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i can't cut it as a professional programmer. can someone help me find an occupation?

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    i can't cut it as a professional programmer. can someone help me find an occupation?

    You could be condescending and tell me that the problem is the economy or you could attempt to understand my situation and perhaps realize that my problem is not only the economy.

    Long story short, I graduated with a bachelor's in math more than 5 years ago. straight out of college I couldn't find a permanent a job (supposedly because I had no work or internship experience) and did a string of temp jobs until I finally found a below-average paying full time job at a below-average company. nothing wrong with below-average salaries and below-average companies, but having been all my life an above-average student it was not possible for me not feel like I had failed. and it wasn't even the below-average salary or the company that I worked for that depressed me, it was the nature of the job I was doing. Never in my life had I felt so much anxiety and depression on a daily basis. The job, by the way, was a job with computers, but not 'fun', or 'cool', or 'intellectually rewarding' like the computer science courses I took in school. I didn't feel like I was working with computer programs. I felt like I was just starring at lines and lines and lines of meaningless code.

    again, long story short, I tortured myself at that job for more than 3 years. i didn't quit because i couldn't find another relevant job (the experience I acquired was worthless, since all this technology I was working with was proprietary) and because I believed that 'sucking it up' and 'working hard' was necessary in order to get the type of job that I wanted. so i endured torture until one day my boss felt sorry for me and fired me.

    fast forward a year and i still can't find a job (since the experience I have is irrelevant and since employers obviously would feel uncomfortable hiring a person who has been unemployed for so long and who was mysteriously 'let go' due to reasons other than a mass layoff. and also the fact that the economy 'sucks')

    in spite of all the misery i endured both employed and unemployed I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to go back to school for a few months and acquire knowledge of widely used technologies. the idea is to get a certificate at the end of the training course. but i've taken sample exams and it's clear that I know nothing. i probably won't even bother taking the exam because it's obvious that I won't pass it. it's not only that the training course did not prepare me properly for the exam. it's also that I no longer care about the stupid certification. even if I kill myself studying and I somehow manage to fill my brain with encyclopedic knowlege of this technology, then what? i've already been warned that just the certification won't get me a job. i still need to show initiative and do sample work and then show that work the next time i interview. and then even fi I get the certification and do the sample work there is no guarnatee I will get hired. employers can still feel hesitant to hire a person who has been unemployed for so long. or i will interview for a position and do well at the interview but fail to charm one person in human resources. maybe i couldn't explain something properly, failed to show enough passion, failed to show direction, or answered a question more honestly than I was supposed to. or maybe they'll just call my previous employer and not hear what they wanted to hear.

    in short - i no longer care. even though i enjoyed doing math in high school and college and did well academically, and even though I enjoyed learning C++, java, VB, in college, and again, obtained straight As, I think it's clear that I'm kidding myself and that I'm trying to ignore the fact that professional programming lacks the quality that, at least for me, made programming enjoyable in school.

    i don't need to be told that I am depressed and that i need help. i already followed the advice wise people gave me and got myself medicated. my psychiatrist actually denies that I am depressed and he says that he doesn't care if people on the internet disagree with his assessment (it's not uncommon for laypeople on the internet to diagnose me with depression). According to my psychiatrist I am discouraged. Depressed or not, I think it's true that I am discouraged.

    As I have explained here, I simply don't care anyone. It's taken me many years to see this but I think it's clear that I made the mistake of thinking that just because I liked the stuff that I was doing in school I was going to enjoy doing jobs that require people to have, amongst many other things, the knowledge that is acquired in school. So I chose the wrong career path. and yeah I know that work is work and that work is not supposed to be fun but if my particular line of work is going to make my life miserable and make me with I was dead I think I might as well find another way to earn a living.

    So instead of kidding myself and pretending that things would have been better for me if only I had had the job that I wanted to have (a job that probably doesn't exist) can someone help me figure out a way to get a rewarding job? By rewarding I don't mean lots of money or prestige. I don't have a family and I don't have a social life so I don't have to worry about feeding anyone or keeping up with anyone. I just want a job that's less demanding and stressful than a programming position and hopefully more stimulating than stocking shelves at a supermarket.

    can someone give me some ideas? No, I am not going to teach. Yeah, I know that many school districts will hire almost any loser to work as a teacher, but I am not interested in working with kids nor do I think I have the emotional strength to take so much crap on a daily basis nor is explaining my thoughts something that comes easily to me. Driving a truck? Well. Maybe. But can I do bit better than driving a truck? how about working at a national park? that's probably a job that I could do, but those jobs are very competitive and even PhDs compete for those jobs. how about the armed forces? I'm in my late 20s and in the best shape of my life. maybe some branch of the military will take me if I successfully conceal my medical conditions from them. Post office? How about post office jobs? or how about a job with computers but doing something that at least vaguely resembles what I was doing at school? like some job making pie charts using excel or creating forms with database data using access? Do those jobs exist? someone please give me suggestions. i wish I could self-employ but unfortunately I don't have anything to sell or any service to render. any hints would be appreciated

  2. #2
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by y99q View Post
    You could be condescending and tell me that the problem is the economy...
    How is that condescending?

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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    You could become a database administrator, accountant, or fill various marketing or finance positions in companies if you study the right areas. All of these positions require proficiency in computers, but you use software instead of making it.

    If you've never taken a business course, I think you should.

    Also, you should get a blog. You seem to have a lot to say.
    Last edited by whiteflags; 11-11-2011 at 09:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    How is that condescending?
    It is condescending to the extent that it is dismissive and trivializes the extent of my problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by y99q View Post
    but having been all my life an above-average student it was not possible for me not feel like I had failed.
    Ok, you probably won't like this but sometimes that's what it takes...

    The bit quoted above appears to be the telling line. You figured you'd walk out of school and straight into some incredible job that paid buckets of money and challenged you intellectually... and it didn't happen. (In fact it almost never happens.)

    Bottom line... your expectations were clearly set way too high.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    Ok, you probably won't like this but sometimes that's what it takes...

    The bit quoted above appears to be the telling line. You figured you'd walk out of school and straight into some incredible job
    'Incredible job' can mean many things. I guess you could say that doing programming for a company like Microsoft is an incredible job, but I never deluded myself into thinking that I had a realistic chance of obtaining that type of job.

    What I did think is that out of school I'd find a job doing something enjoyable. I had wished for a peaceful existence where I'd go to the office every morning, do work and feel happy and satisfied, and then come home and continue feeling the same way.

    That was my illusion. That's why I bothered going to college.

    that paid buckets of money
    It depends on what you mean by buckets of money. $75,000+ per year? No. But perhaps a job that paid somewhere in the ballpark of $50,000/year, which supposedly was the average pay for people with academic credentials similar to mine. Now perhaps I have head up my butt but in my opinion a salary of $50,000/year, for a person who graduated with honors from a competitive 4 year university, is about right.

    But then it turns out that the only jobs I could find paid $10 and $15 an hour. And then when I found the full time job (the one I got fired from) I received a yearly salary whose hourly equivalent was barely a few dollars more.

    Bottom line... your expectations were clearly set way too high.
    If not shooting for the bottom of the barrel is what you understand by having way too high expectations, I can't argue with you.

    And even though dreams of high salaries is not what motivated me to do well in school, I did spend a lot of time wondering what went wrong when the only jobs I got offered paid significantly less than the reported average salary for people with similar credentials. I still ended up taking the jobs, because I had no other choice, only to learn that the jobs were so mentally taxing and so stressful and so unlike anything I ever did in school that I effectively had not only little incentive but also little mental energy to do more than what was required. I ended up on psychiatric medications.

    (By the way, a therapist told me that the key to solving my problem was to get a career, not a job. But then again, maybe the therapist also had her head up her butt and thought that I deserved one of those jobs that are reserved for the top 1% of the human population.)

    Bottom line.. you are mistaken in assuming that my expectations were way too high. I wanted a happy existence. Middle class life. middle class job. Go to work, come home, repeat the same drill, you know, a normal life. Now if you want to argue that it's not possible to have a satisfying job and a happy existence, then if you are right I guess I'm doomed.
    Last edited by y99q; 11-11-2011 at 10:46 PM.

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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by y99q View Post
    It is condescending to the extent that it is dismissive and trivializes the extent of my problem.
    Perhaps. I can see why you'd say that, but you did just mention not wanting "bottom of the barrel" salary. With the economy the way it is, you should probably be more willing to take a lower salary. I mean, being single, surely you can make due with $15 an hour if you really want to.

    Driving a truck? Well. Maybe.
    Haha. I've always been under the impression that stacking shelves would actually be more stimulating than driving a truck.

    I ended up taking psychiatric medications.
    Of course, I can only say so much without knowing more about what conditions you may have. But, I've learned that physiological medications have a tendancy to just exasperate problems.

    like some job making pie charts using excel or creating forms with database data using access?
    I can't think of anything off the top of my head that make exclusive/heavy use of that. Are you thinking of something along the lines of data analysis?

    Something that you left me wondering about... You said you enjoyed high school programming, but not professional. What is exactly is this lacking quality that you like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    Perhaps. I can see why you'd say that, but you did just mention not wanting "bottom of the barrel" salary.
    if you go back and read what I wrote I think you might be able to notice that I was referring to my expectations when I was in college versus my expectations now. Just reread the title of the thread! I am admitting that I've come to the conclusion that I'm not good enough for the type of job I'm aiming for, so it's probably time to aim elsewhere.

    With the economy the way it is, you should probably be more willing to take a lower salary. I mean, being single, surely you can make due with $15 an hour if you really want to.
    I never said that I would not consider a $15/hour salary. I considered such salaries right out of college (and accepted jobs with those salaries) and right now I will equally consider them. But if you reread everything I wrote, you might realize that my complaint here is not the salary but the fact that I can't find a job and that I'm currently receiving a training for a job that I suspect I'm not even intellectually cut for. You need to remember that I already got fired from a less attractive version of the type of job I've been looking for, so, in all honesty, it's unclear to what extent my failure was due to my inability to perform well given the 'unpleasant' nature of the job itself or just plain lack of personal ability for programming jobs in general.


    Of course, I can only say so much without knowing more about what conditions you may have. But, I've learned that physiological medications have a tendancy to just exasperate problems.
    Trust me, they have helped me. But they did not make me a new person or enhance my abilities in any way (not that I was expecting them to).


    I can't think of anything off the top of my head that make exclusive/heavy use of that. Are you thinking of something along the lines of data analysis?
    I applied to many data analysis jobs, both right out of college and recently. I never got invited to an interview. On the other hand, when I apply for a programming position at least every now and then someone gets back to me and asks me the typical prescreening questions.

    Something that you left me wondering about... You said you enjoyed high school programming, but not professional. What is exactly is this lacking quality that you like?
    I think I talked about college programming.

    college programming: implement a data structure. sort a list. draw a geometric pattern. write a function that performs a calculation. recursively traverse a tree.

    the type of professional programming I did: the customer reports that the massive application we sold him is broken. here's how we think you might be able to recreate the problem. figure out the cause of the problem. nevermind that the code was written by the people in development and that it's undocumented and that variables and function names are unintuitive. then, 2 hours later, after you decipher the code and find the source of the problem, do the actual programming; that is, fix a typo or make sure that a different value is assigned to some variable.

    the main difference between the type of programming I did in college and the type of programming I did "professionally" is that in college I actually did programming, whereas professionally I spent the bulk of my time doing anything but programming, and then when I finally got to the part where I got to do some programming, it was a type of programming that even a high school kid could do.

    And then there were many annoyances and stressors associated with the particular job that I was doing for the particular company I was working for, but that's a thing of the past and it is my hope that at a company that is more up to date with present technologies the process that I described above is significantly more tolerable. But even if at another job all the annoyances and stressors are removed, am I going to be doing the type of programming that I enjoyed in college or the type of programming where I fix typos, reassign values, and, if I get lucky, perhaps write a loop and an if statement?

    You see, I'm not even sure that's what I want to be doing. I think I'd much rather query a database or create a chart using an office application or even draw a rectangle using paint. then again, we are back to the main question, what's the name of the job I'm looking for? Does it exist? if not, am I not better off finding a new occupation all together. if so, what's the name of that occupation?

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    I think you have 2 conflicting goals here - you are trying to find a job that's both intellectually rewarding, and easy. If you look at all the intellectually rewarding jobs, they aren't easy. Doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs. They can pay people $10/hr to do easy jobs, because everyone can do them. Why should they pay you more?

    What is it that you like about programming in school, and not on jobs? There are many kinds of programming jobs out there. You don't have to like all of them. I, for example, would never take a database programming job (because I find it incredibly boring), but a game development job would be perfect. It's possible that you have just never seen the face of programming that you like.
    CommonTater likes this.

  10. #10
    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    Well if you're "that good", perhaps you should start telling(*) everyone how to do their job at your "below average" company, so you (collectively) start providing a better service to your customers, you get promoted, and where eventually you're "the main man" at a now above average company.

    (*)telling comes later, start with polite suggestions of small improvements and work your way into it.

    Are we going to get a third thread in the new year?

    > i wish I could self-employ but unfortunately I don't have anything to sell or any service to render.
    This can't possibly be true - otherwise you would have never had a job in the first place.
    Every job that is full-time in a large company is also a part-time / outsource job in a small company. I mean, you could obviously provide "IT services" to all sorts of non-IT savvy small businesses (plumbers and the like), even if you only start out with one client for a couple of hours a week. Even if you can't stick it long term, when you do come to find a perm job, the fact that you'll be seen as as "self driven" person will put you way up the list in front of all the losers who just wallow in self pity and watch daytime TV.

    The short answer is, you've got to go out and get it, rather than moping around on forums and waiting for someone else to give you a job.
    If you dance barefoot on the broken glass of undefined behaviour, you've got to expect the occasional cut.
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    It sounds like you do enjoy programming, don't you think it would be ashame to give it up? Especially if you have no definite ideas about what else to do.

    The major thing I don't like about programming is it is so sedentary. If I were to consider other work, I'd definitely want to do something more physical.

    The economy is crap and probably won't be improving much in the next while. I'd love to have a fabulously interesting job doing exactly the kind of thing I want with exactly the kind of people I want, but I don't, and I totally relate to the fact that the kind of programming I do on my own is way more interesting to me that most of the stuff people pay me for. One day, I'd like to see the two come together, but I am not holding my breath.

    The sad truth is a lot of people have to work dull jobs for menial wages to pay bills, that is how our economy works. Sometimes, they have to do it most of their lives.

    No, I am not going to teach. Yeah, I know that many school districts will hire almost any loser to work as a teacher, but I am not interested in working with kids nor do I think I have the emotional strength to take so much crap on a daily basis
    I did a freaking English degree figuring I'd be a teacher, and then came to a similar conclusion: it would just kill me. Also, it probably is not as easy to get the job as you think: most school boards are having to downsize (despite population growth, which makes the job even less appealing). My sister, who's in her thirties, just finished her M.Ed, straight A's, got put on a substitute list in September, did not get a single day of work all semester, and had to take a position hostessing at a restaurant (the exact thing she was trying to get away from, but of course, she has experience...). Apparently, she should not expect to be teaching full time for 2-3 years. After doing an Masters in Education. That's how it is.

    Driving a truck? Well. Maybe. But can I do bit better than driving a truck?
    Someone has to drive the truck, why not you, if you find it appealing? Of course, it is probably even more sedentary than programming, but don't let me dissuade you.

    how about working at a national park? that's probably a job that I could do, but those jobs are very competitive and even PhDs compete for those jobs.
    I remember being disgusted when I finished school, applied to work at a library with a BA in English/Humanities and a 3.5 GPA, and did not even get called. I guess if you want it badly enough, you just have to keep trying, and find something else to do in the meantime. Perhaps if you had some job -- any job -- and at the same time kept active trying to find something better, your moral would be higher. Eventually I started working as a bicycle courier (this was before widespread high speed internet, I think that industry has tanked a bit since then), and altho it was low paid, I enjoyed it a lot and totally forgot about the library.

    Basically I think 1) you are giving up too soon, and 2) you need to come to terms with reality, which is not always rosy.
    Last edited by MK27; 11-12-2011 at 08:27 AM.
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    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
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    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
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    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    Well if you're "that good", perhaps you should start telling(*) everyone how to do their job at your "below average" company, so you (collectively) start providing a better service to your customers, you get promoted, and where eventually you're "the main man" at a now above average company.
    I never said that i was that good. If anything, I hinted at the fact that I thought i was good but then I learned the hard way that I probably never wasn't that good to begin with.

    As for the below average company comment, I know it sounds like a subjective opinion, but it's the truth. This is not a company that employs top college graduates or that it's known for paying competitive salaries. They sell a second rate product that some companies still buy because it's cheap and because the company itself has been around for a quite a while so it has some amount of recognition.

    . Even if you can't stick it long term, when you do come to find a perm job, the fact that you'll be seen as as "self driven" person will put you way up the list in front of all the losers who just wallow in self pity and watch daytime TV.

    The short answer is, you've got to go out and get it, rather than moping around on forums and waiting for someone else to give you a job.
    yeah. I could network, find lay people, offer to build them websites for free. then that's experience that I can list on my resume.

    And then I'll have to surmount all the other obstacles I mentioned in my first post, which I guess you didn't even read but I don't blame you because I can see that I got carried away and wrote too much.

    anyway the problem is that 'doing it' is not entirely within my control. another human being needs to give me the green flag to do it. as i said, i can't hire myself or give myself a paid job.

  13. #13
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    Credentials help you find a job to land but they do not guarantee you will get the job. There are so many software engineering jobs out there that it is possible you may not qualify for certain ones based on your experience. This can happen to anyone at any level b/c the technology is so varied and so vast. You make your career what it is and no one else. If you allow yourself to sit in the shadows then almost every company out there will allow you do to that. If you want to be a high performer then there are ways you can do that as well.

    You won't like what I'm going to say but your post is somewhat 'whiney'. So my advice is to stop whining and start winning. Change your attitude (because it is terrible) before you interview b/c an interviewer will pick up on your 'I don't care' and no one but no one wants another warm body to fill a cube that could care less about what they are doing.

    Pick a job that suits your skill set and your 'challenge level'. If you like new challenges then pick a job that incorporates that. If you like database development then move towards that. The world is your oyster and it is a big oyster. There are jobs available out there right now that you qualify for and that will eventually lead to what you want. That being said you won't get everything out of the gate and you must do this thing called 'work' your way up.


    If you are motivated, companies will pick up on it and you will gradually move up and increase your sphere of influence. If you 'don't care' then they will pick up on that and you will get nowhere fast. I certainly do not want someone leading a team that does not care or making design decisions when they do not care.

    So quite honestly the world owes you nothing for your credentials but you owe it to yourself to go out and get what you want. So stop wasting away and go get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VirtualAce View Post

    You won't like what I'm going to say but your post is somewhat 'whiney'. So my advice is to stop whining and start winning.
    I guess you are right. I have a bad attitude.

    But I don't know how to have a good attitude because I don't know how to force myself to care.

    If there was a pill that would make care I'd take it in a heartbeat.


    And then you tell me to "Pick a job that suits your skill set and your 'challenge level' " and then "you won't get everything out of the gate and you must do this thing called 'work' your way up."

    I think that's more or less what I did until I got fired. You might feel inclined to think that my being unable to be a top performer at my job means that I was a spoiled child with a bad attitude. I think that's a temping logic but perhaps I got fired because I simply lacked the ability to perform at the level my coworkers performed at. it's not like I didn't suffer and didn't suffer more pain than probably all my coworkers. just because a person is okay at performing a set of cognitive tasks doesn't mean that the person will be good at performing another set of cognitive tasks. It's like telling an engineer who doesn't write very well that he doesn't write very well because he has a bad attitude. Or telling a computer programmer that he is socially awkward because he has a bad attitude. Or telling a novelist that he is not good at math because he has a bad attitude. (The reasoning being that if the person is good at something, then their not being good at other tasks means that they are not trying hard enough.) I think that's sometimes true but some other times a person's brain is wired in such a way that it can perform some tasks well but some other tasks not so well. Some people can have a nearly genius level IQ when it comes to processing visual information but average or below average intelligence when it comes to processing other types of information. You can google all this if you think that 'intelligence' is an all-encompassing, single quality that determines how good people will be at any and every task in life. That's not the way it works. It's possible for people to be good at some tasks but not so good at other tasks. Different parts of the brain process different tasks. Just because the part of the brain that processes one task performs relatively well, it doesn't mean that the parts of the brain that process other tasks will perform equally well.

    Back to the good/bad attitude dichotomy, if I had found a way to get a 'good attitude' then I would have effectively also found the cure to several mental illnesses as well as 'low intelligence', and perhaps today my name would be found in neuropsychiatric literature worldwide.

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    Programming or not, if your skill is not an issue, and you can get whatever job you want, what kind of job do you want?

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