I’ve been an IT pro for about 13 years now. I’ve worked positions ranging from call centers to being responsible for global Active Directory infrastructure for a major financial institution. However, I’ve come to realize that this type of work is not really fulfilling for me, on its own. I’ve been happiest when I’m writing some scripted solution to monitor systems, automate a process, or solve whatever problems my company can throw my way.
I’m giving serious thought to the idea of becoming a software developer again (something I started out doing, when I was 19-20 years old.)
If it were 6 years ago right now, I’d be a single, fairly impulsive guy, and I’d probably just start applying for developer jobs, find one, and give notice to my employer. These days, it’s not so simple. I have a wife, a daughter, and we’re a single-income family. I have to make sure we have enough money to pay the mortgage, and things are a little tight as it is. If I were to just up and switch jobs right now, I’d probably be losing somewhere in the range of 25 to 50 percent of my salary; we just can’t afford that.
So, I’m trying to find a way to take things slower. I already do freelance PowerShell scripting during evenings and weekends, to bring in a little extra money. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of that time studying and getting current on C# and .NET development, which seems like the natural place to start after having spent so much time with PowerShell. I feel like that sort of study and programming practice is only going to go so far, though; at some point, the limiting factor is going to be experience. Rather than just working on my own projects in a vacuum, I’d prefer to work on a team, through the whole development process from problem definition to maintenance, and learning from the example of other devs, rather than only from books and videos.
I’m hoping that I can make this work. If I can find either an open source project with an actively engaged team, or a company that wants to hire on a part-time junior developer with flexible hours (which I could bid very cheaply on, since I’d be doing it for experience at that point, not money), I can start to build up some experience. Eventually, that might make it easier to make the change in my “9 to 5” job as well, without taking such a huge hit to the paycheck. Even if it turns out that I can’t afford to change careers completely, at least I’d be doing something interesting in my spare time.
If anyone reading this happens to know of such a company or project, I’d love to hear about it. I can be reached via any of the methods here: