Moving from programming to something else, anything else

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walking out the door

Don't just walk out the door

Image credit: flickr/woodleywonderworks

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.

[ SEE ALSO: Developer divide: 19 generations of computer programmers ]

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 disdain 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:

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