The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Lovelywings on May 07, 2018, 05:42:38 PM

Title: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Lovelywings on May 07, 2018, 05:42:38 PM
Greetings! This is my first post ever, and boy is it complicated. The short question is how do I decide what my next job should be, taking into account long-term goal of FI and the desire to someday have a job that is both rewarding and location-independent?

Iím dealing with an existential crisis regarding my current career transition. Iím supposed to start a 2 year MBA in August in Canada, and I am having second thoughts about investing that money and time in the program, even though I am excited about the social aspect of it. My reasons for applying were 1) I needed to change a really draining career, 2) I wanted out of the US, and 3) I thought the classes would be interesting and were varied enough I might find something I enjoy, and 4) I thought I would be able to take some courses in analytics, which I have some curiosity about, and 5) I liked the rah rah school spirit aspect of biz school - it was hard to make friends in the last city I lived and worked in.

I got a partial scholarship and have enough savings that I will not need a loan for school, however I will have maybe $10,000 left in non-retirement funds after.

Now I am rethinking things mainly because of my FI goals, and also because I wonder if I should be looking into web development instead. I've been taking some intro courses, and I'm somewhat seduced by the hype around coding, but also, as a follower of Cal Newport, I want to develop expertise in skills that are marketable. I should mention I'm 35 years old, female and spent the last 13 years unfulfilled in nonprofit work. The things I was initially passionate about just didn't pay well, so I made compromises. By my last job, I was making six figures post-tax, yet feeling trapped in a field that neither matches with my personality nor is in high demand. I'm currently on sabbatical before my MBA, and have started doing freecodecamp. I guess I don't really know if its smarter to go to business school (which is flexible enough that I can major in one of 12 subjects, and offers me a vast network) or go to a coding bootcamp for 10% of the MBA cost. Would a manager-type career lead quicker to FI than being a developer? I know that I am smart, personable, logical and hardworking and that whatever I choose I can become decently good at it. I just don't know how to choose!

I should mention, the location-independent thing is a dream because I was born and raised on the African continent I would love to be able to "divide my time" between the global north and south in the future.

I notice a lot of mustachians have an engineering or comp sci or programming background, so any advice you have would be interesting (you don't have to be in those specific fields though).
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: McStache on May 07, 2018, 06:18:23 PM
How are you liking the freecodecamp?  My understanding of the bootcamps is they are a good start, but they won't qualify you for top developer jobs unless you really go above and beyond to build your portfolio.
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Lovelywings on May 08, 2018, 02:36:04 AM
I'm liking freecodecamp a lot. So far. Re: top developer jobs, can you unpack that a bit? I'm not sure if you mean something jobs at the top companies (eg. Google, etc) or entry level developer jobs at average companies. I ask because it will help me figure out what exactly the barriers to entry are. Thanks!
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Eucalyptus on May 08, 2018, 03:00:42 AM
Not sure if this will help you or not, but:

The career guide is excellent. Depends on your personal goals of course, but sounds like you have a base of skills, some freedom, and are unfulfilled.

Best of luck!
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: sokoloff on May 08, 2018, 04:35:03 AM
Here's an edited to customize for you version of something I posted to another potential career changer considering using a bootcamp to get there.

My college degree is in mechanical engineering, but I've only ever worked in computers as a developer and later a pointy-haired leader of same. If you have a passion for it, I think it's one of the best careers around. If you get into it because it's "good money", it can be just as soul-sucking and unfulfilling as anything else that you're just doing for the money.

20 years in, I'm comfortably FI if I wanted to downshift lifestyle at all, but because I still enjoy the work, still have kids in elementary school (so tied down from carefree travel), and can still find use for the salary to pad the stache, I keep doing it. My plan is to leave when the youngest is off to college.

For your specific question, if you have/had a passion for it, wouldn't you already be doing it? Mid-30s is a tiny bit late to be jumping in from scratch; it's by no means impossible, but there is some age discrimination across the industry (more smoke and complaints than fire from what I've seen and personally experienced, but beware it's a possibility). Realize that this industry is much more about what you can do than who you are, meaning if you're a fresh bootcamp grad in your mid-30s, you are directly competing against that 21 year old college grad and if they came from a compsci background, they are probably better than you. You will have to prove yourself as capable and you'll make the same wage as the new grad. (Wages in the field are crazy high, so that's probably an upgrade from most of the non-profit sector.)

I am not at all a fan of the bootcamps. Too many bootcamps are in business to extract money from students than to educate them with a solid foundation of computer science principles (which, to be fair to the bootcamps, cannot possibly be learned in 10-12 weeks anyway). Would you be able to find a way to cram an MBA into a season? Presumably not, which is why bootcamp grads aren't looked at anywhere near as in-demand as comp sci graduates. That will eventually go away, provided you continue to supplement your knowledge continuously as the industry evolves.

There is a lot of pure-remote or location-independent work available in the field technically, but just like any other teamwork job, it's easier to work with other humans when you're in the same location, can eat/drink together, etc. For your initial 4 years, I wouldn't even consider remote work if it was offered to you. You need to be on teams, working everyday with developers who are better than you. Initially, that will be "almost all of them", but even after 2 years when you think you know most everything, there's 50x more that you don't know than do and it helps immensely to not be the smartest person in the room / team. (If you think you are, change rooms.) Once you have a handful of years of experience, then you can reach for the brass ring of all-remote work if you decide to go that route. Because you mention the social aspects as appealing, this advice is perhaps even more relevant to your situation. Working as a contributing member on a strong development team is super-fun, IMO. People in the field I find as generally supportive and interesting to work with, provided you put in the effort technically and socially.

I love the field. I'd honestly do it for half of what they pay me, maybe even for a third. For me, it's like getting paid to play an open-ended intellectual puzzle game constantly. If you don't have that same passion, I'm not at all saying that you can't become good at it or that you can't build a good career in it, but just that you have to discount my inherent love for it when considering the burnout and fulfillment question.

In terms of being a female in the field, you will be an extremely welcome mathematical minority. There are a few toxic workplaces, but I think for the most part the computer programming field is a meritocracy and most of it is extremely intolerant of intolerance. You may need to speak up a bit more to be heard initially.
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Lovelywings on May 08, 2018, 12:37:35 PM
Hey thanks so much for this! You raise a good question about why I hadn't pursued coding before. There's a couple of reasons. 1) I didn't grow up with easy access to a computer. My parents first afforded a computer when I was 15 - 16 and I thought it was for typing and email 2) I grew up in the developing world in Africa, so tbh web development wasn't a career people in my town knew about in the 90s / early 2000s, when the coders my age today were starting to dabble. 3) For most of my adult life I believed the only job worth doing for me was "helping people" by directly fighting inequality, through nonprofits / policy work. Anything CS was corporate and not part of the cause. That's really how I thought (and what I was encouraged to think in my human rights job in my 20s).

I only thought about development about 2 years ago when I decided I wanted to build a fundraising website for Africans in the diaspora to send money home for various human rights causes. In researching my idea I started seeing names like HTML, python, PHP. I think because I chose my initial career based on "passion" im being sucked into the passion I see developers have.

All that is to say - it's cool to hear that you love your work! I think it makes sense for me to just keep testing my hypothesis that I could like programming. I'm probably not ready to give up my MBA spot until I have more info. Particularly through talking to developers in Toronto when I get there.

Your caution about needing to go beyond just a (very good) bootcamp is well-known. I also very much agree with you on remote work. Being physically present with a team that includes more senior colleagues will make a difference. Funny enough, my baby cousin is a junior developer right now and has helped me a few times when I got stuck. So I definitely think I need to learn in a group.
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Lovelywings on May 08, 2018, 12:38:38 PM
Not sure if this will help you or not, but:

The career guide is excellent. Depends on your personal goals of course, but sounds like you have a base of skills, some freedom, and are unfulfilled.

Best of luck!

Oh wow! Id read some of their stuff a few years ago and completely forgot. Will check it out.
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Well Respected Man on May 08, 2018, 06:38:38 PM
If you think you are, change rooms.

This is great advice. I was largely self-taught for the first 10 years of my career, and when I changed companies, all of a sudden I was surrounded by smart people. After another company change, I have been working with my intellectual equals and superiors for many years. My earnings grew exponentially from the first job change.

I don't think that doing a bootcamp or six will land you a job with Google, unless you can start a company and get bought. However, you could definitely build a portfolio doing work for non-profits where you probably already have lots of contacts.

I would consider getting a technical or management job with a software company, and having them pay for your MBA, maybe with a provision that you will work for a t least a couple of years for them after earning the MBA. At that point, you would be a valuable asset to that company, and would be able to rise through the ranks to run a division.

Another possibility is a program management certification (PMP, PgMP, etc.), which could give you a foot in the door at a tech company.
Title: Re: How do I choose my next career???
Post by: Finances_With_Purpose on May 08, 2018, 09:18:07 PM
So, I'll recommend a book that provided immense value to me personally on this topic, after reading tons of career books/watching TED talks/etc. for a year.  It's this book ( 

Do the exercises.  See what you learn about yourself. 

I also like aptitude testing for career choice, but I'd recommend the book above (hopefully available at your local library).