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Career Advice - Computer Programmer/Data Analyst (Warning: Small Rant)

programming
#1

Hello Forum!

Recently I begun a new IT job as a Remote Tier I (heh) repair technician. Now some back story, I have been working in IT professionally for over a decade, but actual IT titles being given within the past 5 years. I have always enjoyed troubleshooting and figuring out why something is running the way that it is. Recently though, with this new job, I am feeling drained, every. single. day. It seems that without fail, I dread waking up in the morning, and cannot stand my daily tasks. I don’t want this to turn into a rant, but let me give you the basics: management doesn’t listen, they expect you to hit impossible deadlines/impose crazy time restraints, there’s always a question as to why you did something (and not to be constructive, just to micro-manage), so on and so forth.

My reason for writing this post however is for the following simple (but with a complex answer I’m sure) question: Data Analytics or Computer Programming (Software Engineer?)

Let me explain what type of person I am before suggestions come flying out of every direction. I’m a detail/task-oriented person, but in a different way. I can work at a speed given, but distractions are frustrating and with IT (particularly with my job) there are multiple things you are expected to be doing at once. I want to have tasks given to me that I can work through, not 20 things at once, and expect them all to be fixed by 6:00 PM the same day. I know that emergencies come through, or you’ll be handed multiple projects, but what I hate is when you’re given a project and then told “No no, don’t DO THAT, that is not important, THIS IS.” That’s probably a lot to hope for not happening at a job, but a little less of that would be nice. I’m also the type of individual that will reach their potential by being given something with a deadline, and letting me have at it, rather than giving me time restraints and then telling me to give it up to someone else.

Now with those above details, what can you guys recommend or tell me about the computer programming/software engineer, data analyst career paths? I do still love IT, would love to still work with technology, but I don’t want the pressure of the user-interaction of “My Microsoft Word isn’t working and I HAVE TO HAVE IT FIXED RIGHT NOW!”, if you catch my drift….

TL;DR: Computer Programmers and Data Analysts of our beloved community, what suggestions/advice do you have for me? Do I just need to suck it up and deal with this as I have it pretty good, or is a career change a good idea. Let me know, thanks all!

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#2

Find somewhere with better management. IMO

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#3

I had thought about that, but I’m also tired of users and fixing menial problems. (By menial I am meaning Word isn’t working, I want this to go 20 times faster for $20. So on and so forth) I do feel like IT has just worn on me, not challenging, just frustrating.

I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m disregarding what you said, I will certainly keep it in mind.

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#4

If you still like the technical side of IT, then perhaps sysops or networks engineer could be a thing?

The field of embedded computing and robotics is also exploding, every company in my region is requesting a metric shitton of developers, and the hiring craze is going on like crazy.

If you live in the states I cannot in good conscience recommend you a college due to how the loans are set up, it’s a shitty debt hole to climb out of for sure and your first ten years will hurt you. If you can afford tuition though it is worth it.

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#5

That’s every Tier 1 IT position. You will have to either suck this up or calmly explain to your users the concept of a queue.

The whole point is to be able to be given many different issues at once, establishing what to do based on priority, and then getting as much done as possible.

The pressure can indeed get to you. But don’t take things personally just because you couldn’t help everyone that day. As long as you feel you did a good job with what you had, and explain that to any management, then you will be fine.

If you feel like the stress is surmounting, then take a break, ask for a day off to take a mental health day. Go biking or swimming or some exercise. It really helps clear the mind. Don’t let the stress have power over you, eventually it will break you if you don’t manage it.

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#6

Most in I.T./Ops are, you’d be surprised.

Bear with me, because I’m going to have two “comments” on this.

That is the “modern world”, unfortunately. This isn’t with I.T., but finance, supply chain management, software engineering, etc. My wife is a Supply Chain Analyst and she’s responsible for building and populating a database, tracking dead inventory, forecasting, projecting costs, project management, and a myriad of other tasks. Today. Now. She’s given some priority on each tasks that inevitably conflict, but for the most part her workload is the same as mine throughout most of my career.

However, the frantic behaviors and micromanaging does change, depending on the company. I worked in I.T. where we were expected to answer the phone, take incoming remote sessions, and work the ticket queue. Simultaneously. Every single day, every minute of the day, I would be on the phone troubleshooting something, on a LogMeIn Session with a different client, troubleshooting something, and assigning myself tickets for, again, different clients and different issues. There were 8 of us supporting 6,000 spoiled, obtuse end users.

The company I went to after that; I had my own “office area”, but it was the same. However, I was not inbound. That meant that I took tickets and people would walk up to my desk sometimes, therefore I was still multitasking different issues but it was not frantic, expecting the phone to ring as soon as I disconnected, and all that chaos. It was a better quality of life and I enjoyed the work a lot more.

Just something to consider. Once you climb the ranks you’ll be given projects that are expected to take weeks/months, but you’ll still have regular day to day tasks. I’m afforded some “quiet time” where people don’t bother me, and I only open Outlook from 12 to 2 every day so I’m not spammed with notifications.

As you advance this will start to become the norm.

Sounds like a mix between bad company culture and management, as well as lack of expectations. Be more direct and get what’s expected of you. If you’re not afforded time or challenge, leave. It’s that simple.

You will still work tickets. This was the biggest surprise to me when I moved into the software/DevOps side. You work tickets just like you did in I.T. The SLA changes dramatically, though, often given a month or two to accomplish the task rather than an hour.

You will likely work on legacy code, which means clients or users will report issues and you’ll attempt to duplicate and fix. Very similar to an I.T. workflow. However, rather than reboot the system or reinstall Office, you’ll break out of a loop or add a small piece of logic that doesn’t result in a null value. Things like that.

You’ll still be assigned multiple tasks, and you’ll likely be part of a “sprint”, where you’ll be give a set time frame and allocated a number of “points” to accomplish these tasks. You will also have people ask “Hey, are you free?” in an attempt to pass a ticket to you, get help, or look to you to “fight fires” as it’s commonly referred to (this is akin to the network going down unexpectedly at a company).

Eventually you’ll move into the architect/consultant space, where you’ll have your choice in projects and clients, and be able to dedicate all of your time and energy into building infrastructure/software for a specific entity. That takes years of experience, building rep, and dedication.

Data Analysts are much in the same workflow as software engineers, from what I’ve seen. We have four Data Scientists at my company, and they work with the devs. Java, with interesting libraries, things like that.

Yes and no. Have a talk with your boss. If that leads nowhere or ends in frustration, go somewhere else. Don’t do this “you have to be at a company for 2 years” bullshit. It’s not 1985 anymore.

A career change would be based on your interest and goals, not a change in workflow. In my experience the workflow is identical, only the resolution and tools change (sometimes :wink: )

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#7

Get past tier 1 and it will be better, get more certs and keep looking for jobs this early in your career you should move every 1-2years to a new job imo as you need exp in different areas and the pay bumps are worth the move.

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#8

I’m on a quick break at my work, but not enough time to respond. I wanted to let you guys know that it means a whole lot to have responses! I’ll make sure to reply as quickly as possible when I finish up and all. Thanks again everyone!

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#9

I’ve worked 35 years with computers, I have no formal education within the field, don’t have any games installed, spend most of my time on building things. Just had a year playing around with various embedded projects with a friend of mine. I enjoy programming 10 hours a day, but can’t get a single job, so always end up in workplaces below my abilities.

Last year I got fired after 7 years in the same place. I too hated going to work every day. I’m the type that find satisfaction in doing a task better every time i redo it. I constantly look for new ways to optimize and make everything work better, not only for myself, but for everyone in the team. Over the course of the 7 years I worked there, I’ve talked to management at least a hundred times about bettering the workflow of just about every department I was in, and I think they actually listened maybe twice.

Then after 5 years, I managed to get on weekend shift, where I was able to chose who to work with, and over the first few months, we’d adapted our workflow to the degree that we were done with the tasks allotted to us in 1/3rd of the time required. We had a blast. Now tho, the shift before ours, started sabotaging things, which lead to us having even more to do, but we adapted and got even better. Now the other shift started looking bad, so morale dropped, they started having more and more sick days, hazing of some coworkers started.

Here’s the kicker. We were approached by some of higher management, who told us, that the tasks we were doing, were done wrong, and that we immediately had to go back to doing it the “right” way. Should add, we had 0 waste, everything that had to be done, was done as good as absolutely possible.

I knew that this ass of a boss didn’t have a clue about how anything works in that place, so I started asking questions, especially to his orders if they were going to end up in a worse outcome. So I got fired. Should’ve seen his face when he told me, I just laughed at him and asked how it is to live with an IQ smaller than his shoe size. Then I grabbed my shit, and left.

For me this was something good, this allowed me to spend a year on relaxing, catch up on some sleep, learn a shitload of new things. During this time, I decided to see if I couldn’t get something to do that made sense to me, that was actually challenging. After 9 months of talking with people here and there in local area, I found a company that just paid a fortune for a really bad piece of software. I said I’d come and work there for a free for a month, so we could get to know each other a bit, and at the same time I’d make something they needed in the office. I ended up upgrading their infrastructure (to cabled network), took a part the software they had made, and showed him the problems, luckily he was shocked, i made various scripts and macros for them to ease the workday for the office workers.

Now, coming week or one after, I’ll be employed, to develop a complete software system for them, I will at the same time be part of launching a series of new hardware/software products all over Europe. Best thing is, my coming boss doesn’t give a shit about when/where I work. I can work at home on my own system, I can work there. We agree on a deadline, and I do what I do, when i want to.

To get to the point, why don’t you start as self employed? Find local companies that need a “part time” tech. To pay the bills and have a reasonable living, you wouldn’t need a lot of clients to pull it off, but most importantly, you’d be happy when you wake up and go to work in the morning.

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#10

Alright I’m on my phone, but here it goes…

You all are so awesome with your comments! I’ll address everything in order as best I can.

@wertigon

I had never thought about those job positions, but I’ll do some research on them and see what I think, thanks! I have kinda thought about AI, embedded systems, etc. but not sure if it’s be possible with 0 schooling. As far as college goes, I have been looking at Unbound which helps you cut the amount of schooling you need by quite a lot because hey help get you the courses you need instead of just going straight grouch four years.

@Dynamic_Gravity

You make a very solid point, but even with the explanations, with my management supporting the snobby attitudes and mindsets, the explanations only get through to 2/50 clients a day.

Thankfully I don’t let things get to me personally, but honestly I’m just tired of doing the same repairs day in and day out with never being good enough for my current management. Whatever it is my management just isn’t there to help, and either way I am leaving as my wife and I are moving out of state, but by the fall.

Thank you for the ideas on mental health days however and I’ll definitely keep them in mind! Also in regards to doing everything I can, that’s what makes me feel sane, not about helping everyone, but he problem is the expectation is to never let the ball drop and always stop what you’re doing (even if it’s more important) and help the phone call.

@AdminDev

I can absolutely understand that, and by doing multiple things at once, I should’ve specified that my management wants you to be working on all things at all times. I totally get that the world today is instant gratification, and immediate perfect repairs, I just don’t want to be on the client-facing side of that any longer.

This helped me understand so much more of what I want. I want to step away from the repairs and constant people interaction and begin working on things that require focus, concentration, and code/machine/etc. (If that makes sense)

Having more time to work things despite them still being tickets is a-okay with me, but workin with customers that need something right then is really what I want to get out of. Particularly I feel like glorified customer service and I don’t want that anymore.

Perfect you have been SO helpful, and answered everything!!

@mutation666

I should have mentioned that I have worked higher positions in companies before, but they weren’t looking for any tier 2s at the time. Unfortunately I have a couple of connections with tier 2s, and our engineers, all the same stuff just more complex problems. The stress level of them with the customers though, absolutely not for me. If that makes sense, I completely respect what they do, but I’ve worked on issues with them and have found myself liking what they do less because it’s just more work for same pay.

@hem

I totally see what you’re saying, unfortunately I don’t find myself having that motivation of being an independent contractor, because the fear of not having a paycheck, having a wife and pets to support, just a fear that truly terrifies me. I’ll keep an open mind though and appreciate everything you mentioned!

Also all, I will try to add quotes as I can, but at least you can see this post!

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#11

Experience and networking (people) is king in freeing yourself from this. Skills, aptitude, education is a not so distant second. It helps to keep that in mind, but often doesn’t make the situation any better. What helped me was knowing “this is only temporary” and having an end date in mind. Having a calendar or checklist on a phone is nice, but having a big, thick, sharpie that I could “X” off days on a physical calendar was really nice.

If you can afford it, get a whiteboard. If not, get a spiral notebook. With the whiteboard, you can chart out your weeks and put things to work on. This can be anything, improvements you can make, chipping away at a certification, building a website, etc. You can do the same thing in a spiral, just make a new page for each week (or day, even, if you want more of a journal/log, which is also very helpful).

IF IT HELPS: I have been in I.T. since 2011. I started as a bench tech and moved into desktop support. I went into enterprise/corporate I.T. in 2015. I moved into DevOps early 2018. I no longer interface with clients. I work with devs and DBAs primarily, sometimes management. If something catastrophic (or just stupid) has happened, I work with support working with level 1 working with the clients.

Your job is out there, it just takes time and work. I really enjoyed my bench tech days, so the 2011-2015 was really me just chilling and having fun for the most part, but I realized I wasn’t growing anymore and had an opportunity to expand the scale of my work.

My recommendation is look at any “engineer” or “architect” level job on the market and work backwards to set yourself up some goals on how to achieve that. Be wary, sometimes titles are clickbait and misleading, and don’t copy paste technologies as those will inevitably change.

For example, Docker is a big one now. But, if you know Jails, LXC, Vagrant, then you understand, conceptually (and even technically), how Docker works. So don’t focus on the buzzwords or list of technologies as much as the overall duties, day to day, and expected experience.

Right now, you’ll have to decide where you want to go with respect to software or infrastructure. But, eventually there will be a lot more jobs where you’ll be “Such and such Engineer” like everybody else. Some will write code more than others, while others will spend time on the configuration management and infrastructure templates, but you’ll all have same roles and responsibilities.

Anyway, I’m rambling. To get into the “Deep Work” jobs, you’ll have to put in time, kick some ass, put up with some bs, but you’ll make it. If you put some serious dedication and work in, you can probably ascend within 6 to 18 months. Luck will be involved, especially at the six month stint, but realistically, a year of being in I.T. and learning new skills should be enough. You’ll have to demonstrate these skills, so I would recommend getting a GitHub, blog, or YouTube channel. Something to link to your resume so you can share with the world and potential employers.

Also: LinkedIn. My last several interviews have been through LinkedIn. I only applied to one job. Everyone else reached out to me, expressed interest, scheduled time for an interview, etc. I get a few messages a week, most are mediocre, but there are a few that make me go “Hm…”

That is a lot of early I.T. I’ve worked at companies that would rather hire folks with customer service experience and train them on the tech side. It generally worked out, but not always. Some people just don’t “get it”.

If there is lacking documentation at your job, you can start by filling in the gaps in that. You can put “technical writing” or “documentation” on your resume, especially if you find you’re good at it and get a lot of positive feedback.

:ok_hand: Happy to help. Definitely explore and find out what you want to do. If you want to move into software, definitely learn a bright and shiny OOP language like Java or C#, and then learn some “”“full stack”" web stuff; MERN, MEAN, Laravel + MySQL, ASP.NET, Golang*, Django/Flask, etc. Find something that interests you. If you want to stay on the I.T./Infrastructure side look into Cisco or Juniper OR split your time between Microsoft, VMware, and Linux systems. Very rarely will you be working with Cisco equipment (at the engineer level) and manage hypervisors or systems. Other’s mileage may vary on that one, but I don’t see a CCDA - CCIE patching Windows or Linux servers.

Good luck. Remember to focus on what you want to do. Don’t let fan boys or people misguided in the field tell you what to do or not to do. Everyone will tell you “JavaScript sucks” or “PHP sucks” or “Microsoft sucks” or “Java sucks”, these people are gatekeepers, elitists, and not worth your time. Exit the conversation immediately and do your own research. Find your interests, find something you’re good at, and find something you enjoy. The coveted triangle does exist, it just takes a minute.

Last, I’ll say that management is always an option. If you move into Team Lead or something and find you enjoy that, you could always change the global perception that I.T. managers suck and build a great culture and team that excels at every challenge.

Some resources:

https://www.udemy.com/the-web-developer-bootcamp/

* This will be very challenging, but you will be way ahead of the curve regarding web development if you choose Golang.

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#12

This is definitely something that is in my mind currently since we will be moving (hopefully in June) which gives me at least a chance at finding a better job.

I am planning on charting out what I need to do, but next up is finding which programming language I would like to start with. I’ve been thinking of Java, but I’ve heard SQL is a good place to start in terms of what I will want to be doing as well.

That’s actually crazy similar to myself, except that I’ve been in IT since ~2008 (nothing necessarily professional until 2011 though), and then got a job as an IT guy at a school. Unfortunately I left that job under the premise that my current one would be just as good, but found that to not be the case.

I’m definitely not planning on doing that, I want to learn programming and the more methodical-side of computers, and get away from what I’ve been doing for just over a decade now. Super blunt way of putting it: I’m ready to get out of what I got into because college and math scared me.

Yeah and just listening to my boss in terms of where the job will take me, it’s still just being a customer service manager and I can honestly say that it’s not where I want my career to head and if there’s any time to change it has to start now.

Unfortunately this is where I’m at right now, trying to find a solid answer on where someone should start in regards to coding/programming is just time after time hearing “If you start HERE you’re wrong” “You absolutely need to start HERE” yet they’re the same language, so it just gets confusing and overwhelming.

I had thought about that, I’ve been offered a management position before, but I’m too much of an introvert to truly be a good leader, it’s something I need to work on, but I have personal things that I don’t lead on and work would be the same way I feel.

I’ll make sure to look into Golang, never heard of it, but I had done some web development earlier on, but definitely got stuck on different areas since everything seemed to be changing so quickly.

Again @AdminDev you are truly one of the best here, I appreciate it! I’m probably going to create a separate post, maybe even start creating a website for blogging about my adventures down the programming path. I feel like that’s where I want to go, just something with me and data.

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#13

The following was on one of the thread here, I don’t remember which to give recognition for the OP. It might help.

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#14

Java is a really good start, as it is versatile and the skills you learn in Java can be applied anywhere else for the most part.

Unless you’re wanting to go the DBA route, I recommend pairing SQL with something. Java and MySQL, C# and MS SQL Server, JavaScript and Postgres, or any combination really.

I understand this, believe me. Pro tip is you don’t need college or math to be a programmer :smiley:

I definitely get where you’re coming from on your work frustrations. You’re in a good place, here, there are a lot of people that will be able to assist with your journey.

Yup. I learned about P.O.M.O. from my last CISO – Pick One and Move On. That was his methodology with security frameworks, but it applies to programming languages. If you set out to learn Java, and master OOP concepts and computer logic, are you really in a bad spot? No, these people are silly.

Sounds like there is still time, I wouldn’t sweat it. I was throwing it out there because a lot of people tend to forget about it :wink:

<3 I appreciate that. Any time. Definitely feel free to start a blog or dev journal here, too. There are people stronger than I in the field that will be able to help you out.

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#15

@AdminDev

I have thought about being a DBA, but still not sure what that all entails, need to do some more research, probably will be a different thread!

I’m currently working through the freecodecamp.org courses, not sure if they’re worth it, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot so far. Just finished their HTML5 starting point and have now begun doing the CSS portion, it’s definitely way more along the lines of what I would like to do.

That’s my plan with this freecodecamp.org website, it’s giving me a language to learn, and seems logical to me so far.

Well thank you so much, and I can’t wait to see what doors can open, a lot of hard work, but I know it’ll all be worth it!

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#16

I work as a data analyst + data scientist + programmer (backend/ml, python/c/erlang/whatevah) + research engineer… I work on math and engine-like related projects, often from the start of the planning phase, data collection and statistical analysis, and down to the implementation of ml algorithms with a lot of math heavy research in between.

From my experience, my most important skills when it comes to my work have been my math and research skills. Everything else is just fluff and a lot of monkeying around.

So, if you’re thinking about data analyst you need to know math and statistics on a decent level plus all of the software that is commonly used for that; it might seem as a tall order but imho it’s quite worth it. If you don’t have that you might want to try and see if you can get the company to offer you some courses and stuff like that.

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#17

Thanks for replying to my post! I have found that out about the Math, and it will be a little bit of a challenge for me, as I am not keen to learning/using it. After looking more into the programming/developing aspects I am feeling drawn to being a Cybersecurity Programmer/Developer, whichever kind of position allows for that. Again, thank you for your response it certainly answers more questions that I had thinking about!

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