do the development, I find myself dreading it.

So I'm looking at my recent epiphany as a good thing.  To do the FBI, I'll need to finish my degree - also a good thing.

And if I ultimately decide to not go the law enforcement route, I might be able to contribute to the profession of software development by going full-time into project management.

Or not.  :)  That's the beauty of it - the world is wide open if you have brains and hustle.

You guys rock.  Whether I end up being Agent Norrick or Project Manager Norrick or Janitor Norrick, I'll be around.

Norrick
Friday, February 27, 2004

Amen Brother!

RP
Friday, February 27, 2004

It took me 4 yrs to get established as a local software consultant and other consultants in my little 'network' took as long or longer.  I now LOVE being an independent consultant, in biz for 11 yrs total.  So my response is to not give up too soon...

Joe Hendricks

Joe Hendricks
Friday, February 27, 2004

I appreciate your comments, Joe, and you're right - it DOES take a while to build a booming practice.  My practice is OK - it's not booming, but it's at least clicking.  I'm not hurting for money.

Really, the problem is this:  I went into private practice not because it was what I wanted to do, but because it was the only thing I COULD do to make money immediately after being laid off. 

Remember this:

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=3790&ixReplies=41

I quote myself from that post:

"In truth, I do work for private clients’ on weekends from time to time. But I’m not sure I’m prepared for the leap to full-time self employment. I’m already in a state of high frustration and burnout; self-employment takes dedication that I simply can’t muster at the moment."

I was burnt out and ready to leave development back then.  Two things kept me in the industry: 

1) I took a long vacation
2) When I got back from that vacation, my employer put me into Project Manager training.  I had a clear path out of development, which helped me hang on.  But when the company started bleeding money, I got washed out and had to do something to keep my family fed.  Cue private practice as a custom developer.

So really, I'm not being impatient about building my practice - I never wanted to be in private practice to start with.

So what do I want?  That question keeps coming up.  Let's look at what I wanted back when the burnout first hit me.  Again quoting myself:

"What I DO want:
1) A high degree of responsibility.
2) Involvement in strategy issues pertaining to the business, or at least the product.
3) Responsibility for leading teams.
4) Ownership of my work.
5) A mentoring relationship with a senior person."

That all sounds desireable to me still.  And those are not items that are limited to the dev industry.  I can probably find that in another business.

Let's see what I definitely did not want back when the burnout first hit:

"What I do NOT want:
1) To be the front-line coding grunt.
2) Isolation from the business considerations of my work.
3) Limited or unclear paths of career progression from my current position to other positions I am interested in."

Heh.  Some things never change - I STILL don't want any of that.

So please don't view this as impatience.  I feel more like a grizzled old veteran who has been in one too many ugly battles and has now lost his desire to fight.  I'm ready for a different kind of life; not better or worse, just different.

When you get right down to it, what I really want is a complete professional rebirth.  And I'm lucky to be living in a time and a place where such a thing is possible.

Norrick
Friday, February 27, 2004

"What I DO want:
1) A high degree of responsibility.
2) Involvement in strategy issues pertaining to the business, or at least the product.
3) Responsibility for leading teams.
4) Ownership of my work.
5) A mentoring relationship with a senior person."
...
"I can probably find that in another business."

You should take a look at construction.  Building someone's office or home has a high degree of responsibility.  You definately have involvement in the development of the product and strategies regarding the production of the product.  After gaining experience, you almost assuredly will be leading a team of builders.  There is definate pride in building something and taking ownership in it.  And in the business, you will definately find mentorship from senior people.

Personally I enjoy ditch digging and excavation for landscaping.  I also enjoy wood working, which you could take a look at.  None of these professions offer much money at first, although there is potential in them for earning a comfortable living.

I am a developer and don't claim to be anything I described, but I enjoy tinkering with these things in my spare time, and somehow find them much more fun and satisfying than development.  If I did them all the time, I wonder if it would be as much fun?  I personally don't have it in me to make as radical a switch as I described, but it sounds like you are more than willing to make a radical decision, so I was just throwing some ideas out there.

Best of Luck!

Elephant
Friday, February 27, 2004

Well, it sort of depends on the kind of consultant you become.  I only take projects where I have access to the CEO/Owner, which places me in an advisory role as well as delivering (or subcontracting) the code.  And if they are good, working closely with them has some mentor-like aspects.  It's a lot of fun, especially if the project is mission critical for the company.  Obviously this limits me to small and some medium size businesses to have that kind of access, as a hands-on consultant.

But maybe something to keep as another option, given your criteria, if your first choice or two don't work out.

Joe Hendricks
Friday, February 27, 2004

"But maybe something to keep as another option, given your criteria, if your first choice or two don't work out. "

What?  Only taking on projects where the CEO or principal is the project sponsor?

Heh.  That's my whole problem right now: business owners who are so used to micromanaging their own people they harass and second-guess everything I do for them.  :)

Norrick
Friday, February 27, 2004

you can get into the FBI even if you smoked weed a few times in college. The actual requirement is that you can't have smoked weed in the past three years, nor can you have smoked weed more than fifteen times total.

Also, it isn't clear if both of these disqualifly you if you posess some other crucial skills (fluent in Arabic, look "middle eastern", have a PhD in data-mining, etc).

The thing to remember, is the FBI places more weight on  if you are down for the cause than they do on your actual skills. The FBI is a huge bureaucracy and it is more important that you fit into that bureaucracy than how skilled you actually are.

I would advise pure technical types to learn some language skills, or get a master's degree in something you are interested in BEFORE applying to the FBI. I was a crack (ed?) programmer and got through three rounds of FBI interviews, but then it became pretty clear that my job was going to be the same job I already had, only in an office building in suburban virginia and being paid much less.  If this is what you want, I would go for it. However I would advise to analyze what you are getting into before you commit.

 me again
Friday, February 27, 2004

"you can get into the FBI even if you smoked weed a few times in college. The actual requirement is that you can't have smoked weed in the past three years, nor can you have smoked weed more than fifteen times total. "

I have never smoked weed. 


"I was a crack (ed?) programmer and got through three rounds of FBI interviews, but then it became pretty clear that my job was going to be the same job I already had, only in an office building in suburban virginia and being paid much less."

When I said I was thinking of applying to the FBI, I didn't mean I wanted a job as a programmer.  I was thinking Agent.

Norrick
Friday, February 27, 2004

"There's a man who leads a life of danger.
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes,
Another chance he takes.
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.

Secret Agent Man.
Secret Agent Man.
They've given you a number.
And taken away your name.

Beware of pretty faces that you find.
A pretty face may hide an evil mind.
Ooh be careful what you say.
Or you give yourself away.
Odds are you won't live to see tomorrow.

Secret Agent Man.
Secret Agent Man.
They've given you a number.
And taken away your name.

Swinging on the Riviera one day
Layin' in a Bombay alley the next.
Oh don't let the wrong word slip.
While kissin persuasive lips.
Odds are you won't live to see tomorrow.

Secret Agent Man.
Secret Agent Man.
They've given you a number.
And taken away your name."

Secret Agent Man
Friday, February 27, 2004

"I have never smoked weed. "

Maybe that's the problem? :)

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, February 27, 2004

Norrick,

I know nothing personally about the FBI other than a few conversations with a manager, that I respect, who used to be an agent (her husband is still one).

It's possible the FBI might be just as messed in the head as any other company or government institution.  People are still people after all.

This manager is a smart cookie and fiercly independent.  For what it's worth, she prefers the company of CIA people over FBI.  She says CIA people are more in touch with reality and highly intellegent.  Incidently, an ex-SpecOps soldier I know enjoyed working with CIA people.  Of course, even as a CIA agent, you're still working for a bureaucracy, so who knows.

Being in a bad job situation is like being trapped in an abusive relationship.  There's so much fear, you feel like you can't do anything.  It drains so much of your energy, you can't think your way out of it.

Luckily in my past job situation, a layoff broke me free from that trap.  Unfortunately, I can't give you any help other than a few wild ideas:

1)
Find someone you trust who can help you get an objective handle of what your finances really are (without the fear that clouds your vision).  How long could you survive if you quit cold turkey, consolidating debt (maybe even bankruptcy), etc.

2)
Find a way to spend about a month in a totally different environment, where you're not reminded of your job or any of life's obligations.

Heh I don't even pretend to think that'd be easy to do or how to do them.  I don't know, maybe mail your story to the Oprah show and hope for some freebies :_)

VP
Friday, February 27, 2004

"When I said I was thinking of applying to the FBI, I didn't mean I wanted a job as a programmer.  I was thinking Agent."

That was my plan also. However if you have significant technology experience, they will try to funnel you into a support role. Most programmers have no edge when applying for an agent role - you are competing against ex-military types, police officers, etc. Good grades and a record of being an athlete are an advantage.

I don't mean to sound discouraging - just check out fbijobs.com and some of the various message boards about the subject to get more of a feel for what to expect and how to give yourself an edge, if you decide the FBI is what you really want to do.

 me again
Friday, February 27, 2004

I'll do that.  And just for the record, applying to the FBI is just one of several things I'm pondering.  I'm also mulling the possibility of boxing professionally, working with handicapped children, and commercial collections, among other things.

Norrick
Friday, February 27, 2004

How about boxing handicapped kids?

Silly Rabbit
Saturday, February 28, 2004

You think I was joking.

I was not.

Norrick
Saturday, February 28, 2004

He didn't think you were joking, he was just being a silly rabbit.

Aussie Chick
Sunday, February 29, 2004

How about having a doctorate in chemistry and not being able to find a job?  I'll probably be working in a mall within two weeks just to try to staunch the arterial flow of red ink.

Why am I in this situation?  It's the same problem - knowing what you don't want to do and not being completely clear on what you do want to do.

Do yourself a big favor and figure out what you really want to do as soon as possible.

Aaron F Stanton
Sunday, February 29, 2004

Isn't it clear now Norick ? It's time to kill yourself.

B.Y.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Yeah, that was clever.

*rolling eyes*

Norrick
Tuesday, March 02, 2004

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