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Ask Slashdot: Life After Software Development? 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the would-you-like-fries-with-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've been writing database apps for various industries as the senior developer or tech lead on a given project for most of the past 20 years. The last few years have become particularly taxing as I struggle to reiterate basic concepts to the same technically illiterate managers and stakeholders who keep turning up in charge. While most are knowledgeable about the industries our software is targeting, they just don't get the mechanics of what we do and never will. After so many years, I'm tired of repeating myself. I need a break. I need to walk away from it, and want to look at doing something that doesn't focus heavily on the IT industry day in, day out. Unfortunately, I'm locked to a regional city and I've just spent the majority of my adult life coding, with no other major skills to fall back on. While I'm not keen on remaining in front of a screen, I wouldn't be averse to becoming a tech user and consumer, rather than a creator. Are there similar Slashdotters out there who have made the leap of faith away from tech jobs and into something different? If so, where did you end up? Is there a life after IT for people who are geeks at heart? Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?"
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Ask Slashdot: Life After Software Development?

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  • Write or teach. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kenja (541830) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:03PM (#39080419)
    If you have experience on a given subject, coding or otherwise, there is a market for books and teaching. I happen to like coding and plan on keeping at it till my mortgage is paid off. Then I'll retire.
    • by afabbro (33948) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:45PM (#39080865) Homepage
      He's already demonstrated that he "can", which means he's ineligible to teach.
      • Re:Write or teach. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday February 17, 2012 @10:32PM (#39082157)

        He's already demonstrated that he "can", which means he's ineligible to teach.

        True this. However, at one point I planned to move the family to a rural area and partially address the lack of technical high school education by teaching there myself. Keys to this plan were:

        a) reduced cost of living in the rural area
        b) large savings account from life in the big city
        c) a high tolerance for illiteracy

        this is a town where the waitresses have never seen the word "Croissant" before in their life (yes, they have a Wal-Mart, but that doesn't mean that the townsfolk study the frozen foods aisle and actually learn from what's in it.)

        With your existing education, you should be able to start substitute teaching and get a feel for whether or not it's a life you want to pursue for awhile. I'd recommend (based on two parents who taught high school) at least a full year of testing the waters before making a major commitment to the teaching path. By that time, if you like it, the people in the school system should know and like you well enough to give you a good shot at a permanent position. Be sure to check up on whatever B.S. C.E. (bullshit continuing education) requirements will have to be met before you can be honored with a high stress, low pay job teaching a room full of ignorant, arrogant, hormone imbalanced people who are not yet answerable to the adult criminal justice system.

        It can be very rewarding, for some people.

      • by Saffaya (702234)

        He's already demonstrated that he "can", which means he's ineligible to teach.

        Pr. Richard Feynman begs to disagree ...

        Pr. Albert "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" Einstein begs to disagree too ...

    • Re:Write or teach. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390) <[ChristianHGross] [at] [yahoo.ca]> on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:32PM (#39081303)

      Ok I have been for the past 7 years in this situation... I was pushed into this situation after the dot.com bubble burst. Up to the dot com bubble burst I was doing Internet Server Consulting. What this meant is that I helped corporations push out Internet based Application Servers using .NET or Java technologies. It was a great gig until the bubble burst. Then I switched into Open Source, but realized very very quickly the monies are not the same. I am not slagging Open Source since I essentially use it now exclusively.

      But for the past 7 years I have been investing in the market and yes I have been making money (even through the two crisis). And in about 2 years my wife and I are going to retire to open a restaurant as we need to do something (we are are in our early forties).

      1) Make sure you have money socked away... Don't do this with no monies as you will fail and be miserable at the same time.

      2) Do something you love. For me it is cooking and counting money. By counting money I mean financial engineering. Both are natural and easy for me even though my degree says mechnical engineering.

      3) Create a niche for yourself. Since you are not in the field from young on nobody will care about you. Thus create a niche for yourself. So say you want to be a trucker. Well drive those stretches that nobody else wants to, for whatever reason it is. It is important to stress you need to love this new field because you are going to get the shit jobs and thus you better be smiling while doing those jobs.

      4) Be happy! Seriously if you are going to step into this new field you better be happy about it. If you are going to complain and think about all of the money, or gizmos that you could have bought before you are doing yourself a disservice. You need to enjoy every effen moment because otherwise you will fail. I am not talking about, "oh this will get better" type of chatter. I am talking, "you know I really like eating this shit every day because it is something I have always wanted to do." Again I stress the you better love the field because you will get shit fed to you for at least two to three years...

      • Re:Write or teach. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:02AM (#39084609)

        And in about 2 years my wife and I are going to retire to open a restaurant as we need to do something

        You use that word 'retire' but I don';t think it means what you think it means.
        Seriosuly, re-think what you want to do:
        1) Run a restaurant which means working 24 hours a day and if need be at night as well. That is if you want to make money and not loose it. Money can go fast in the restaurant business.
        2) Retire

        Running a restaurant is not the same as cooking.

        I hear many people say that they would love to buy a pub, a restaurant or a small hotel. It sounds so nice, because all that they see is the time they spend as a guest. They do not see the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. The fact that you have no social life, because you work all the time.

        yes, do something you like, but understand that running a business is not the same as retiring. Not by a long shot.

        If cooking is your passion, why not do catering? You can decide when and how much work you take and you won't be making the same kind of food day in day out. You could decide to have only Friday and Saturday parties. That would mean you will be doing your prep on Thursday, parties on Friday and Saturday and finish on Sunday. Once you have that rolling, you will still have plenty of time to be retired while still being able to do what you like.

    • Re:Write or teach. (Score:5, Informative)

      by OutputLogic (1566511) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:02AM (#39082813) Homepage
      I'm an author of a reasonably successful technical book. I can attest that a market for technical books is rather limited, and it's unreasonable to expect the same level of income from book royalties as from a normal job.
  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:04PM (#39080425) Homepage Journal
    You pretty much shot yourself in the foot when you said

    Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?

    "On a whim" is exactly what you're talking about doing: leaving what I assume to be a well-paying job, with absolutely zero skills outside your current position, to find something new (which, incidentally, is a process you're obviously sufficiently clueless about to be unable to figure out for yourself).

    My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Necron69 (35644) <`jscott.farrow' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:20PM (#39080607)

      I have to agree. I've seen too many people quit jobs 'on a whim' and screw up their lives (and their family's) permanently.

      All jobs suck at one level or another. Grow up, suck it up, and keep working. You need to learn to work to live, not live to work.

      Necron69

      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:35PM (#39080743)

        What kind of advice is that?

        You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by. And if you're married, you can divide the labor between you two.

        The thing is that what he want's it to be his own boss, or something like that. There are always incompetent managers, so you can't escape it just by changing jobs. But you can choose who you do business with.

        It's a choice. Either you want the house in the suburbs with the stable income, and the shitty job that goes with it, or you don't.

        • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

          by arth1 (260657) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:44PM (#39080845) Homepage Journal

          You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by.

          Not when you have a mortgage and kids, unless you're desperate enough to go the arson route.

          • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:53PM (#39080977)

            That's silly. You don't want the house so stop paying your mortgage. Then go find an apartment, or move in with you parents. There are a surprising number of options if you can get out of the mindset that you have to own a house and you have to have good credit and you have to do whatever it is you think you have to do.

            And most people have no idea what it really takes to raise kids well. I'll tell you one thing it doesn't require, a whole lot of money. And another thing you don't need to do it is a house.

            • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Golddess (1361003) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:03PM (#39081065)

              You don't want the house so stop paying your mortgage. Then go find an apartment

              Won't that kind of hurt your chances of actually getting said apartment? Nevermind what kind of an example that sets for your kids.

              or move in with you parents

              Are most parents really that cool about their adult child, spouse, and grandkids all moving in with them, especially if said child just didn't feel like paying their mortgage?

              • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Funny)

                by Surt (22457) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:52PM (#39081459) Homepage Journal

                Who says the parents need to be ok with it? You're stronger than they are. Terrorize them into submission.

              • Getting back on topic....what about considering academia - assuming your town has a university nearby. The money you will make is not as good as industry - so expect some level of pay cut but the chances of losing your job are a lot less than industry, most of the time at least. However you will get to work with us crazy academics and get exposed to a huge variety of different problems and issues.

                As an added bonus, should you find that you do not like it, most universities have very good training progra
              • by Mokurai (458416) <mokurai@sugarlabs.org> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @02:26AM (#39083459) Homepage

                My wife and I were very lucky on this. Her parents, ages 88 and 95, needed in-home care, and were willing to pay for us to move to their town to provide it, as we were nearing retirement, and I was transitioning to full-time tech volunteering. It turned out to be vastly cheaper to live here in Indiana than in Silicon Valley, especially with the jobs gone away in the current recession just after they started coming back from the previous recession. We now live in the inherited house and have a comfortable income, between retirement and inheritance.

                The writer is in a very different situation, but also has options outside the conventional I assume that the writer has significant home equity after 20 years, and has some savings and investments socked away, some in tax-deferred retirement accounts. Consider, then, the option of moving somewhere vastly cheaper. Quite comfortable houses in our town are available for as little as $70,000. There is a university town nearby (Indiana University, Bloomington), and we have several colleges and university affiliates right here in Columbus.

                If you would like a different challenge among the enclued, you could do much worse than to join my outfit, Sugar Labs (a partner of One Laptop Per Child) working on Free Software for education plus Open Education Resources for millions of children now, and ultimately a billion at a time. Our mission is to end global poverty and its many associated ills, using technology as infrastructure for everything else needed. But there are other options right around here. For example, the OpenMRS Medical Records System is being developed in part nearby in Indianapolis. Your database skills would be perfect for them, and they even pay. ^_^

                The schools here are pretty decent, and I and my wife also have experience in homeschooling our son and daughter.

                So there really are options. Look around, and ignore the naysayers who claim that it can't be done.

            • by rnswebx (473058)

              Stop being ridiculous. The argument of whether or not he needs a house is moot as he already has a house. If he walks away from it, we'll assume he can't pay for it, and now he's in financial ruin. His credit turns to garbage, so all sorts of things are more expensive now, and the real kicker is he has no money for his kids' tuition. (assuming he did in the first place)

              Sure, you can get by on the regular day-to-day parenting stuff on minimal means. You can't, however, pay for a decent education and pro

              • by mosb1000 (710161)

                Yes, it is crazy. The problem is that society itself is insane. As if you should be held to a debt obligation over a span of 20 or 30 years, and a person could really understand what that entales.

                In reality, you can walk away from a house you can't afford. And you should. All that other nonsense is relatively unimportant, and certainly not worth losing your dreams.

        • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PRMan (959735) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:44PM (#39080861)

          You'd be surprised how much it costs to get by.

          FTFY. You don't live in California, do you?

          To the OP, I knew a COBOL programmer that didn't show up to work one day at 74. He died suddenly in the night. While that was sad for all of us, I can tell you that he was really happy and thought he would be depressed if he retired (probably true). I definitely lean more this way.

          • by mosb1000 (710161)

            I just moved out of Orange County. Like I said, you have to make choices. Living in California is not a good one if you want to have a flexible lifestyle. There are places where you can rent a 2 bedroom apartment for 500 a month.

        • by afabbro (33948)

          You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by. And if you're married, you can divide the labor between you two.

          "Getting by" is OK when you're single or married without kids is one thing. It's not when you have kids, and have to consider their expenses, health care, college, what happens if you die, etc.

        • And, you'd be surprised how much it costs to get by when you're the provider for a family. Once you're married and you have kids, your decisions are not yours...not should they be.
        • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Lije Baley (88936) on Friday February 17, 2012 @10:11PM (#39082013)

          You are correct, but you apparently have no experience in a typical marriage with typical women and children. If you want to live the simple life, you can, but you have to find a wife who also wants to live that way, and raise your children up in that environment from the start.

      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:54PM (#39080987)

        Exactly. Work is what I do to pay for the things I like to do. I can afford nice things.

        My brother's a jazz musician. He loves it, but he doesn't make much money and he STILL HAS SHIT TO DEAL WITH. All jobs have shit to deal with. Find one you like that pays well. At work play the part.

      • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Krishnoid (984597) * on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:03PM (#39081063) Journal

        All jobs suck at one level or another. Grow up, suck it up, and keep working. You need to learn to work to live, not live to work.

        The same advice I gave a coworker when we were discussing this same topic in -- of all places -- a children's library. I pointed him to this award-winning discussion [simonandschuster.com] of this topic.

        I think your kids would also enjoy it, albeit on a different level.

    • by B'Trey (111263)

      My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

      You can also start looking for new opportunities but don't quit your day job until you have something solid lined up.

      Are you tech skills solely limited to coding? Even if you can't get out of the IT field, you might try a different area. I retired from the Navy (I was an Electronic Technician) at age 39 and got a job as a Network Technician. I got my CCNA, which got my

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh (216268)

      My advice: move to another place. Moving to someplace new can be like a breath of fresh air and a real change in pace in life, plus it'll give you a whole new pool of employers to choose from. I gathered from the question that the submitter doesn't have a lot of choice for employers, and that's likely because he's in an area with few potential employers for his skillset; the only way to change that is to move.

      He says he's "locked into a regional city", but I think that's BS. No one is really "locked into

    • I was forcibly pushed from a 'pure' development role into management. This came gradually, first being labeled a 'project manager', they 'promoted' into an office where I spend all of my time meeting customers expectations, compiling reports to upper management, working to keep my developers comfortable enough so that they do not take other job offers and rarely (oh soooo rarely) having an opportunity to help debug a program and demonstrate my skilz

      This can be accomplished in a gradual manner that does not

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by joebok (457904) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#39080877) Homepage Journal

      Wow - how can such a shallow thoughtless answer be modded "insightful"?

      If the question was "I've just quit my job coding 'cause I can't stand it any more, how can I feed my family?" - yes, that is "on a whim" and I agree, not a good way to proceed. This person is examining his life and looking for other options. That is not whimsical. He's asking for experiences of like-minded people, hoping to find inspiration. Absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

      I completely identify with the question, and have been having thoughts on the same lines. My conclusions so far is that I still actually do like coding, I just don't like coding (or doing anything) for the pointy haired bosses who are not in charge where I have been working for 18 years. So I'm trying to retrain myself a bit, see if I can cash in on iOS apps or something like that. It is interesting for me to learn new things, and exercising creativity to ends of my own choosing is very refreshing. Even if I never made a dime from an app, changing my attitude and finding a creative outlet makes life tons better. I endure the idiots at work, bring home the paycheck to feed the fam, AND I'm in a better state of mind so the time I spend at home is quality time. Maybe that will be enough, maybe I will want to make a change in the future.

      It is a 100% valid question and the answer is most definitely not "nope". A good programmer is a good problem solver - the problem of living a satisfying life of joy is worth solving.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:56PM (#39081019)

      Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?"

      There's a reason the monetary system is debt based. You just found it.

       

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

      my advice: start to push for a management position, then you can walk about the office all day long and no-one will say "where are you going", "why aren't you working", or "what are you doing". If you want, you can even amuse yourself by going up to a few and asking them these questions :)

      ok, I'd get a smartphone to pass the tedium, but at least you will still get paid an

    • preach it brother (Score:5, Interesting)

      by decora (1710862) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:03PM (#39081077) Journal

      this guy needs a hobby something awful.

      i think he needs to take a 'vacation to reality'.

      step 1. try to live on minimum wage for 2 months. i give him 4 days before he breaks down and buys a pizza or goes to a movie or something else financially disastrous to the ordinary person.

      step 2. fill out interviews for jobs in other areas, like, say, cashier at Target. make bets on how long he says in an exasperated voice "ive sent out dozens of resumes and nobody is calling me back!"

      step 3. actually go to job interviews. see how the 'clueless idiots' in management seem like when they dont actually depend on you - when you are just some expendable blob for them to use.

      after all that i think he might change his opinion. he might be able to get a job with less hours, but he is not going to run off without thinking.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:04PM (#39080443)

    Can you say "do you want fries with that?"

  • Game Developement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stackdump (553408) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:05PM (#39080451)
    Try a different kind of development? - maybe Game Development? You man still deal with the same issues - but at least it's more light-hearted and the business rules of the app are still arbitrary but more fun.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Try a different kind of development? - maybe Game Development?

      You man still deal with the same issues - but at least it's more light-hearted and the business rules of the app are still arbitrary but more fun.

      Plus you can slip Easter-Egg tips to your friends =)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:13PM (#39080535)

      >Game Development

      Infinitely worse. The only people who think game development is "light hearted" and "fun" are ignorant people who know diddly-squat about the games industry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I have to wonder at this. I don't want to try to refute your post, but I hear very, very often that developing games is brutal, backbreaking, 60 hour per week work, and so all the people working in game development are miserable. But I do brutal, backbreaking, 60 hour per week work, and I love it. I run a print shop, and seeing my work roll off the lot, or hanging around town, or as displays at my favorite stores is a source of pride, not misery, for me.

        I don't have to be here 60 hours (or more) every
    • Permanent positions in game development are few, and competition is fierce. It is also a high stress industry (ask a game dev about "crunch time") and pays poorly. That being said, your basic concept is sound. Stay in your field, but move outside your industry.
    • by Surt (22457) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:41PM (#39080811) Homepage Journal

      Game development may sound fun, but as people who have actually done it for a living are going to point out, this is not the job for someone who has a mortgage or a family as a consideration. It doesn't pay well, it demands long hours, and the risk of losing your job is through the roof compared to basically anywhere else in the computer industry.

    • by netsavior (627338)
      Game development has better managers, worse hours, much worse pay, much worse burnout ratio.
      • by Surt (22457)

        It has worse managers too. Almost all the managers in game dev are incompetent (at least, I have yet to meet the exception, and I've met a lot).

  • Tax Preparation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jack9 (11421) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:05PM (#39080453)

    It's a series of rules. It doesn't take much intelligence or creativity and pays pretty well. It can be taught very quickly. Learn to like copying and filling out forms. Bonuys, as a developer, you probably won't forge anything due to your own inability to recognize what someone can or cannot prove via provided documents. As a PREPARER, you aren't 100% liable for validating these documents, so it's pretty much boilerplate.

    It's what I intend to do once I lose an important sense/appendage (as long as it's not both my hands and both eyes completely, in which case I'm fucked)

  • by glueball (232492) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:06PM (#39080461)

    If you put what you wrote on the heading of your resume and sent it to some startup companies (or VC of those startups) you'll get attention.

    Now, if your tired of telling people basic concepts because you're an arrogant ass, well, you'll get attention and be shown the door. If you're a person who has passion for good work, have done good work, and are willing to try something new with a similar passion, entrepreneurs will notice.

    Whether the attention is good or bad is up to your attitude but put what you wrote in the header and you'll show you have balls, which is exactly what's lacking but needed most in many of the applicants I see for a startup company.

    • by frisket (149522) <peter@silmaril.PERIODie minus punct> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:12PM (#39080515) Homepage
      Unfortunately, most VCs are just as technologically clueless as the management. Plus they don't want seasoned developers with years of experience and the skills to know what to do (and the balls to do it), they want kids who'll work for stock options instead of cash.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Exactly. Telling someone who has a mortgage to pay and wants to pay for their kids' schooling to work for a startup is completely idiotic. Startups are famous for paying squat (and also requiring insane hours), because the whole idea is that you'll get rich if the startup becomes a big success and your stock options become highly valuable.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is not universal. Startups pay squat until they raise funding, at which time they are often still very small teams moving very quickly, but their compensation package moves from 90% equity to 90% cash. If you want some financial comfort and security, take a job at a promising startup that has recently raised enough money for it to run for a year or two without revenue. You'll get decent equity, more or less market salary, and a job that doesn't totally suck.

          • This is not universal. Startups pay squat until they raise funding, at which time they are often still very small teams moving very quickly, but their compensation package moves from 90% equity to 90% cash. If you want some financial comfort and security, take a job at a promising startup that has recently raised enough money for it to run for a year or two without revenue. You'll get decent equity, more or less market salary, and a job that doesn't totally suck.

            Concur, I've done it a couple of times. Haven't had the homerun hit come around yet, but at least there's always another startup around the corner to jump to, and compared to my college classmates who went to work for Motorola, Southern Bell, etc. my pay has kept pace and occasionally exceeded theirs - for 20+ years now.

      • by Surt (22457)

        That's not a flaw of the startup environment. The whole point of going to work for one is to take salary risk and trade it against upside opportunity in the stock. The only other reason to work for a startup is if you have a moral stake in what the startup is doing.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:07PM (#39080467) Homepage Journal

    Spend a tour of duty with the Dark Side.

    • Or become a sales engineer. Effectively you become the liaison between a development team and the customer.

  • We now live in a service economy. Micky Dee's is always hireing, and front desk jobs at La Quinta might be available in your area. But if you're over 45, look, just move under a bridge and get it over with.

  • That's what I did. Of course I'm 62 and my savings allow me to do this, but I have to admit that it feels good.
  • by tphb (181551)

    I'd offer advice, but you mentioned "I've just spent the majority of my adult life coding, with no other major skills to fall back on". That's your problem. If a developer is not continually growing skills outside of just cutting code, they only be cutting code until the day they grow obsolete. Which is usually pretty quick.

    Have you learned an industry? Learned how to manage a project? Developers can move into product development consultant or general management. But if you have 20 years experience doing th

  • If it's time to stop, it's time to stop.

    However, it sounds like you're probably not quite a sprint chicken any more, so I'll point this out: there is a definite age ceiling in the tech world.

    You can avoid hitting it quite so hard as long as you keep working in the field, but once you switch tracks, it can be a lot harder to break back in. The way a lot of management will see things, you left/got pushed out, and they can hire a younger, naive, and inexperienced dev who will write bad code that is hard to ma

  • Find your passion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:11PM (#39080509)

    I've been struggling with the same problem myself. Any change is undoubtedly going to come with a decrease in pretty big income at least at first. There aren't that many jobs that pay as well as a programmer that you can just jump right in to. I recommend you find something you still have some passion about first. Ideas that have come across my mind are writing some books and opening a coffee shop. I've made minor progress towards both and realize its not going to be a change that just happens over night. Its going to take a lot of work for me to change my work but if I don't do anything about it now I'll end up stuck here forever. I like coffee and I like hanging out at coffee shops. Why not make coffee for a living? I like writing so I'm working on writing a book in my spare time to see how it turns out. Ultimately, if you aren't interested in what you're doing regardless of what it is you're going to find yourself in the same situation you're in now so find something you like doing and figure out a way to start a business around it. As a programmer, just think of it as yet another problem to solve and you'll figure your way out of the cage.

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:11PM (#39080511)
    If you have been with that company for a long time, you might be able to take the position your boss has (well maybe not his exact position, but similar within the company). Being that you are tired of explaining things over and over to your revolving bosses, you could probably become one, and then you would no longer need to explain it anymore to him (though that doesn't mean you wouldn't need to explain it to the boss's boss... but usually at that level you start getting more into the "this is the problem, this is my solution, it will cost X amount of developer hours/$$$ and provides XYZ benefits").
  • Start a company? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by laffer1 (701823) <luke@NOspaM.foolishgames.com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:17PM (#39080571) Homepage Journal

    If you're tired of listening to idiots, why not start a company. Then you're in charge. There are many downsides to this but it solves your immediate problem.

    You could also get into mobile app development. That can be done as a solo gig.

  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:18PM (#39080593)

    Been there.
    Done that.
    Now I raise pigs on pasture.
    Shepherding pigs is more fun.
    Love it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Funny, that's what I call my management managing skills. Pig Wrangling.

      Learn to manage you managers.

  • Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirwired (27582) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:25PM (#39080643)

    Dear Slashdot,

    I've spent my entire life doing one thing. I have no marketable skills except doing that one thing. I like doing that one thing, and that alone. I hate my job because it also involves doing something other than that one thing.

    I want to stop doing that one thing, or anything related to it, but still make the same safe, secure, decent amount of money doing something else. But I have no idea what that something else is, and I don't want to take any risks finding out.

    What do I do?

    Answer:
    You're fucked.

    Seriously, open your horizons some (management or technical sales is where many geeks go when they reach this point), or be willing to take risks. But the magical safe, secure, job you are looking for does not exist.

    • In addition to either allowing yourself to go into another part of IT (I mentioned management or technical sales), or risk-taking, there is a third option: Be willing to take a pay cut, and it may be a large one. If you are willing to take a pay cut, you can perform a career switch. It's not at all uncommon for people to switch careers entirely, but matching a good IT salary is usually not an option absent serious (read: expensive and time-consuming) training.

      In fact, I don't know of too many non-managem

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:26PM (#39080663)
    Up not out. You can be the manager who excels at the technical side of things.. And try to learn not to suck too bad at the social side of it.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:28PM (#39080673) Homepage

    I'm 55 and have been involved with software development since the late 1970's.

    I'm done!

    I'm thinking an ice cream truck.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:32PM (#39080715) Homepage Journal

    YOu arne't going tlo take a leap AND keep the mortagae and college..unless you have someone who is willing to support you. Rich uncle? investors into a private business?

    In the mean time, take a pay cut, get a city or state programming job.
    It's boring, the tech is boring, but I work 40 a week. This has finally given me time to pursue other interests. Currently I'm learning to play the bass with the goal of getting a gig after a year.

    BY boring I don't mean I'm not doing anything, I'm actually quite busy but there isn't any real challenges since it's older tech.
    Also, I get actual vacation time and sick time and no one whines that I took time off.

    Alternatively, you can get a coding job in a completely different industry. I have worked in pretty much every major industry. Finance, health care, avionics, robotics, tape libraries, etc...

  • We are lucky that we have one that pays well! The grass is always greener. I bet your bosses deal with the same BS that you do, maybe a different day or different topic, same BS. The grocery kid at the store has the same problems, just a different set of glasses. Gotta make paper. I'd suggest that you go out and buy yourself a BMW, maybe that will cheer you up. At least you get to use your brain, unlike most of the rest of the working world.
  • Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:38PM (#39080773) Homepage
    I used to be an IT guy. Went from phone jockey to DB developer over about 8 years. After seeing what happens to people who are in IT for a long time, decided that I didn't want to turn into one of those people, so I dropped out, and started my own business. But with it came a tremendous amount of risk. I'm glad I did it, but with the qualifier, "is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?", I've gotta say that you probably should just stay put. Any career change is going to come along with a significant amount of risk.

    Or, you could do what I did, and radically change your lifestyle, reducing your risk. If you're willing to give up the trappings of the typical consumerist lifestyle, you can get by on significantly less than most people in the US think they need to live comfortably. Get rid of the mortgage, fancy cars, overpriced gadgets and new clothes. Learn to be happy living with much less, and suddenly, the possibilities expand greatly. Of course, most people don't do it, but if you do do it, then you can really do whatever you'd like to do, and not worry about "risking" your lifestyle, since you would have already thrown that out the window.
  • Kill yourself. There is no life after software development.

  • Keep the job (Score:5, Informative)

    by jelizondo (183861) <jerry.elizondo@NoSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:40PM (#39080803)

    Been there, done that.

    A few years ago I quit a good job because I was tired of the same thing, day in, day out.

    Decided to try my hand at different things, collapsed economically, got depressed, felt I was useless and then...

    I got me a job (lower paying) as IT Manager again. Guess what, I'm happy because I know what I'm doing, I feel good because I know the ins and outs of the job and it is, frankly, a piece of cake.

    So take a vacation, cool off and get back to the good job you have.

  • I've always thought of myself as a "programmer", but having worked since '87 with computers for some pretty big companies and ever-larger projects and teams, I found I acquired a few useful skills that I didn't even realize until someone started asking me the right questions.

    • Team management is half of staff management. Just because you haven't given someone good/bad news about whether they're still employed or adjusted their salary doesn't mean you haven't had to deal with the far more common issues of
  • by swframe (646356) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#39080879)
    1) Move up the management chain. Stop moving up when you can't take the bs. You don't code anymore. You are still paid well. You have to reduce your reliance on technical skills and switch to people skills. It is messy. I find it hard because the goals are harder to understand. People don't act in their best interests and so doing something illogical (e.g. not allowing an employee to build a better solution because the current solution is owned by someone with more influence than you have) is the better choice if you want to keep your job. It is really hard to avoid becoming the dilbert manager when a dilbert manager decides your fate.
    2) Move into sales or marketing. Again you have to tone down your technical skills in favor of people skills. If you move into writing white papers you can keep some of the technical skills but you will need to understand people well enough to influence them. It takes getting used to. I didn't like it at first but so far it has been easier than coding, a little boring but I feel my work is useful to the company and customers. If you move into technical presales you typically get a bonus but you also have to travel a bit more.
  • by cshark (673578) on Friday February 17, 2012 @07:47PM (#39080899)

    Dude, you're an adult, you're not going to like your job every day, and you're not going to like everyone you work with. I'm working on finishing a project I hate, for a client who is a complete dick right now. But, he's the dick that pays my bills, and I manage to keep the work interesting by doing it different ways, rather than repeating the same thing over and over again.

    There's really no way around repeating yourself. It's one of the evils of this industry. The thing I've found that works is talking about things in terms of electricity and plumbing. Some of it doesn't really fit, but it's a metaphor that people can visualize. The problem with explaining software mechanics to people is that there's no pipe to envision, no wire to point to, and the guts of the thing exist in the ether where they're shielded from perception.

    Another thing that works is to make yourself less approachable. Not being rude per say, but people won't ask you a lot of questions, if you're not forthright in answering them. Or, if you give them an answer in terms you know they'll never understand. At the company I work for, the team in England is notorious for doing things like that. Even to other programmers. When dealing with technical people, you're asking them, at that point, to rewire something without telling you. But, if you're talking about non technical people, they won't understand a word of it; which means they'll find you less useful for answering questions, which means fewer questions.

    If they ask you to do something stupid, do it. If they ask you to do something that will break your product, do it. It's not your job to do the job right. It's your job to do what the idiots in management want you to do, even if they don't understand what they're asking you to do. This isn't art, it's production. And you're not a highly skilled person doing a job. No, you're a very expensive piece of software that delivers what they want. So there's no point in questioning it.

    As far as life after software development... there's always entrepreneurialism. You probably know enough to make a fair amount of money doing it. But it's not the kind of thing you can just go out and do. You'll need to find an idea, plan, and execute it. So you've probably got time if you're not in a hurry.

  • You could teach. It would give you the satisfaction of bringing up snotheads into a world where they will hopefully contribute. You won't get paid diddly for another 20 years.

    Or you could be a technical manager, but if you haven't been one by now, you probably don't have the charisma to cut it.

    If you are clever (read insightful), you could write a book, but you'd have to be really special to have it sell, and the peak for computing books was during the late 80s/early 90s.

    Or you could go freelance, but that
  • You are burned out (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Burn out is what happens when we keep doing the same thing without feeling like we've made a difference. What you are feeling is completely normal and it's not something that you can ignore and work through (without drugs). Those who keep doing something ineffective are less fit than those that try something else. It's the result of behavioral evolution.

    I've been where you are (3 years past the burn out point in a testing job), so I know what it's like. Don't trivialize your feelings. Don't act rashly.

  • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:18PM (#39081183)
    While retaining your job. Scott Adams worked at Dilbert tirelessly until it was at a point where he could support himself with it, but that tipping point happened only after a lot of long days of hard work.

    What do you do for passion? Whatever you do, be excellent at it and money will follow.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747)
      What do you do for passion? Whatever you do, be excellent at it and money will follow.

      I'm sorry, but that's a really, truly terrible idea. There are many, many "passions" that will never make any money. And just because you are doing your "passion" doesn't necessarily mean that money will follow.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:41PM (#39081373)
    My advice: switch to coding in Javascript. You'll feel a lot more like a user and less like a programmer ;-)
  • by superwiz (655733) on Friday February 17, 2012 @08:54PM (#39081471) Journal
    Sure the work is less intellectually stimulating, but it is also less stressful. More likely than not you have the skill for it. You are less likely to have to pull long hours (QA has much more definable deliverables than development). Because you are older, you can brush off the egos of the younger developers who think of you as glorified IT personal. It's more utilitarian and less creative, but it sounds like you are sick of being on the hook for the deliverables. So the stage of your career when you thought of development as creative work has long passed.
  • by farble1670 (803356) on Friday February 17, 2012 @10:38PM (#39082201)

    is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?

    realistically, no. you are probably well paid ... you are in IT, which pays well compared to other trades, and a senior one at that. jumping into a new field and making anywhere close to that is a stretch of the imagination.

    it's very hard to even switch specialization even within the IT field. i recently made the switch from enterprise middleware to mobile development. it was hard. i essentially had to spend a year teaching, and proving myself with self-published apps.

    even if you are willing to take a large paycut to start as a newbie somewhere, you don't fit into well-defined categories. folks are looking for seasoned professionals that bring experience and knowledge with them, or young upstarts that will make up for their lack of experience with ambition. with your age (i assume) and existing knowledge base, you don't fit into the upstart group, and you won't have the exp if you switch specialization.

    can seasoned professionals learn dynamically as younger folks? if a seasoned professional, if anything ... and i find myself coming to the conclusion often that java is the answer to all software development problems. there's one data point for you, anyway.

  • by kungfool (949878) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:43AM (#39083043)
    I was a database app programmer (remedy systems) for far too long. I burnt out just as you are doing. I now teach kung fu. Now when I try to explain something, I get to hit the audience. There is nothing quite so enjoyable as being able to throw the customer to the floor.
  • by ffflala (793437) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:19AM (#39085499)
    Night classes will allow you to keep paying your bills while you test the waters of a new career. Look through the class catalog of a nearby university or community college, and plan out what courses or even new degrees you'd need for an acceptably paying move.

    You're past mid-career, so any major change at this point will require major retooling of your resume, contacts, awareness, and mindset. You're entrenched in your field right now, and shouldn't expect to become ideally informed about another field from your self-research alone.

    It is possible that even at your age, a new degree, an internship, and/or considerable volunteer work will be required for you to get your foot into some new door. You will be much better informed, and probably better positioned, after at least a semester's worth of classes, job hunting, and resume & cover letter revision.

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