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What will you do after IT?

Let me paint the following scenario....

You've been in IT for 20 years, coding, business analysis, project managing, team leading, architect, etc, etc.

You're 45+ years of age, do you really want to learn the 'latest' technology, which after all, is simply more of the same but a different flavour?

You've done it before, you can do it again, but, ho hum, it's just plain boring now.  After all, you have a mathematics major from an Ivy League University, you've studied Quantum Physics, Topology, OR, Calculus, etc. the concepts in IT are far less interesting.
When you started you were a bit of a pioneer, occasionally wearing a Kaftan to work with sandals (joke). But now, every man and their dog is into IT, hell, even taxi drivers are reading books about OO design and doing MSCE exams.

Can you be bothered? If not, what are you going to do?
Assume that you are wealthy enough to own your own home, the kids have left, you have no debts and a little bit of money in the bank.

What would you do? And yes, it's me, and all that education and I still don't know...

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Go into academia?

Become a porn star?

Travel the world?

Experiment with exotic drugs?

Become a manager?

Start your own company?

Hell, I've got twenty years yet before I need a decent answer to these questions.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I'm 46, I don't have the advantage of money and my daughter is only 8.  Other than that I understand how you feel.

Apart from developing my uber-application I'm writing.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Go and do something completely different.

Plant a vineyard and make wine. Buy a cheap old wooden yacht, restore it and sail it. Do voluntary work overseas.

In general, have a life. You have got there, and succeeded. You own the house, you have raised your children who have now left home. Now enjoy the fruits of your labours. It doesn't have to be permenant - you can always go back to IT. After all, good employers recognise experience as a valuable skill.

Enjoy yourself!

stephen hill
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

>  even taxi drivers are reading books about OO design and doing MSCE exams

are you sure that those are not rather unemployed developers, desperately enough to drive taxi for a living ;-)

But apart from that, I don't know, what do you want to do? Go into the Canadian wilderness and trap for little furry to the Antarctic and compile a photo-collection on penguins...learn to stepdance...adopt 15 children from third world countries...write a book...learn to knit...

You are a big boy now, you can do whatever you want to do.


Jutta Jordans
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Leave a legacy.  Go teach math.

good karma for the day, I hope
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Lament and pine mostly... oh, and golf!

Brad Siemens
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Find a comfortable reclining chair in which to remain bitter.

No one
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

On second thought, perhaps scenario painter (I don't know how well it pays though).

Or posting to boards with middle age angst reminiscent of a self destructive teen trying to impress others with pseudo-intellectual posturing... no strike that! Golf, definitely golf.

Brad Siemens
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I've been in software development about as long as you or even longer.  The effects of the bubble have me pondering whether there is any future for an ongoing career in development.

If I had the skills for it, I'd start my own business.  Then I'd have a place to do good software development.  But how could I run the business and be a developer at the same time?

I've also considered the idea of getting a law degree or something like that.  I don't like giving up on a technical career, but after this long I am starting to suspect that there isn't any such thing.

I do plan to apply for a job at Microsoft.  After reading some of the discussion here, it seems that not only do they have a near monopoly on PC operating system sales, but also on good software development jobs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Well, the way I see it. Software developement is a deeply boring thing, as all engineering. Somewhat creative, but very little so. Shallow. If you are not an engineer by birth than you are going to get bored by it sooner or later.

You can do it strictly as a job, as a way to make money. You know, work to live, not live to work. What to do otherwise? Well, find your own areas of interest, what can I say.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

2 chicks at the same time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Freelance cropdusting!  It's the wave of the future!

Joe Paradise
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

>>> Freelance cropdusting! <<<

An interesting idea....  Nahh!  Too boring.

Now, being an Alaskan bush pilot is something I could go for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

"2 chicks at the same time. "

Oh my, I just about sprayed my monitor with Mountain Dew after reading that.  If that truly is the case, I'll have to start thinking about early retirement. ;)

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Try teaching software engineering at the local univ, that should be fun sharing your experinces with others...

play some golf, support your NBA/NFL/NHL team.

do things that you always wanted to if you have not done them yet.

travel the world.

Prakash S
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I have this same problem, but I'm only 28. (no kids, been in biz since age 18, math degree, etc.)

"M" and "mackinac" are correct. Software development is fundamentally boring, and "technical career" is an oxymoron. 

I'm also having difficulty figuring out what to do, as I've put in so many 80+ hour weeks, I have forgotton what I even enjoy.

This is very oprah-book-club, but I've found "making a list" helps. And setting deadlines and action plans. For instance, I listed all the stuff I wanted to know about, then figured out how I was going to learn it, and by when I should know it. 

Also, I started out being vague, and that didn't work. For instance, "learning a martial art" is too vague and unquantifiable. "I want to be able to kick someone in the head, do the splits, and lift 250 pounds in 1 year" is something amenable to a schedule. Anything from learning a musical instrument to learning how to write a book, to learning molecular biology is the same way.

Now, this all presupposes that you lead your life in a goal-oriented manner. I spent about 5 months doing fuck all and enjoyed most every minute of it. However, not being old or rich enough to truly retire without society percieving me as a total bum, I thought I better get off my ass and learn some other things.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Thanks for the replies everybody, even Brad, who said
"Or posting to boards with middle age angst reminiscent of a self destructive teen trying to impress others with pseudo-intellectual posturing... no strike that! Golf, definitely golf. "
Why are people so cruel? I don't even like golf.

"2 chicks at once" - I'd have to pay for that, I'm not the chick magnet that I was many years ago, and I'm trying to save money, plus what would I do?

"Find a comfortable reclining chair in which to remain bitter. " - not a bad idea, some possibilities here.

"Go teach Math" - I started of my career doing this and yes, it's a possibility too, but I quit it for some reason, if only I could remember why.

Perhaps I could combine these three and become a bitter and resentful math teacher, using all my earnings to pay for a monthly menage a trois.

All jokes aside, it is a relevant issue, it's human nature to grow tired of repetition, no matter what it is. So I think we all need a back up plan, wish I had one.

Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The "two chicks" quote is a reference to Office Space ( ) which is a comedy with more than a hint of documentary to it - if "PeopleWare" is the book on how a software company should be run, "Office Space" is a movie about how too many companies are run.

I would have thought it to be essential viewing for all Joel On Software readers, so many posts here mirror scenes from the film. Actually, hire this film and you might get some ideas:

- relax
- get out doors
- exercise

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I just remembered that IMDB provide a memorable quotes page for most titles -

Peter Gibbons: What would you do if you had a million dollars?
Lawrence: I'll tell you what I'd do, man, two chicks at the same time, man.
Peter Gibbons: That's it? If you had a million dollars, you'd do two chicks at the same time?
Lawrence: Damn straight. I always wanted to do that, man. And I think if I had a million dollars I could hook that up, cause chicks dig a dude with money.
Peter Gibbons: Well, not all chicks.
Lawrence: Well the kind of chicks that'd double up on me do.
Peter Gibbons: Good point.
Lawrence: What about you, what would you do?
Peter Gibbons: Besides two chicks at the same time?
Lawrence: Well yeah.
Peter Gibbons: Nothing.
Lawrence: Nothing, huh?
Peter Gibbons: I'd relax, sit on my ass all day, I would do nothing.
Lawrence: Well you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Just take a look at my cousin, he's broke, don't do shit.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Here's what I'll do:
-write stories
-make computer game stories
-make a better world (work for UN or Dalai Lama maybe:-)
-travel straight through the Sahara desert horizontally
-travel straight through Africa vertically
-travel by foot and bike around the Mediterreanean (eh how do you spell that, never mind you know which one I'm thinking of), Italy is a good starting point I think and I'll wait until the Palestine - Israel conflict is a bit less tense
-read stories for school children

There you go. Don't forget to go out and watch the sky and listen to the birds hehe, that should be a daily routine for anyone working with computers.

Rikard Linde
Thursday, November 28, 2002

Rikard, nice fantasy life.  Would you like to think about reality now?  Do you have a family?  a mortgage?  aging parents to care for?  Keep dreaming, Walter Mitty

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Bella is remarkably cranky. Life isn't really that shitty, cheer up!

Traveling through africa is relatively inexpensive. The bulk of the cost is in the plane ticket getting there. I spent 1.5 months dotting about Kenya and the whole thing cost less than $2000. I've also traveled from Rome to Barcelona and lounged about on the French and Italian riviera, with a total cost less than $2000.  My roommate went to Thailand with $2200 and lived there for 6 months. My sister went to Mexico for a year for about the same cost. Travel is cheap in a lot of the world.

I guess if taking 6 weeks off and spending $2K means your elderly parents die, or the bank takes away your house, or your children starve,  don't do it. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

travel log
Saturday, November 30, 2002

travel log,
I thought we were discussing "Life after IT", not "Vacation plans after IT".  I was skeptical of those things becoming his semi-permanent lifestyle, and not questiong the viability of those things being a 2 week vacation. 

I may be planning some travel myself.  Can you suggest good website resources to plan budget travel like you mentioned?  Thanks

Sunday, December 1, 2002


Budget travel is easy.

1. Buy the cheapest plane ticket you can find. Sometimes using an agent is the best way to do this, particularly travel agents situated tear college campuses - they are used to looking for budget deals.

2. Bring 1 backpack with no luggage. Make sure backpack is designed to meet airport carry-on requirements. DO NOT check in your backpack unless you never want to see it again which will happen only 20% of the time. Bring 2 pants, 2 shirts, 5-7 pairs underwear, A BUNGEE CLOTHESLINE (important!) and a small vial of dishwashing detergent (for washing clothes). Sleeping bag not necessary usually for most hostels, neighter is a hostelling card. (If you absolutely need one you can usually buy it on site - most hostels do not require them.)

3. Bring a guidebook that tells you where the hostels and ATM machines are in the areas you are visiting that work on your network. This is important because you will travel with NO dollars US and NO travellers cheques.

4. Don't buy any eurorail or other pass. WAAAAY cheaper to buy on site.

5. Find out where the locals eat and where they buy their bus passes if staying in any area for more than a few days. (Most hostels do kick you out after 3 days though.) Buy most food in markets. Make use of the free coffee and bread slice offered at most hostels.

6. Do not have an itinerary. Just travel about as the mood strikes. Do not make reservations. Do not be afraid to sleep on the street.

7. Make sure your return ticket is for at least 6 weeks after you arrive.

8. Speak the local languages at least a little bit. Make friends. Travel with them. Stay at their villas.

Of course this is not for everyone. You have to be able to do what is necessary when it is necessary.

Travelling this way, I spent 6 months in Europe at a total cost including air fare of $400/month.

If you liek fancy hotels and the like, your cost may be more like $400/day and you won't see as much interesting stuff or meet as many interesting people. But that's OK too. Most people prefer things to be safe and compartmentalized.

Sunday, December 1, 2002

"I may be planning some travel myself.  Can you suggest good website resources to plan budget travel like you mentioned?  Thanks "

why yes, i'd be happy to.  Much of what "globetrotter" said above is valid, however I question what he says about the europass. (He's probably right though, if you are over 26)

where do you want to go? I'm good with: Japan, East Africa, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, and USA.

travel log
Sunday, December 1, 2002

Bella, you're definitely right about mortgages and stuff but I wrote to give Monty some stimulating ideas and interesting alternatives. The facts and constraints of everyday life is something he'll have to take into consideration no matter what he choses to do. My suggestions are merely things one could aim for.
I totally agree with everything that's been said about traveling. It's not only possible to travel cheap and light, it's sooo rewarding. Go on your own, let the trip unfold itself as you meet people and enjoy the hospitality of our bizarre world. Cheers.

Rikard Linde
Monday, December 2, 2002

After IT... I see it as your just getting bored with what you know. As for me, if you have such education, and such knowledge why not expand? Don't tell me there isnt room. Hmmmm... just seems to me that you arent satisfied with what you are doing with your life. IT is far from over... keep learning.

Matt Hrushka
Monday, December 2, 2002

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