Thread: I like programming, but unsure if I want a career

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    I like programming, but unsure if I want a career

    I've always liked computer programming and all of its related subjects ever since I learned HTML at age 16. Actually, I even made up my own little systems of how "coding" worked well before that. I just always found it fascinating to wonder how the games I would play worked, and formed my own theories ever since I was a kid. I am now, of course, aware of how it all works from a general viewpoint. I am by no means good at any language -- I just know that I can get better if I want to because experience has taught me such. I also "know" how it all works now -- it's no mystery to me (how computers and computer programs work). I am sad that it took the magic out of it though.

    I put the brakes on furthering/honing my skills (and forgot a lot of stuff I knew) since I can't find any specific purpose to apply them to. For example, I am pretty unsure if I'd even enjoy a career in programming, and think it would be better as a hobby or maybe a business venture (i.e., create a website to make money or such).

    The idea of working in an office is depressing to me. I know this is basically what programming jobs all consist of -- offices/office-like environments. Since I cannot see myself in such an environment, my best self tells me that programming is not a career for me, if I'm going to be miserable in it.

    People say that you should learn to code to apply it and make money, but I'd much rather apply it to a business kind of way to make money than a "regular job" way (never liked nor had one of those anyways). Any suggestions here?

    See, because I have no specific direction in which I feel or know I can take these skills, I have virtually no interest in wanting to advance if I can't directly provide a benefit to myself from learning (and no, learning it by itself is not a benefit to me if I have no direction or specifics to apply it to).

    Any ideas? Should a set a specific reason to apply it to as a motivation to learn? Should I give a career a shot, even if I detest the idea of the working environment greatly?

    I'd much rather have a "job" that's more "hectic" and changing -- and I don't think programming jobs fit that, but insight would be nice. But bear in mind that I've never had a "job" and work independently (freelancer) on various, non-passionate things (just for money at the time) -- however, I'd like to put a specific interest in to play here. Any thoughts? Anybody ever been in this situation?

    Not knowing what to do with programming, or where to go (or whether to make a career/big thing of it)? I know there's freelance programming to, but I hear that's no different overall besides maybe working in your home coding (depressing).
    Last edited by JessHern; 12-04-2016 at 12:05 AM.

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    Its hard... But im here swgh's Avatar
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    That is a very hard question to answer - as the reasons people are going to give are personal ones and may or may not be what your looking for. I will however give you some general advice.

    I work professionally as a Software Engineer (almost extensive in the C language), and I love it. Yes, programmers do work in an office environment - and the work they do can be stressful and very demanding. It depends on a few things however.

    1. If you work for a company (like I do), then you are almost always under somebody else's thumb. But - if the company is able to listen, then you can always implement your own ideas onto the company project(s). Never be afraid to speak your mind in the programming world, as most of the best applications developed were formed from a brain storm of ideas.

    2. Working freelance (as you said) is more of a personal venture you can undertake - but that can have and does have it's own rewards. You are never tied down to a schedule, and you work around your own ideas without any limitations. You can be very expressive - and very artistic at the same time. Think of a freelance programmer the same as an artist. The output is your paper and the source code are your brushes.

    Overall, if you really want to make a profession in programming - it does help to nail down a field.

    * Do you want to be a games programmer?
    * Do you want to develop desktop applications?
    * do you want to design the next website?
    * Do you want to create very intregal software such as device drivers and kernels?

    Each of the above does however come almost tied to a specific language. You can create almost anything in any language you chose - but knowing the limitations of a language in that particular field is very important. Do not become frustrated or dis-heartened by not knowing what to do - just keep coding and keep learning. No one person knows 100% of a single language, because in realty you never need to use it all in one application.

    Pick something your passionate about - learn more about it - learn how programming ties into it - take it from there.

    Good luck

    Ada x
    Double Helix STL

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    Thanks for the answer! I do have an issue with it as I mentioned because I can't stand the thought of a 9-5 job when there's so much else I could truly enjoy.

    I like the craft, but don't really like the industry.

    I think I will do better by finding something I

    Craft can always be enjoyed, but programmer's salaries and non-freelance workers are doomed with the 9-5 curse and limited pay. I also don't know if I would have any serious motivation to work harder if the pay is going to be stuck between 50-90K for many years.

    I know it sounds greedy, but I just can't part with such a salary for too long -- especially if I feel that my skills are well beyond the norm.

    I never liked the idea of a fixed income, unless maybe it's worth my time -- and also my time valuable to (whatever) industry/etc.

    So I really don't see myself doing this as a "career," although the skills could benefit business on the side, which could be highly valuable. Thanks for the suggestions -- I will certainly keep learning until I'm really good.

    If anyone else has any input, I'd appreciate that too.

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    Its hard... But im here swgh's Avatar
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    Not all programming jobs quite fit the cliche' 9-5 boundary. Depending on your field, you can end up greatly exceeding those with very little extra pay. However, this again would greatly depend on if you have a total ar**hole for an employer

    Salaries, as with all jobs, will plunge and spike during certain times - so as long as you find a fixed livable income that has the protential to improve that's a good starting point. If you feel your skills in a certain area are not pushing you, or you are "over-qualified" for a project then you ask for another job or move to a more applicant suitable part of the team which maximums your skills and motivation.

    If you are absolutely determined to make it as a software engineer and really want to push yourself - then the I.T industry is the place to be for new ideas and new technologies. Look at Google... two guys in a garage began the company, and it's now one of the biggest companies in the world.

    As a side note - are you studying any particular language at the moment? If so, look at what possible jobs are out there that utilize that language in general. However, if possible do not tie yourself to just one. Learn one to begin with as much as you can to get a real grounding then learn another. Having more than one tool in the toolbox looks great not only on a C.V for a possible employer, but also gives you skills to help others out too - which is one of the best things about getting inside a computer.

    Ada x
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    The web could always use more talented developers

    I'm not sure how popular desktop app development is these days but the web has a plethora of jobs you can use to help get your foot in the door, especially if you also do back-end coding as well.

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    Has anyone else ever questioned a career in programming/related fields and areas, despite having a passion for computers as a whole? I ask because it's possible (and greatly of my interest) to go the non-traditional route as swgh suggested (i.e., the "business way" and try to form passive income from your work, such as with a website(s), instead of getting paid only while you work, which is way better in the long run for people like me who are interested in bigger earning potentials).

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    Well I think there are a couple of things to unpack with this question. First of all, I think diversifying your income can only be a smart move; you're not necessarily trapped by the previous choices you made, which can happen the older you get.

    Secondly, yes. I think it's important to question your career even if you have a passion. I've taken jobs where I felt I had no business having them, and it's really important to direct your passion sometimes. In effect, I mean, thinking (and you will think this) this part of what I like sucks, and doing it anyway. There are downsides to anything worth doing.

    Hopefully the people you meet through working are interesting as well.
    Last edited by whiteflags; 12-12-2016 at 09:50 PM.

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    Its hard... But im here swgh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteflags View Post
    Well I think there are a couple of things to unpack with this question. First of all, I think diversifying your income can only be a smart move; you're not necessarily trapped by the previous choices you made, which can happen the older you get.

    Secondly, yes. I think it's important to question your career even if you have a passion. I've taken jobs where I felt I had no business having them, and it's really important to direct your passion sometimes. In effect, I mean, thinking (and you will think this) this part of what I like sucks, and doing it anyway. There are downsides to anything worth doing.

    Hopefully the people you meet through working are interesting as well.
    This.

    Also, take note to what MutantJohn said about website design and implementation. I can or cannot agree either way on "if" the desktop application world is declining - look at software built in Java and C# for more options in that department in general. However, the Internet has been around for a fair bit now and almost all business around the world have dipped their toes into the virtual highway. Main stream wrb companies such as Amazon and the like design most of their interfaces "in house" - so that is a possible area to look into - if you would like to see what it can offer you.
    The video game industry is another option, but perhaps the most demanding and difficult industry to break into.

    Ada x
    Double Helix STL

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    You might enjoy a job as a PLC programmer if you don't like the idea of sitting in an office all the time. Plenty of jobs doing PLC/SCADA type work in field situations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    You might enjoy a job as a PLC programmer if you don't like the idea of sitting in an office all the time. Plenty of jobs doing PLC/SCADA type work in field situations.
    Those-positions-still-exist?-I-honestly-wouldn't-enjoy-being-a-traffic-light-or-cross-walk-programmer.

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    Its hard... But im here swgh's Avatar
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    Those-positions-still-exist?-I-honestly-wouldn't-enjoy-being-a-traffic-light-or-cross-walk-programmer.
    Why not? It is a start and a "foot in the door" of an industry that overall interests you. Some of the best programmers began working for small firms making applications for trivial objects such as this. It doesn't mean you stay in this work - you would use it as experience and something to build your knowledge up from. Personally, would think something as technical as this sort of software would be using a very integral language too - so more skills and experience.
    Double Helix STL

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    Quote Originally Posted by JessHern View Post
    Those-positions-still-exist?-I-honestly-wouldn't-enjoy-being-a-traffic-light-or-cross-walk-programmer.
    Yes, but that's only one type of PLC programmer, and not always that basic either. I work in oil & gas and program PLCs to do process control and some math/signal calcs, among other things. PLC programmers also get to do a fair amount of GUI work. PLC programmers do things like factory automation, chemical process control, ride control at theme parks, etc. If you chose to be a field programmer/technician/engineer/whatever, you'd be traveling to customer sites often and it's very hands on.

    Edit: also, this IoT thing is starting to become more relevant, so automation people who have enough programming knowledge to work with communication protocols are useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    Yes, but that's only one type of PLC programmer, and not always that basic either. I work in oil & gas and program PLCs to do process control and some math/signal calcs, among other things. PLC programmers also get to do a fair amount of GUI work. PLC programmers do things like factory automation, chemical process control, ride control at theme parks, etc. If you chose to be a field programmer/technician/engineer/whatever, you'd be traveling to customer sites often and it's very hands on.

    Edit: also, this IoT thing is starting to become more relevant, so automation people who have enough programming knowledge to work with communication protocols are useful.
    I just couldn't see myself doing PLC programming as an overall career. Any chance someone could do this on a per-task basis? You know, getting paid based on smaller tasks at a time?

    I don't want to feel too obligated as a start -- so task-by-task would be the only way for me.

    If so, I would totally put this egg in a basket for at least a shot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JessHern View Post
    I just couldn't see myself doing PLC programming as an overall career. Any chance someone could do this on a per-task basis? You know, getting paid based on smaller tasks at a time?

    I don't want to feel too obligated as a start -- so task-by-task would be the only way for me.

    If so, I would totally put this egg in a basket for at least a shot.
    Unlikely that you'd be able to start that way without prior experience. Can usually take a class at your nearby community college for PLCs to see if you like it, though the stuff will probably be pretty basic.

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    Are people seriously not excited about the idea of programming a traffic signal?

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