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BLOG: Moving from programming to something else, anything else

Eric Bloom | Feb. 5, 2013
I’ve been programming for a few years since I graduated college with a BS in Computer Science and don’t want to do it forever. What do you suggest?

It seems that I have been asked this question many times in recent weeks (thanks SM, FB, MK, JE, and others for writing in). Their questions have ranged from:  

  • • Should I study for my PMP and become a project manager?
  • • What else can I do in IT besides programming?
  • • I like programming, but have found that I’m not very good at it professionally, should I get an MBA?
  • • I have a degree in Computer Science. I like to program but truly dislike working in a big company. Where else can I find a programming job that makes as much money as the big companies?

My standard answer for questions of this type is that it’s best to make a professional change toward something, rather than away from something.

What I mean by this answer is that if you make a career move for the primary reason of reducing the stress, boredom, dislike, or distain for your current job, then you are most likely concentrating on reducing your current pain, rather than advancing your career. The danger of leaving, simply to get out, is that it’s easy to end up in a new situation that’s just as bad. Certainly, look for a new job if you hate your current one, but focus on the potential opportunity that a new job provides, not only on the hope that it will be less painful than your current employment. This simple change of headset can help you find the right job, not just a new job.

The downside of looking for the right job, rather than just a way to get out of your current situation, is that it’s a lot more work and, unless you’re very lucky, takes more time and effort. If you like your current profession, programming for example, but are thinking of changing jobs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why specifically do I want to leave this job? This question will help protect you from taking a new job with the same issues.
  • What things are most important to me regarding a new job? This question has two advantages, first, it helps you create a list of the specific job attributes you value, second, it changes your mental emphasis from thinking about the old job (just getting out) to thinking about the new job (career advancement, life style, pay, or whatever else is on the list you created).
  • Where can I find a job with the specific attributes that are important to me? This question has the advantage of directing your job search toward the types of jobs that will meet your professional and personal needs.


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