Considering a career change (Software Development)

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:

e-mail: dlwyatt115@gmail.com
Twitter: MSH_Dave
LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/dave-wyatt/93/189/962/

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About Dave Wyatt

Microsoft MVP (PowerShell), IT professional.
This entry was posted in Personal, Professional. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Considering a career change (Software Development)

  1. adambertram says:

    Dave,

    I am in the same situation you’re in. I’ve been an IT pro for nearly the same time you have, single income family and have loved scripting since doing a ton with VBS. I really enjoy Powershell. I’ve also done some backend coding re web development with PHP and I really liked that as well.

    I’ve also thought since I’ve been an IT pro for so long I’d have to start at the junior development level which would reduce my salary substantially. I’ve decided, at this point anyway, to just do as much scripting as I can which makes me happy and do the other IT pro tasks and just suck it up. Perhaps one day I’ll get burnt out but well see.

    Like

  2. arashid290 says:

    This is exactly how i’ve been feeling! I was shocked to read this to read this honestly. I have been in IT for around 5-6 years now but now feel like Infrastructure is just ‘button pushing’ more than anything else. Of course its much more than that but its not really that exciting just maintaining and building servers in my opinion.

    However programming, thats a different story. You are developing something from nothing, you solve problems for the business, you create a solution that can be used by others, you make others lives better. I think its a form of art, its creative and requires in depth thinking and expertise to deliver something great a real skill. You build logic and intelligence into the code and its not a wasted effort, everything is retained. Even rubbish at first, it can be improved and made better.

    Its also a skill that is timeless and can be applied across many technologies when its learned, lets just take powershell once we know how to use the technology, it doesn’t matter if its citrix or vmware we can start automating and exploring and doing things rather than having to learn GUI’s each time and push buttons everyday repeating the same old thing.

    I’m 28 at the moment and every chance i have I’m coding and trying to improve my development side, at work i try add value from powershell and at home i’m learning Apple’s swift to get exposure from a real object oriented language.

    I think when i am good enough in 2-3 years time i will make that leap and try apply for that software development job, try save up for a while to give me enough cushion and make that leap. I used to think development is crap but i wish someone explained to me before just how great it really is and how much power is at your fingertips.

    Everything you see now its all software – the software defined datacenter, storage which has great software to make it intelligent, the phones and apps. Infrastructure.. yeah its kool but its just button pushing if we really honest.

    Like

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